2004 Briefs : October - December


National Wildlife Refuge Week
October 1, 2004 news.fws.gov

National Wildlife Refuge Week , October 10-16, will celebrate the National Wildlife Refuge System’s role in the protection and recovery of wildlife species across the country. Bald eagles, whooping cranes and the California condor are some of the endangered and threatened species that have been helped back from the brink of extinction by the work of Service biologists on national wildlife refuges. Nearly 260 threatened or endangered species are found on national wildlife refuges, where they often begin their recovery or hold their own against extinction. For a complete list of events, go to: refugedata.fws.gov/databases/events.taf?_function=list&_UserReference=85D4D5C32E5CFBCBC4D06C4E&_start=1


Campaign to save vultures
October 1, 2004 news.telegraph.co.uk

A campaign was launched yesterday to save three critically endangered species of vulture that are in danger of being wiped out by farmers. Over the past 10 years, 95 per cent of South Asian vultures have vanished, killed off by diclofenac, a painkiller given to the cattle they feed from. Their decline is the fastest ever recorded for a bird. The vultures are famous for picking flesh from the bodies of Indian Parsees, followers of Zoroastrianism who place their dead on towers. Less than one per cent of the Indian population of oriental white-backed vultures and less than three per cent of long-billed vultures remain. Numbers fall by up to 50 per cent each year. The rarest of the three species, the slender-billed vulture, is also declining at a similar rate.


Giant Bullfrog Survey
October 1, 2004 iol.co.za

The Giant Bullfrog is known to stand up to lions and leopards to protect their young. And they bite. The University of Pretoria and the Endangered Wildlife Trust hopes to enlist the public, to assist with compiling a distribution database of this bullfrog, which will assist in conservation planning. The amphibian has been listed as a "near threatened" species by the International Union for Conservation and Nature. "The point of the survey is to obtain a large number of locality records for these frogs. There are huge gaps in known habitats and we don't know where else they are found," Yetman said. This would enable environmentalist to conserve the area. The only way to successfully track down your giant bullfrog is in the rain. They spend most of the year underground and emerge only after heavy rain at the start of summer. Following the first heavy spring rains, these frogs spend only a few days above ground, breeding and feeding. The giant bullfrog is green on top with yellow underneath and orange underneath its armpits. It has two large teeth on the lower jaw. It also exhibits a breeding behavior found in antelopes. The males congregate in a relatively small area and establish little territories so that they are all bunched up together. The females then come and move to these territories, mate and leave. The male takes care of the young. Information about the survey can be found on www.giantbullfrog.org. The site will go live next week.


South Asian Vultures
October 1, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

New research, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows that exposure of vulture populations to a surprisingly small proportion of livestock carcasses contaminated with the drug - less than 1% - is sufficient to cause the rapid declines in vulture populations observed in India, Pakistan and Nepal over the past ten years. The study also found that the proportion of dead vultures with symptoms of diclofenac poisoning is close to that expected if this was the sole cause of the declines. Dr Rhys Green of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the University of Cambridge, the lead author of the new paper, said: "Our study indicates that diclofenac poisoning is the main cause. Governments, drug companies, vets, livestock owners and conservationists should act together now to solve this problem." The research builds upon a study by Lindsay Oaks and colleagues of The Peregrine Fund, published in Nature in January 2004, which showed that tissues of livestock treated with the standard veterinary dose of diclofenac shortly before death were lethal to captive vultures and that a high proportion of wild vultures found dead in Pakistan were contaminated with diclofenac and had the same symptoms as the poisoned birds in their experiments.


El Paso Zoo’s Elephant Festival
October 3, 2004 www.borderlandnews.com

El Paso Zoo's third-annual Elephant Festival started on Saturday afternoon. The event continues through today. The event started in part to continue the zoo's traditional birthday party for Mona the elephant, who died in 2001. The festival features children's games, performances and self-guided tours, and it aims to educate visitors about endangered Asian elephants. At the festival, visitors can get closer to the animals by taking behind-the-scenes tours, led by the zoo's docents, and by talking to volunteers holding hedgehogs, reptiles and other small creatures. The festival also gave the zoo an opportunity to showcase its many conservation efforts. More than a year ago, the zoo collected more than 6,000 signatures to petition the Sumatran government to protect the Tesso Nilo forest, a haven for the country's tigers and elephants. The petition helped in the creation of the Tesso Nilo National Park. To thank Sumatra officials, zoo visitors can sign a card, which will be mailed at a later date. The zoo is also accepting used cell phones to be recycled. The money raised from recycling the phones will be sent to the World Wildlife Fund.


Report on Tourists Buying Animal Skins
October 3, 2004 news.telegraph.co.uk/news

According to the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London charity, Britons and other European tourists and businessmen are illegally buying tiger skins in China, paying up to £5,500 to use them as rugs, sofa covers or wall hangings for home decor and are pushing the tiger into extinction. The investigation by the charity found that the tiger skin trade had grown 10-fold in the past five years. Investigators also identified a growing trade in leopard and otter pelts, with Europeans again among the main buyers. Wealthy Chinese are also buying many of these and the tiger skins. In a report entitled "The Tiger Skin Trail", which will be published at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, this week. The scale of the problem was revealed when customs officials in Tibet seized a record £660,000 worth of pelts in October last year. The haul, from a single lorry, included 31 tigers, 581 leopards and 778 otters. Five years ago the seizures involved two or three tigers and perhaps 50 leopards," the agency spokesman said. "Now we are looking at 31 tigers and nearly 600 leopards. The world's wild tiger population has fallen from about 100,000 a century ago to fewer than 5,000 today. Half of the tigers are in India with the rest scattered across south Asia and the Far East.


Financing Glen Oak's African safari
October 3, 2004 www.pjstar.com/news By SARAH OKESON

PEORIA - Glen Oak Zoo officials had hoped to start construction on their new African exhibit this winter, but they're still $15 million short in their fund-raising. Park district officials want them to have 90 percent of the money raised before construction starts. Zoo manager Jan Schweitzer's vision includes pygmy hippos that have been dubbed Betty and Bubba and giraffes that visitors can feed. "We're going to talk about plants. We're going to talk about culture. We're going to talk about biodiversity. We want everybody to leave with a message about where they fit into the world." The Peoria Zoological Society has hired a fund-raising consultant, BMG Associates of Davenport, Iowa, but zoo officials say the campaign hasn't stalled. The $32 million project will increase the zoo's size from 7 acres to 24 acres. New Orleans zoo planner Ace Torre, whose firm holds the $2.7 million contract to design the zoo, is in Peoria frequently.


$10,000 to save Naples Zoo
October 4, 2004 www.news-press.com

The Park Political Action Committee formed to market a county referendum to save 150 acres in downtown Naples from development, including the Caribbean Gardens zoo, has its first major donation. Committee officials accepted a $10,000 check Friday from the Naples Area Board of Realtors and Association of Real Estate Professionals Inc. "It's obviously important because the Naples Area Board of Realtors is a prestigious, well-known group in Naples," said David Tetzlaff, director of Caribbean Gardens, the landmark zoo and botanical gardens in Naples. The board's generous donation is "humbling," Tetzlaff said. "It also lends legitimacy to their cause."


Calgary Zoo Goes Wireless
October 4, 2004 biz.yahoo.com/prnews

The Calgary Zoo, home to more than 900 animals and host to over one million visitors a year, has deployed an enterprise-wide network security infrastructure based on Fortinet's FortiGate (TM) Antivirus Firewall platforms to improve network performance and enable mobile networking while protecting against viruses, worms, Trojans, intrusions and other attacks. The zoo hopes to eliminate the performance and functional bottlenecks in their security infrastructure that led to frequent mail outages and prevented them from implementing applications critical to their growth, such as secure wireless access for staff and guests.


White Rhino dies in VA Zoo Moat
October 4, 2004 www.wavy.com/Global

Jesse, a 32-year-old female white rhinoceros has died at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk - in a moat intended to keep animals in their exhibit area. It marked the fifth death of a major exhibit animal in two years. The zoo's deputy director, Lewis Greene, says the rhino was part of the Okavango Delta Africa exhibit, a habitat for various animals, including lions, giraffes, zebras and elephants. Officials say they believe the rhino was being chased by zebras when it fell into the moat. The Zoo was open at the time, and staff arrived at the scene within moments of the fall. While zoo keepers can aid some animals in distress, the sheer weight and mass of a rhino (Jesse weighed between 2 and 2 1/2 tons) meant nothing could be done.  The moat is intended to protect the public, Greene said, and it's not supposed to be a trap. "When an animal gets in it, its slope is designed in such a way as to allow them to get back out," he said.


Animals from Kufri’s sent to Tajikstan
October 4, 2004 www.hindustantimes.com/news

Sources in the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department revealed that the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has cleared the way for exporting leopards and black bear to Tajikstan. The animals would be provided free of cost. "It is a gift from the Government of India to them,’’ said an official of the Wildlife Wing, requesting anonymity. The CZA has directed the Wildlife Wing to provide two pair of leopards and a pair of black bear. Besides, a dozen of monkeys would also be exported to the zoo at Tajikstan. For the purpose, the Wildlife Wing has selected a pair of sloth bear and leopards kept captive at Himalayan Nature Park at Kufri. The animals at Kufri Zoo had been chosen for the reason that the climatic conditions of Dushanbe were similar to the ambiance of the hill capital. The animals kept captive at the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Tuttikandi would replace the animals at the Nature Park at Kufri. There are 14 leopards and six sloth bears confined at the rescue centre. The captive animals also include three man-eater, which were trapped from various parts of the state.


Search for new National Zoo Director
October 4, 2004 www.wjla.com/news

Smithsonian officials tell The Washington Post that they've narrowed the field to about a half-dozen candidates and hope to have someone in place by the beginning of next year. A ten-member committee headed by the Smithsonian's undersecretary for science has held several meetings since June and spoken with 36 applicants. The finalists will be interviewed at greater length this month. Smithsonian officials won't name any candidates but say they have been drawn from zoos, conservation work and university-affiliated research labs. Two candidates are from inside the Smithsonian organization. Zoo Director Lucy Spelman is stepping down at the end of the year in the wake of a congressionally ordered study that found problems with animal care, record-keeping and pest control.


Microsoft Game Studios Zoo Contest
October 4, 2004 www.ladydragon.com

To signal the release of Windows® game "Zoo Tycoon™ 2," Microsoft® Game Studios announced 15 semi-finalists in the search for America’s Favorite Zoo. Finalists were selected based on their scores in seven different categories: habitats/exhibits; educational programs; awards and recognition; staff highlights, recognition or commendations; community events; involvement or service; other visitor programs, activities or attractions; and organizational partnerships and affiliations. The winning zoo will not only boast the title of America’s Favorite Zoo, but will also earn a $25,000 grant.  The fate of the 15 semi-finalists now rests in the hands of their biggest fans: their visitors. From October 4 to October 29, zoo fans will have the chance to vote for their favorite zoo at the official "Zoo Tycoon™ 2" Web site, www.zootycoon.com . Five finalists will be announced on November 1 on www.zootycoon.com,  and online voting for the general public will resume to determine America’s Favorite Zoo. The winner will be announced November 16, 2004. Additional information is available at www.zootycoon.com/.


Black rhino hunting quota approved
October 4, 2004 news.yahoo.com

CITES has voted to permit Namibia and South Africa to each kill five endangered black rhinos per year, a move conservationists warned could lead to wider abuse. The move will allow wealthy hunters to kill the endangered rhinos and export them as trophies, such as stuffed animals and heads, which would be banned from being resold. Both countries told the 13th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that only male black rhinos over 30 years old would be targeted, arguing that aging dominant males often prevented younger males from mating, leading to inbreeding and a population slowdown. But wildlife groups including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the UK-based Born Free Foundation protested the move, warning that it set a dangerous precedent which paved the way for abuse by poachers.


Fungus not lethal in all frogs
October 4, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis appears to be especially lethal to amphibians, having been implicated in massive declines and waves of extinction in Central America and Eastern Australia. A report published today in the October 4 issue of The Public Library of Science, includes findings that may give important new clues concerning this pathogenic organism's behavior in the wild, and a step towards understanding how it spreads. The paper, written by Arizona State University biologist Richard Retallick, Hamish Ian McCallum from the University of Queensland, and Richard Speare from James Cook University, finds evidence for the persistence of the fungus in surviving populations of Taudactylus eungellensis, a species that had suffered a massive decline. The species largely disappeared from rainforest streams in the mid-1980's, but surviving remnant populations sampled in the mid-1990's show the continued presence of the fungus in 15% to 18% of the sampled frogs. Later investigation showed that infected frogs had similar survival to uninfected frogs. "This shows that frog populations can persist with an endemic infection of the chytrid fungus," said Retallick. "The presumption until now has been that when a population is hit by this pathogen it is wiped out. It doesn't appear to be that simple.


First White Rhino Insemination
October 4, 2004 news.yahoo.com

BERLIN (AFP) - In a world first, German scientists have successfully artificially inseminated a white rhinoceros, a highly endangered species, the Berlin-based Leibniz Institute of Zoology and Research for wild animals announced. Lulu, a 24-year-old white rhinoceros housed at Budapest Zoo, is now five months pregnant. The gestation period for a rhinoceros is 18 months, twice that of a human. "We are confident that her baby will be born in good health in 2005," said Robert Hermes, a zoologist at the institute. The northern white rhino lives only in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, according to the World Wildlife Fund. WWF said there are currently only 30 rhinos like Lulu left in the world, with 10 of them in zoos where they have been unable to reproduce. The Leibniz Institute added that it was preparing for a second insemination of a white rhinoceros in a zoo in Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic.


Delhi Zoo Turnaround
October 5, 2004 www.hindustantimes.com/news

After suffering a string of deaths of animals for some time now, there is good news coming out of the zoo. It has acquired a 10-year-old Asiatic lion, Gajang, and 60 exotic birds from the Junagarh zoo in Gujarat. The Delhi Zoo had lost three Asiatic lions to illness and old age in the last two years, leaving the only remaining Asiatic lioness — 9-year-old Anita — was left without a mating partner. That will probably change now. Gajang, an Asiatic lion of pure breed, has lived in the wild in the Gir forest most of his life. He has spent only the last two years in the Junagarh Zoo. With most of his reproductive years still ahead of him — on an average a lion is virile till he is 15 — zoo officials are hopeful that the numbers of Asiatic lions will rise in their area. The exotic birds that have been brought in include the White Cockatiel and Fischer's Lovebird (both blue and green varieties). These were originally from Australia and its surrounding areas. The balance of male and female birds has also been maintained to ensure reproduction.


Singapore Zoo culls poultry
October 5, 2004 straitstimes.asia1.com.sg

More than 50 chickens and ducks at the Singapore Zoo have been culled as a precaution, following the recent outbreaks of bird flu in Malaysia. As part of the precaution, the wings of free-roaming birds that reside at Jurong BirdPark, the zoo and the Night Safari have been clipped, said the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which runs these three tourist attractions. Aside from this, already, crows and mynahs that land at these parks are culled daily. The Singapore Nature Society is concerned that wild birds may be killed needlessly in the process, and expressed these fears in a letter to The Straits Times. To allay its fears, the Wildlife Reserves says it is arranging to meet the society this week, to discuss and clarify the issues and concerns the environmental group had raised.


Species at risk from market forces
October 5, 2004 www.swissinfo.org

Thomas Althaus, director of the endangered species section at the Federal Veterinary Office and head of the Swiss delegation in Bangkok, says that CITES stipulates "objective scientific criteria" for determining whether a species should be added to the list. "Some countries may make a political decision when voting, but what we don’t tend to see is trading between signatory states." Althaus cautioned that the latest round of talks on the convention would not deter those who seek to profit from the trade in wildlife products. "Take rhino horn, for example, which is big business in the Far East, and is used in particular in classical Chinese medicine. As long as it fetches high prices it is very difficult to control the trade," he said.  Althaus added that one of the aims of the Swiss delegation would be to engage in constructive dialogue with the countries concerned. "Switzerland is a small country and cannot do much on its own. But traditional Chinese medicine is an important topic, and [we will work with other countries] to convince those responsible of the need to avoid using endangered plants and animals and to look for substitute products." Richard Lehner, spokesman for the Swiss branch of environmental organisation WWF, said Switzerland had "an important role to play" within CITES. "Though it can’t really influence decisions on the big issues involving animals like rhinos and elephants, Switzerland can take an active role in discussions on [regulating trade in other plants and animals] which pass through Europe."


Zoo Atlanta Gorilla Dies
October 5, 2004 www.11alive.com/news

An elderly female western lowland gorilla, who at one time served as a foster mother, passed away at Zoo Atlanta at the age of 41. Paki, who was born in the wild, died Monday. She arrived at Zoo Atlanta from Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in 1988. Paki gave birth to the first gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta. She was also the first ape at the zoo to care for an infant who was not her own. Paki adopted Jasiri, who at 11 weeks was rejected by his birth mother. According to Zoo Atlanta officials, Paki first showed signs of illness in April and underwent exploratory surgery to remove a mass located in her abdomen. She had been closely monitored by experts at the zoo and appeared to be recovering well from surgery. A member of Ozzie’s social group, Paki was considered to be in old age. The life expectancy for western lowland gorillas in captivity is late 30s to early 40s. Five other gorillas at the zoo are also considered elderly.


Cheetah Lectures at Oregon Zoo
October 5, 2004 www.oregonlive.com/news

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) Director Laurie Marker, a world-renowned cheetah expert and Time magazine's Heroes for the Planet award recipient, will lecture at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Oregon Zoo's Cascade Crest Banquet Center. The lecture will focus on the decline of cheetahs-there are only 12,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild-and efforts to save this threatened cat. Marker will share stories of cheetahs she has come to know, including four new cheetah cubs recently born at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Marker will also discuss innovative ways CCF is helping farmers protect their livestock from cheetah predation. Farmers often kill cheetahs to protect livestock. In an effort to prevent cheetah shootings, CCF trained guard dogs to protect farm animals from predators. The dogs bond with herds of goats, sheep and cattle, scaring away cheetahs. CCF trains the dogs, then gives them to farmers at no cost. Currently, more than 130 dogs work on Namibian livestock farmland. Marker will also talk about bush encroachment, a major problem for both the Namibian economy and the cheetah. Overgrown brush makes it difficult for cheetahs to hunt, and thorns can seriously injure the cats, even blind them. Farmers experiencing economic hardship due to bush encroachment are less likely to tolerate livestock predation by cheetahs.


Potter Park bongos make history
October 5, 2004 www.lsj.com

Betty, a 13-year-old female bongo - a large forest-dwelling antelope native- to central Africa - was artificially inseminated Monday, the first time ever that the procedure was carried out on bongos. And today, the bongo's 4-year-old daughter, Bea, will undergo the same procedure.  A team of veterinarians from the Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans and Michigan State University, and Potter Park Zoo veterinarian Tara Harrison worked to transfer sperm into Betty.


Steller Sea Lion Turn-around
October 5, 2004 news.yahoo.com

The number of endangered Steller sea lions counted between the Gulf of Alaska and the tip of the Aleutian Chain has increased again, according to new data released by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The increase is in the second in four years. "I think we're seeing a turnaround in this Steller sea lion population," longtime federal biologist Tom Loughlin told more than 200 scientists and others at the opening session of the Sea Lions of the World conference in downtown Anchorage last week. The western population may have increased 6 percent to 7 percent since 2002, based on counts of the sea lions at more than 250 sites conducted by a team from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center during aerial surveys in June.  That's similar to the increase reported two years ago when the fisheries service documented the first overall rise for Aleutian sea lions in nearly three decades.


50 Proposals for CITES 13
October 5, 2004 thestar.com.my/lifestyle

For the first time in its near 30-year history, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) is in Bangkok – one of the world’s capitals for wildlife trade. The 13-day meet involves government officials from 166 member nations, wildlife conservationists and the boisterous animal activists. Since the convention was signed in Washington DC in 1973 by an initial 80 countries and entered into force in 1975, trade in more than 30,000 wildlife species is currently being regulated under three appendices aimed at promoting sustainable use. While high-profile species like the African elephant and whales hogged previous debates, will still take up substantial deliberation time at this conference, but delegates will also decide on the appropriate level of protection for less charismatic but equally threatened species in world trade. These include the great white shark, the ramin timber tree, the Chinese yew (a medicinal shrub), the yellow-crested cockatoo and the lilac-crowned parrot, five Asian turtles, the white rhinoceros, the Nile and American crocodiles and the European date mussel. Out of the 50 proposals, several are of direct concern to Malaysia, the first South-East Asian country to accede to the convention in 1977.


Art Appreciation Day at Hogle Zoo
October 5, 2004 tv.ksl.com

In honor of Art Appreciation Day, Hogle Zoo officials are offering free admission to the zoo!  The celebration includes performances by the Utah Symphony and Opera, the Scots Pipe Band, and the Children's Dance Theater. While the event is free, you do need tickets to get in. Free Zoo admission tickets (4 per person, no pre-schools or daycares) are available at all ArtTix locations, and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center Ticket Offices. You may also visit www.slcozap.org  or call 801-360-0257 for more information. This event is paid for by the Zoo, Arts & Parks Renewal Committee; not paid for at taxpayers’ expense.


CITES may help orang-utans
October 5, 2004 reuters.com

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) could extend a helping hand to the great apes -- all critically endangered -- if countries follow a European resolution to develop a global blueprint for their survival. One key proposal involves trees, not apes. Indonesia is proposing to impose restrictions on trade in all species of ramin, a hardwood in high demand for furniture production. "Orangutans do not feed on ramin but its removal greatly disturbs them," said Ian Redmond, the chief consultant for the U.N.'s Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP). "Loggers also build canals to float the logs out of the forest and these canals drain the peat swamps where the orangutans live," he said. Orangutans are only found today on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra and Redmond said the most recent scientific estimates put their number at 45,000 -- higher than some but still alarming.


Bovine genome completed
October 6, 2004, www.eurekalert.org

Leaders of the $53-million Bovine Genome Sequencing Project begun in 2003 announced today that the first draft of the bovine geonome sequence will be made available to the public. This is the first mammalian farm animal to have its genes mapped out and was completed in collaboration with the University of Alberta (U of A). "This information is of high importance to scientists working in fields such as evolutionary biology, population genetics, comparative genomics as well as those working in livestock production science," said Dr. Stephen Moore, chair of bovine genomics at the University of Alberta and steering committee member of the international project. Researchers can now begin analyzing the genome to uncover more information about individual genes and their effect on important traits in cattle. The first draft was based on DNA taken from a Hereford, a breed of cattle used in beef production and was produced by sequencing the genome 3.3 times. The final target, which is expected to sequence the genome six times, should be completed sometime in 2005.


Gibbons fights to save sage grouse
October 6, 2004 www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com/2004/10/06

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., tried to rally lawmakers on Friday to keep the sage grouse from being declared a threatened or endangered species. Gibbons, vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, said federal involvement would harm economic development in areas of sage grouse habitat. He said states can protect the bird better. "History shows that state and locally led conservation efforts have a much higher success rate than the [Endangered Species Act] in restoring species to health," Gibbons said in a letter co-authored with Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. The Fish and Wildlife Service may decide in January whether to list the sage grouse, a land-dwelling bird found in 11 Western states, as a threatened or endangered species. Gibbons said state efforts like Gov. Kenny Guinn's sage grouse task force in Nevada have been "very effective in recovering the sage grouse." A federal listing could place restrictions on land in the sage grouse's habitat used for mining, ranching and energy pipelines and wells, he said.


Forest Park Zoo’s Special Events
October 6, 2004 www.masslive.com

This has been one of the best seasons the Zoo in Forest Park has experienced! The weather has been beautiful and although the summer season has left us and children are back in school it is never a boring day here at the zoo as evidenced by the activities we have planned and the ideas yet to be born. In celebration of fall the Education Department has many interesting and popular events planned throughout the season. Starting Oct. 9, come meet "Felix" a Suffolk Punch Draft Horse who will entertain you with his intelligence and various demonstrations.  Explore the zoo at night Oct. 22 and participate in Flashlight Safari. Bring your flashlight and a sense of adventure while having the chance to observe our animals after dark. Boo at the Zoo, Oct. 30, has become an annual and very popular event. March in the trick or treat parade through the zoo with costumed characters and meet Bandi Bear, Otto Staccato and Tin Man. Tomasina the Good Witch awaits your visit as she will entertain you with magic, and share in songs and stories. November will bring us Animal Encounters Nov. 20 and 27 where you can get up close and personal with fancy chickens, furry chinchillas and other friendly creatures.  To learn more about the zoo, call (413) 733-225 or go to www.forestpark zoo.com  


Wild Chimpanzee Tool Use
October 6, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com/news

Using infrared, motion-triggered video cameras, researchers have documented how chimpanzees in the Goualougo Triangle—a region within the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo—use a variety of tools to extract termites from their nests. The "tool kits" are among the most complex ever observed in wild chimp populations. Tool use among chimpanzees is well documented. For example, chimps in the TaV rain forest, in West Africa's Côte d'Ivoire, use stone "hammers" to crack open nuts. In Tanzania's Gombe National Park, chimps use straw and blades of grass to hunt for termites, as made famous in Jane Goodall's classic documentaries. The new study adds another detail to this picture. For the last two decades scientists in the Congo River Basin have been collecting sticks—tools discarded after termite fishing—around termite mounds. But few have witnessed the chimps in action. The new video cameras revealed chimps using one short stick to penetrate the aboveground mounds and then a "fishing probe" to extract the termites.


Giant Ape May be New Species
Oct. 6, 2004 animal.discovery.com/news

An elusive giant ape has been spotted in remote forests in central Africa, sparking theories that it could be a new species of primate, a finding that would be the most astonishing wildlife discovery in decades, New Scientist says. In a report published in the coming issue, the weekly says the mysterious creatures have been seen in forests around the towns of Bondo and Bili, in the far north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. From the rare eyewitness sightings, bone discoveries and a video recording, the animals have large, black faces, are up to two meters tall (6.5 feet) and weigh between 85 and 102 kilos (187 and 224 pounds). That would put them in the size category of gorillas, but the region lies 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the edges of the known habitats of the western and eastern species of gorilla. The creature's face is gorilla-like and has a sagittal crest — a long bony ridge — that is typical of gorillas. But other aspects of the skull morphology are that of a chimpanzee, according to Colin Groves, an expert at the Australian National University in Canberra.


Zoo New England Accreditation & Award
October 6, 2004 www2.townonline.com/stoneham

Zoo New England recently announced Franklin Park Zoo and, for the first time in its history, Stone Zoo, were granted accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's Accreditation Commission during its meeting at this year's Annual Conference held in New Orleans on July 19. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to become accredited in order to be members of the association. Accreditation is granted for five years, at the end of which the institution must undergo the rigorous investigation again to ensure it meets ever-rising industry standards in collection care, veterinary programs. conservation, education, and safety, among other things. Approximately 1,600 organizations are licensed by the federal government to exhibit wildlife; only 212 of those organizations have earned the honor of AZA accreditation.


Giant deer's last stand
October 6, 2004

A new investigation into extinctions caused by climate change has revealed that the giant deer, previously thought to have been wiped out by a cold spell 10,500 years ago, instead survived well into the modern era. University College London (UCL) scientists scoured the continent to collect dozens of ancient bones and teeth which, when radiocarbon dated, revealed that the Eurasian giant deer survived to 7,000 years ago, much later than previously thought. Giant deer first appeared about 400,000 years and roamed much of the Eurasian continent alongside the woolly mammoth. The magnificent beasts – 2 metres in shoulder height with antlers spanning 3.5 metres - appear to have made their final stand in the Ural mountains on the boundary of Europe and Asia, possibly the last haven for a species which was being progressively wiped out by climate change and the spread of ice sheets, according to the study by UCL Professors Adrian Lister and Tony Stuart, published in the latest issue of Nature.


Kids’ Summit Essay Contest
October 6, 2004 biz.yahoo.com/prnews

Mutual of Omaha today launched its 2005 Wild Kingdom Kids' Summit essay contest, which encourages young people to brainstorm ideas on how to save threatened and endangered species in North America. The Wild Kingdom Kids' Summit gathers young delegates from across the nation to discuss and learn about wildlife conservation. Kids ages 9 to 12 are encouraged to write a one-page essay explaining their idea for saving a threatened or endangered species. One aspiring conservationist from each state will be selected to attend the Kids' Summit in Los Angeles on May 4-6, 2005. Delegates will participate in activities at the LA Zoo and have fun at Universal Studios Hollywood. Jim Fowler, co-host of the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom television program, said "The Wild Kingdom Kids' Summit encourages youngsters to engage with the natural world and realize they can make a difference."  To enter, kids simply need to answer in a one-page essay: "What threatened or endangered species in North America do you most want to save and how would you help save it?" For official rules and entry forms, kids and their parents can logon to www.mutualofomaha.com  call 1-800-754-9542, or contact their local Mutual of Omaha representative. The Web site also has testimonials, photographs, teacher lesson plans and winning essays from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom Kids' Summit 2004. The contest opens today and ends Feb. 18, 2004. Promotional partners for the Kids' Summit are Animal Planet and the Los Angeles Zoo.


Protecting the Florida panther
October 7, 2004 www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news

The National Park Service has temporarily closed about 1,900 acres of land within Big Cypress National Preserve to protect the Florida panther, an endangered species. The closure, which went into effect on Wednesday, is in Zone 4. It includes camp C-2 and the secondary trail leading to it. Female panthers that are ready to give birth seek defense and secluded cover, often in saw palmetto that hasn't burned for many years. The mothers may stand their ground against intruders, including bears, bobcats, other panthers or humans. A den has recently been found in the open tree island habitat of southeastern Big Cypress. A male kitten was found at the den on Sept. 29.


Winnipeg Zoo’s Educational Upgrade
October 7, 2004 www.canoe.ca/NewsStand

Winnipeg's zoo is planning a $1-million upgrade of its educational facilities to woo more students. The Assiniboine Park facility was visited yesterday by University of Manitoba architecture students, who have drawn up ideas for building classrooms and a theater that could hold 150 pupils. "We'll get multiple classes attending a zoo program at the same time," said Kerry Renaud, the zoological group's executive director. The new features will occupy the zoo's former Down Under exhibit space, which now houses a room for 50 pupils and is booked heavily. No timeline has been set for the reconstruction and renovations, though Renaud said he's eager to bring in students and expand into more after-hours programming and to attract corporate seminars.


TB Kills Zoo Monkey
October 7, 2004 www.asahi.com/english/

Of two Japanese monkeys that died at a zoo here, one was confirmed to have tuberculosis and the other likely had the disease, zoo officials said. Keepers at the Tennoji Zoo in Tennoji Ward said Tuesday the animals may have been infected by visitors. The zoo's monkey enclosure will remain shut until the surviving 15 animals get a clean bill of health, officials said. Officials said TB was found Monday in a 6-year-old female macaque that died July 29. An autopsy detected lung problems, and further examination confirmed TB. A 3-year-old female monkey died on Oct. 1. It also had lung problems, and was among five of 16 monkeys that registered positive in tuberculin skin tests after the first monkey death. The germ in the monkey that died July 29 is the same type that affects humans. Plastic walls were erected around the exhibit in January 2003. Officials argue that since TB typically stays in the body a long time before it kills, the monkeys were likely infected before then. There is little danger of visitors being infected now, they said.


450 tigers seized from Thai Zoo
October 7, 2004 straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/asia

Police have raided a private zoo in eastern Thailand and confiscated hundreds of tigers they said the facility was breeding illegally, a media report said. Local ITV television station reported that in the Tuesday raid on the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, police seized 450 tigers, including three pairs used for breeding and one dead tiger, which was found frozen. It quoted police as saying that the zoo started breeding tigers illegally in 1992, but did not explain why it took 12 years to take action against it. The zoo will be charged with possessing protected wildlife and breeding wildlife illegally, ITV said. The zoo is already being investigated for exporting 100 tigers to China. Body parts from tigers are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Under Cites regulations, Thailand cannot export tigers - which are classified as being endangered - except for educational and conservation purposes. Less than 5,000 wild tigers currently exist in the world, compared to some 100,000 a century ago, according to the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency.


Metroparks Zoo Breeds Fossas
October 7, 2004 www.sunnews.com/news

Native to Madagascar, there are only about 70 fossas in zoos around the world, 25 in North America. Over the summer, with help from two animals on breeding loan to the zoo, curators were able to add to the number of fossas in captivity by four. To Alan Sironen, mammal curator for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the births marked an opportunity to do groundbreaking research. To Sironen personally, the births led to two house guests consisting of a pair of fossa kits rejected by their mother. Very little is known about fossas.. As one zoo official put it, they are elusive, endangered and the adults can weigh up to 25 pounds and can be very vicious. Just about anything else is unknown.


IMAX Benefit for Minnesota Zoo
October 7, 2004 www.mnsun.com

On Thursday, Oct. 28, there will be conservation benefit featuring "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" at the Imation IMAX Theatre at the Minnesota Zoo. The conservation benefit will start at 5 p.m. with refreshments. A presentation by Minnesota Zoo bird show staff will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the showing of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." The cost for this benefit is $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and younger. Reservations are required by Oct. 21. To register, please call Kari at 952-431-9476 (tax deductible). The Imation IMAX Theatre helps conservation efforts around the world. Last year IMAX contributed more than $12,000 to support projects which promote the conservation of wildlife and natural ecosystems around the world. Information: 952-431-9200 or www.mnzoo.org.


New Japanese Zoo Keeper Game
October 7, 2004 ds.ign.com/articles

Zoo Keeper, an action/puzzle game is set to launch in Japan on 12/2. Zoo Keeper takes place in a small zoo located outside the city. The zoo animals, no longer able to bear the arrogance of the zoo master, have gone nuts and are rampaging the zoo. As a caretaker in the zoo, you must return peace to the facilities. The game is set up on a board showing lots of animal faces. You switch the positions of adjacent animals on the board, attempting to line up three or more of the same animals either horizontally or vertically. Once lined up in this fashion, the group of animals disappear (they're actually considered caught, if you want to continue with the zoo thing). Capture a set number of animals and you move to the next level; fail in the allotted time and the game ends. The game is played using the stylus, so you won't have to mess around with buttons. WiFi support for up to two players is included. The second screen is used as well, showing hilarious pictures of the animals.


Evaluating Bird Counts
October 7, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Bird counts can offer an initial assessment of bird populations, but don't necessarily provide the full picture. In "Avian habitat evaluations: should counting birds count?" published in the October issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Carl Bock and Zach Jones (University of Colorado –Boulder) reviewed studies from the past 20 years, looking at whether a large number of birds in an area meant the birds would successfully reproduce and survive. Their study was inspired by an article written by Beatrice Van Horn in 1983, where she initially suggested that density could be a misleading indicator of habitat quality if it was disconnected from reproductive success or survival. After reviewing multiple studies, Bock and Jones found that counts are generally good indicators, but that there are some disconnects between abundance and reproductive success. They discovered a knowledge gap in understanding the relationship between abundance and survival in birds. This information has been vital in management decisions involving animal conservation.


Zoo builds treadmill for Elephant
October 8, 2004

The Alaska Zoo is building what it believes to be the world's first elephant treadmill as part of plans to enrich the life of its only elephant, Maggie, with better accommodation and activities.  At 9,120 pounds, Maggie could stand tolose weight. Zoo officials are talking with engineers and manufacturers about building Maggie her very own exercise equipment. Designing and building the first elephant treadmill could cost between $150,000 and $250,000, Edwards said. The zoo has talked with mining experts because they know about heavy loads, conveyers and belts. ``We hope to be the first zoo in the world with an elephant treadmill,'' Edwards said. Elephant keeper Rob Smith has been taking Maggie on walks around the zoo's 20-acre property after-hours for exercise. Aboveground feeding stations will be built so that Maggie will have to stretch for her food. ``She won't get any food she doesn't work for,'' Edwards said. Maggie, a 22-year-old African elephant, arrived at the zoo in 1983 as an infant when her herd in Kruger National Park in South Africa was culled. She joined Annabelle, an Asian elephant.


Grevy's Zebra Born at Detroit Zoo
October 8, 2004 biz.yahoo.com/prnews

ROYAL OAK, Mich., Oct. 8. An endangered male Grevy's zebra has been born at the Detroit Zoo. The 115-pound colt named Poco can be seen daily with his mother Candy. Currently, there are approximately 3,500 Grevy's zebras left in the wild and 350 in captivity. The Grevy's zebras are part of the Species Survival Plan, a captive-breeding program among accredited zoos in North America, which maintains healthy populations of threatened and endangered species. Scott Carter, Director of Conservation and Animal Welfare at the Detroit Zoological Institute states, "We are excited about the continued success of our Grevy's zebras breeding program and the contributions we have made to the Species Survival Plan."


Bongo found dead at Potter Park
October 8, 2004 www.lsj.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bea, a 4-year-old Potter Park Zoo bongo, was found dead just hours before she was to undergo an innovative insemination process to help preserve her endangered species. Test results on tissue, blood and urine are expected back next week and likely will indicate the cause of death, zoo officials said Thursday. Bea, a species of antelope native to central Africa, was found lying down and unresponsive in her stall Tuesday morning. Until then, she had appeared healthy. "Right now, we're thinking there may have been a lot of little things that added up to cause her death," said Tara Harrison, Potter Park Zoo veterinarian. "Wild animals, particularly prey animal species, are experts at masking signs of disease as a survival mechanism." Bea's death came one day after her mother became the first bongo in the world to be artificially inseminated. Zoo Director Gerald Brady said Thursday he talked with a Texas zoo and hoped to get a new female and male for Lansing through the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's Species Survival Program. Scientists from the Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans, here for the insemination, took Bea's ovaries back to New Orleans. They hope to recover and preserve her eggs, which could be fertilized and transferred into a surrogate bongo.


Cell Phones Enhance Zoo Visit
October 8, 2004 mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news

A system that allows zoo visitors to see unusual images and sounds of zoo animals by scanning a code with their cell phones is being introduced at a municipal zoo here. The system, in which users of camera-equipped cell phones scan a digital code to view Internet images of the animals on their phones, will be introduced at Chiba Zoological Park on Saturday. It is reportedly the first system of its kind to be introduced at a zoo. In the past, visitors to the zoo had often complained because animals often spent the day sleeping, and officials had been considering ways to improve the situation. Under the system, codes for cell phones are set up outside animals' cages. When users scan the codes with NTT DoCoMo phones capable of reading QR codes, they can connect to the Internet and receive images and sounds of the animals. Among the sounds and images uses can receive are the catlike cry of the ring-tailed lemur and the images of an Egyptian vulture smashing an ostrich egg with a stone. At first tests will be started with 20 animals and birds, but plans to increase this number and the type of cell phones that can be used are reportedly underway. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, Oct. 8, 2004)


New Hamilton Zoo Chimp Exhibit
October 8, 2004 www.stuff.co.nz

The chimpanzee sisters, Sally and Suzy have come down from Auckland to take up residence in their specially designed enclosure complete with ropes, benches, races and straw, at Hamilton Zoo. Four other chimps – Mike, Lucy, Luka and Lucifer – also made the trip and for the next week will be settling in before moving outside. Auckland Zoo senior primate keeper Christine Tintinger said Hamilton Zoo's facilities were fantastic. "They have dens in case the chimps get sick or they're breeding. We couldn't offer them these facilities in Auckland, so we'll concentrate on orangutans instead," she said. Chimps are extremely intelligent but get bored very easily, and when that happens they became naughty. "Luka's 10 and he's a bit naughty, but he's just at that age where he's testing everybody. "If he comes up and hits someone and they scream he'll think it's great." The 6 new chimpanzees will be officially welcomed to Hamilton Zoo on October 30.


Akron Zoo labor pact approved
October 8, 2004 www.ohio.com  By Carol Biliczky

A five-year agreement has been reached that includes worker pay increases, more paid holidays, enhanced health-care package. The Akron Zoo is paying $98,000 more a year for employee salaries and benefits through a newly approved union contract. The pact elevates the pay of covered employees by 3 percent to 4 percent for each year of the five-year agreement, gives them two more paid holidays and enhances their health-care package.``We're looking forward to the future,'' said zoo Vice President Linda Troutman. ``Now we can focus our attention on the two major exhibits we'll be opening next year.'' The Cleveland Teamsters Local 507 represents about 30 full- and part-time employees who work as animal keepers, horticulturists and grounds maintenance workers. They ratified the package -- the first at the zoo -- by a 17-3 vote Wednesday. What they get in raises each year will depend on where they are on the wage scale, Troutman said. For example, the entry level wage for animal keepers went from $6.50 an hour to $7 and that of a senior animal keeper from $10.50 to $11. Hearing, dental and vision benefits also will be included in the health-care policy for the first time. About 40 employees who aren't covered by the union will be eligible for the enhanced benefits package.


Rhode Island Zoo Pumpkin Show
October 8, 2004 www.zwire.com

More than 5,000 jack o'lanterns cover three acres at a Rhode Island zoo for a pumpkin-based light and art show. More than 30 professional pumpkin carvers spent six weeks carving and lighting their gourds for the show, which is held at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.  More than 30 professional pumpkin carvers have spent the last six weeks preparing the spectacular’s main attraction: more than 5,000 exquisite jack-o’-lanterns. All of the pumpkins in the 2004 Jack-O’-Lantern Spectacular were thoughtfully incorporated into themed exhibits, such as famous landmarks, famous people, Academy Award-winning films, tributes to lost heroes and legends, animal-inspired designs and traditional Halloween motifs. Exhibits include stunning recreations of the Parthenon, Japanese pagodas and the canals of Venice. Selected by the Library of Congress as a national "local legacy," the spectacular was founded in 1988 by John Reckner, a mailman from Oxford, Mass. The spectacular is open nightly from 6 to 11 p.m., Oct. 7 through the 31st. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for children and $10 for seniors. Discounted group rates are also available. All proceeds benefit the Roger Williams Park Zoo. The Jack O'Lantern Spectacular drew 80,000 people last year. The Library of Congress has designated the event a local legacy.


National Zoo Passes Inspection
October 8, 2004 www.fredericksburg.com/News

The National Zoo, which has been under fire recently, got some good news yesterday. The USDA found no significant problems when it conducted its third unannounced inspection of the year on Sept. 8. This survey focused on exotic cats, marine mammals, beavers and river otters at the Washington landmark. The agency reported only one noncompliant item--spilled sunflower seeds and hulls in a birdseed storage area near an exhibit of caracals, an African lynx. That was immediately corrected during the inspection. No other new problems were noted. The USDA found that the zoo had corrected the three items from its February inspection: Rodent access to the kangaroo yard is under control; problem areas in the Elephant House have been resurfaced and painted; and the elephant exhibit bars have been repaired. All USDA inspections are unannounced.


Indian Elephants Losing Battle
October 8, 2004 www.enn.com

GUWAHATI, India — It is an unexpected headache for the Indian army, an unlikely embarrassment for the government, and an unwelcome challenge for the railways department. Elephants in India are on the rampage, coming into conflict with humans ever more frequently and ever more dangerously. It is a battle the normally gentle animals seem destined to lose. In the northeastern Indian state of Assam, elephants have been raiding army depots, eating the military's rations, drinking its liquor, and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. In Bangladesh, stray elephants from India have been terrorizing villagers and destroying farms, roads, and houses, the latest irritant in a testy relationship between the South Asian neighbors. The elephants had strayed after forests in the Indian state of Meghalaya were hastily cleared to build a highway. Across northern India, train drivers have had to cope with elephant herds, whose traditional migration routes have been bisected by railway tracks. "Human-elephant conflict is at a peak now," said Dinesh Choudhury, who tracks "rogue" elephants in the forests of Assam and tries to save them from death at the hands of angry villagers. "And elephants will be the loser."


Nobel Prize to African Environmentalist
October 8, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is the first African woman to win the prize, first awarded in 1901. She gained recent acclaim for a campaign planting 30 million trees to stave off deforestation.  Maathai, 64, learned about the award while campaigning to protect forests and distributing food to hungry constituents suffering from drought near her hometown of Nyeri in central Kenya. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while head of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She abandoned a promising academic career as a biology professor to pursue her environment projects.


Tiger Dental Surgery at SDZoo
October 9, 2004 www.latimes.com

Anesthetized Awang Relak was strapped down on a surgical table Friday at the San Diego Zoo for procedures to help save his life. A dental-medical team swarmed around the 240-pound Indochinese tiger's head as dentist Dave Fagan worked to remove several defective teeth, clean out pockets of infection and pry smaller teeth away from larger ones. At the nether region of the sleeping animal, another team of specialists was accomplishing another chore: removing sperm for the "frozen zoo," the institution's project to store sperm and eggs from endangered animals for possible use in reproductive efforts to stave off extinction.


Cataract Surgery on Himalayan Bear
October 10, 2004 news.newkerala.com/health-news-india

INDIA – A team of doctors successfully performed a surgery to remove a cataract from the eye of a 32-year-old Himalayan bear, the latest in a series of such procedures on animals at the zoo here. The four ophthalmologists removed the cataract from the right eye of the female bear named Bello. The same team had successfully performed similar surgery this year on a lion-tailed macaque, a tigress and a lioness. The team of doctors, three of them from the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology led by K. Mahadevan, completed Sunday's surgery in just under 30 minutes. "Though we had made arrangements for a special intra-ocular lens from a Vadodara-based manufacturer, we decided not to insert the lens. The bear is still under sedation and has been shifted to a new cage in the zoo hospital. She is fine", said Saju Kurian George, one of the doctors. The two bears in Thiruvananthapuram Zoo were near-totally blind due to cataract and corneal opacity. With the operation, one of them can now see. The zoo authorities now plan to have the other bear undergo the same operation. All three animals that had undergone the cataract surgery are fine and can see properly. Postoperative care is the most difficult part of these surgeries because it is easy for the animals to get infected. They are thus kept in a cage where it is difficult for them to move for a few days after the operation.


Finnish Zoo Babboon cull stopped
October 11, 2004 www.alertnet.org/thenews

Fourteen baboons due to be killed in a cull at a Finnish zoo may win a stay of execution after a public outcry, its curator said on Monday. Helsinki Zoo's Leif Blomqvist said the planned cull could be delayed after the decision sparked a media uproar and led to thousands signing a petition to save the monkeys. "Because of this publicity it is possible that we will have to postpone the decision," Blomqvist said. "I knew there would be a reaction ... but I am a little bit surprised by the huge impact it's had." The zoo said last week the animals would be killed in November after it failed to find a temporary home for them while their concrete pen is renovated. Finland's tabloid newspapers ran the story on their front pages on Monday and organisers of a Web site petition (www.webduo.fi/paviaanit) to save the monkeys said more than 3,200 people had signed up.


Bird Society donates to Zoo
October 11, 2004 www.southbendtribune.com

The Michiana Bird Society has donated $10,000 toward the construction of an aviary for the South American Trail scheduled for construction at the Potawatomi Zoo. The trail is a $300,000 project that will immerse zoo visitors into the habitat of more than 30 free-roaming animals, including monkeys, sloths and giant rodents called cavies. The walk-through aviary will feature flocks of colorful birds such as macaws and toucans. This is the largest single donation that the Bird Society has given toward a zoo project, according to a news release. The donation will be used to match a $50,000 grant the zoo received in May 2004 from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. The zoo also unveiled a new pair of European white storks during the weekend. The birds have bright orange beaks and migrate between Europe and Africa each year. This is the first time white storks have been displayed at the zoo.


Glady’s Porter Baby Gorilla
October 11, 2004 www.brownsvilleherald.com

Bangori, an 8-month-old baby Western Lowland Gorilla is one of dozens of gorillas who have been born and cared for at Glady’s Porter Zoo. He is temporarily being raised by the zoo’s curators, including general curator Jerry Stones. Stones cradles the gorilla that he has helped raise since birth because Bangori’s teenage mother couldn’t. Bangori, who was born Feb. 18 at the zoo, is the third baby born to Mary and Moja, who has been at the zoo since 1997. After a few more months of getting to know his surrogate mother, his Aunt Martha. While Bangori is one of the more recognized births at the zoo this year, there have actually been more than 100 births since January, according to zoo reports.  The total number includes at least 13 births for five endangered species and one that is considered threatened wildlife, according to the United States Department of Interior List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. With three baby radiated turtles, two black swans, two zebras (one Grevy’s, one Grant’s), a black spider monkey and numerous species of birds, Small World at the zoo has kept busy.


Trash Causes Condor Breeding Problems
October 11, 2004 www.sfgate.com

Allan Mee, a wildlife biologist with the San Diego Zoo, is watching a wild condor chick through a spotting scope at a remote viewing area in the backcountry of Ventura County. "We're keeping our fingers crossed," Mee said with guarded optimism. Glass shards and metal scraps have killed or threatened two of the three condor chicks born this year in the wild. The third -- the young bird Mee kept an eye on late last week -- is only days away from becoming the first wild condor fledgling in California in 20 years.  For the past three years, wild hatchlings have died after ingesting large amounts of trash. Last month, a chick brought in with a broken wing was found with a record 35 bottle caps in its stomach. In 2002, all three chicks that hatched in California died about a month shy of their anticipated fledge dates. While cause of death was unknown for two of the birds, the third died of zinc poisoning after ingesting electrical fixtures, screws, and washers coated with the heavy metal. In 2003, the state's only wild chick exhibited stunted growth after ingesting large amounts of trash, including an 18-inch rag, and had to be euthanized after jagged glass shards perforated its stomach, causing respiratory damage resulting in pneumonia.


WWF Reaction to CITES ivory trade ban
October 11, 2004 news.yahoo.com

Ginette Hemley, vice president for species conservation at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says that "For the first time, the plan endorsed today commits every African country with an internal ivory market to either strictly control the trade or shut it down completely." Africa's unregulated domestic ivory markets continue to be the biggest driver of poaching for illegal trade, according to a report issued at the meeting by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. The illegal ivory trade fuels the killing of at least 4,000 elephants annually across Africa, TRAFFIC found. For more information contact Jan Vertefeuille, WWF, in Bangkok, 011-66-4098-4018 (11 hours ahead of Eastern time) or janv@wwfus.org.


Tiger at SDZoo has dental surgery
October 11, 2004 abcnews.go.com/US

A tiger named Awang Relak could help keep his species from becoming extinct, zoo officials say, but first he needs to do something about his teeth. The 240-pound Indochinese tiger was anesthetized and strapped to a medical table at the San Diego Zoo on Friday so a dentist could clean out pockets of infection and pry smaller teeth away from larger ones. While that was going on a veterinarian was probing the 3-year-old's private parts, making sure his sperm count is good enough that he'll be able to mate with female tigers when he's older. "He was a fabulous patient," said veterinarian Nancy Boedeker. In about another year he could be ready for a date with Mek Degong, a female tiger that, like Awang Relak, was brought to San Diego from Malaysia's Melaka Zoo. Tiger species around the world are in danger from poachers and decreasing habitat, but Awang Relak also had other worries. He is missing his canine teeth, and the others are in such bad shape that officials say it is likely he would have starved in the wild.


20-Year Woodland Park Zoo Plan
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October 12, 2004 seattletimes.nwsource.com

The Seattle City Council has approved a new 20-year plan for the Woodland Park Zoo that paves the way for a new garage, office building, events center and carousel ride, as well as a "winter zoo" and improved animal exhibits. Although the plan is controversial with some neighbors and open-space and transit advocates, the council voted unanimously for it. Council members said the plan is overdue and will help usher in a new era of financial stability for the zoo, as well as make it more welcoming to patrons. Zoo president, Deborah Jensen, said she appreciated neighbors' concerns but maintained the plan would not change the character of the zoo. The new facilities would add just 1.5 percent of developed space to the zoo's 92 acres, she stressed. Councilman Nick Licata added several neighborhood safeguards to the plan, including a complaint procedure and a way for neighbors to know of the events the zoo plans for a particular year. weddings and parties. The center is expected to host up to 500 events a year, with the average event attended by 120 people.


Moonridge Animal Park Relocation
October 12, 2004 www.bigbeargrizzly.net/articles

The process to move the Moonridge Animal Park from its current location to U.S. Forest Service is complicated. Each side of the partnership table has had a chance to review and discuss the proposed joint venture management plan, the animal park's business plan and the proposed memorandum of understanding. Paul Bennett, district recreation officer for the San Bernardino National Forest said the key issues that concern the U.S. Forest Service at this point involve water sources, animals and the Big Bear Discovery Center. Water for the Discovery Center comes from a well located in a meadow on the south side of Highway 38. Tapping into that water source could impact the meadow, which is home to four endangered plant species. That source is not available for use by the proposed animal park. Bringing in a water line specifically for the park could cost the county an estimated $800,000. The Forest Service wants the option to connect to the new line and the county wants reimbursement if that happens. "That's acceptable to us," Bennett said. "At some point in the future if we decided to connect to the line, we would be willing to pay into that reimbursement fund." Both the Forest Service and the county agree the animal park's primary focus will be to showcase species native to Alpine ecosystems with the emphasis on animals native to forests in San Bernardino County. Bennett said that contrary to popular belief, the Forest Service does not want to limit the types of animals at the park. "We are not trying to run the zoo, we don't want total control of the zoo," Bennett said.


CITES Report on shark, whale & wrasse
October 12, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) has put the shark on its Appendix II list, which demands tighter regulations. The move was passed at the behest of both Australia and Madagascar. Great white sharks are targeted commercially and by recreational fishermen for their valuable jaws and teeth. Their fins, like those of other sharks, are in high demand for soup. Accurate great white numbers are not known, but scientists say available data suggests the population is in decline. The great white already had an Appendix III listing. It has now become only the third shark to be afforded Appendix II protection under Cites, joining the far larger but gentle basking and whale sharks. In a separate development, Japan's proposal to hunt minke whales commercially has been rejected by Cites. The convention currently gives minkes an Appendix I listing, which bans all trade; Japan had sought a relegation to Appendix II. But the proposal fell well short of the support it needed for adoption, with a majority of the 166 Cites delegates voting against the motion in Bangkok. The move preserves an 18-year-long moratorium on commercial whaling. There are more than one million minke whales worldwide, according to data presented to Cites, and Japan argued that their numbers were now at a level that could withstand limited harvesting.  A large majority of the delegates disagreed, however; and they also went on to approve regulating the trade in humphead wrasse, a distinctive coral reef fish that lives in the Indo-Pacific. It can grow to a hefty 2m in length. Its rarity, and the fact that it is a prized delicacy, means the creature can retail at around US$130/kg, making it one of the most valuable fish in the live reef fish trade. It will now have an Appendix II listing like the great white.


CITES rejects Namibia’s ivory bid
October 12, 2004 www.namibian.com.na

Namibia’s ivory proposal was rejected last night at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). It was considered amidst fierce opposition by trade and wildlife activists, Permanent Secretary of Environment and Tourism Malan Lindeque told The Namibian from Bangkok, Thailand, yesterday. They fear permitting the trade will threaten the existence of the African elephant. Lindeque said he did not view the rejection as a setback for Namibia. He said Government could consider exploring other options and would have to reconsider its approach before submitting a proposal to Cites again. While Namibia's request to sell goods made of ivory, such as jewellery, was thrown out along with that of South Africa's, it will be permitted to start up trade in goods made from elephant leather and hair. Kenya was a major opponent of Namibia's proposal, citing severe poaching in that country during the 1970s and 1980s. Some lobbyists feel that allowing that type of trade could make their countries vulnerable to poaching.


Greenhouse Gas Jump
October 12, 2004 www.enn.com

OSLO, Norway — An unexplained jump in greenhouse gases since 2002 might herald a catastrophic acceleration of global warming if it becomes a trend, scientists said on Monday. But they said the two-year leap might be an anomaly linked, for instance, to forest fires in Siberia or to a freak hot summer in Europe in 2003 rather than a portent of runaway climate change linked to human disruption of the climate system. "There have been two years where the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) has been faster than average," said Richard Betts, Manager for Ecosystems and Climate Impacts at Britain's Hadley Center. "We shouldn't get alarmist about this.... If it lasted for more than about five years, you'd start to get worried," he said. Carbon dioxide levels, the main gas blamed for blanketing the planet and pushing up temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, have risen by more than two parts per million (ppm) in the past two years against a recent rate of about 1.5 ppm. Scientists said the figures were confirmed at sites including Mauna Loa, Hawaii; west Ireland; and the Norwegian Arctic island of Svalbard, about 1,300 km (800 miles) miles from the North Pole. The rise was less in the southern hemisphere. The rise in the past two years is quicker than mapped out in U.N. projections to the year 2100 based on increased human use of fossil fuels like coal, oil, or gas. Higher temperatures could trigger everything from desertification to rising sea levels.


South East Asian Nations fight illegal trade
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October 12, 2004 www.enn.com

The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged to share intelligence, review weak laws, and tighten borders in a region that accounts for one-quarter of the global illegal trade in animals and plants. "There has been virtually no cross-border law enforcement cooperation going on. So this is a big moment," said Steve Galster, director of WildAid Thailand, which had called for a "wildlife Interpol" for the region. "Once they start doing joint operations and put pressure on these traffickers, they are going to catch some of them." The announcement was made at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok, where Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra offered to host a summit on a regional law enforcement network next year. Conservationists say Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand are used by smugglers to transport everything from rhino horns and tiger skins to rare snakes, fresh water turtles, and tropical wood. The profits are huge. One Asian rhino horn can bring a poacher up to US$500 and command between $37,000 and $50,000 from its end buyers. Tiger skins can sell for $15,000. Ramin, a timber used for snooker and pool cues and threatened by illegal logging, can vary from $600 to $1,200 per cubic meter. Some traffickers are linked to organized crime. Others use the Internet to sell their goods. Few are caught, and if they are arrested, jail terms are rare.


Mystery Animal found in Texas
October 12, 2004 www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news

LUFKIN, Texas -- Local animal experts are having a hard time identifying a strange looking animal killed in Angelina County on Friday -- an animal that looks eerily similar to the as yet unidentified "Elmendorf Beast" killed near San Antonio earlier this year. Stacy Womack, who has more than 20 years experience working at Ellen Trout Zoo and for a local veterinarian said she's seen and handled a lot of different animals, but that she's never seen anything like this one. "It's not a dog," she said. The animal's blue-grey skin is almost hairless and appears to be covered with mange, and its claws are entirely too long for a dog. A closer look at the animal's jaw line reveals a serious overbite and four huge canine teeth, and a long, rat-like tail curls behind the animal's emaciated frame. Womack was called to take a photograph of the animal, and possibly help identify it, as well. A live animal, just like the one in the picture, darted across the road in front of her car while she was driving to the scene.  A Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist said it was likely a coyote with mange, but wasn't able to match the animal's skull shape -- and overbite -- with pictures of coyotes in reference books.  C.R. Shilling, of the West Loop Animal Clinic in Lufkin said that after seeing pictures of the animal -- he believes the animal is probably a coyote. The animal likely suffers from demodex mange, he said, and possibly a secondary skin infection or even a congenital skin defect, as well. "That's just a congenital defect," Shilling said when asked about the animal's unusual jaw configuration. "We'll even get dogs like that in here."


Mongolian Reindeer decline
October 12, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com

For centuries the nomadic Tsaatan people have roamed the taiga of northern Mongolia, raising the reindeer that provide their livelihood. But untreated disease and inbreeding now threaten the reindeer herds, and today the future of the Tsaatan's 3,000-year-old culture is uncertain. Myagar Nansalmaa, a veterinarian with the Mongolian State Veterinary Laboratory in Ulaanbaatar, is one of three researchers who are currently investigating the health problems of the reindeer.  Joining her quest to help the animals, and the Tsaatan, are Jerry Haigh, a past president of the American College of Zoological Medicine and a veterinarian at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and Morgan Keay, a wildlife biologist based in Boulder, Colorado.  The trio are currently analyzing genetic samples they collected from the reindeer. They have already determined that a significant portion of the reindeer population is plagued by Brucella suis, bacteria that cause a serious form of brucellosis. The infectious disease attacks the reindeer's reproductive system and, in turn, causes stillbirths or abnormally small offspring. The bacteria also trigger bursitis, a swelling of the joints that is a particularly menacing condition for a nomadic animal. Nansalmaa believes the blood parasite anaplasma has also infected and caused sickness in the herd.


CITES rules on Swaziland exports
October 13, 2004 www.enn.com

A U.N. conference gave Swaziland the green light on Tuesday to export some of its white rhinos and bring in trophy hunters occasionally to shoot the massive animals. The decision followed last week's lifting of a ban on hunting rarer black rhino in Namibia and South Africa, which was protested by animal welfare lobbyists. Swaziland's proposal was not as controversial, but it goes to the heart of some of the issues at CITES. Swaziland has 61 white rhinos, the second largest land mammal after the elephant, and space is an issue in a small, developing country of 1 million people and rising. "Our space is limited, and our white rhino populations are reaching ecological carrying capacity for the species," said Swazi delegate James Reilly. Reilly said that money raised from exports of live animals or trophy hunts would be used for rhino conservation. Only one trophy hunt would be allowed every two years at most, and problem animals would be targeted. "Our prefered option is live removal," said Reilly.  White rhinos have been hunted in South Africa legally for more than three decades. Pushed to the brink of extinction a century ago, the southern sub-species of the horned titan now numbers several thousand. Rhinos are still targeted by poachers in Africa and Asia for their horns, But Swaziland has not lost a rhino to poachers for 12 years, Reilly said.


Thailand’s elephants
October 13, 2004 www.enn.com

Rising demand for elephants, especially the easily trained calves favored by some 150 elephant camps across Thailand, is threatening dwindling wild populations in the jungles of Indochina. "Thais love elephants, and they are afraid they will become extinct," a senior researcher in the National Parks Department said of the habit of giving money to street elephants. "They help the elephants, but their help is hurting these elephants. More and more of them are being exploited." Foreign animal rights groups have criticized Thailand's handling of elephants as Bangkok hosts the CITES conference. There are around 6,000 elephants in Thailand, half of them domesticated, compared to 1 million just a century ago, according to the National Parks Department. Asian elephants, mainly found in South and Southeast Asia, were used for centuries for everything from logging to carrying troops into war. But as humans encroached on their habitat, elephants were caught, domesticated, and used for entertainment. Elephant camp owners say the beasts can no longer live in the wild.


Dallas Zoo Fined for Gorilla Escape
October 13, 2004 www.nbc5i.com/news

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined the city of Dallas $10,000 over the March escape of a gorilla at the city zoo. Zoo officials have said that a 340-pound gorilla named Jabari leaped across a moat and wall before going on a 40-minute rampage. Four people were injured before police shot and killed the gorilla. The city attorney's office says it's reviewing the USDA letter sent last month that notified the zoo of the fine. When the animal charged two of the department's tactical officers around 5:30 p.m., getting within 15 feet of them, the officers fired three shots, Dallas Deputy Police Chief Daniel Garcia said. Jabari, a lowland plains gorilla, died.


Koala survives
10/13/04

A tiny koala who had to be taken early from his mother's pouch has made what zoo staff call a "miraculous recovery". Three weeks ago Koori was dehydrated, underweight and suffering from an infection. At first he seemed reluctant to accept his surrogate mother, a Sydney zookeeper. But now the feisty marsupial - still small enough to fit into the palm of an adult's hand - is beginning to chomp eucalyptus leaves. Koori was removed from his mother Jolie's pouch in mid-September, when he was just over six months old and weighed just 320 grams (11 ounces). Koalas normally only begin to venture outside their mothers' pouches at between seven and nine months' old, but staff at Taronga Zoo in Sydney noticed Jolie had developed a rash and realized her health was beginning to deteriorate. "We discussed the situation with the veterinarians and they recommended intervening to save Jolie any further anxiety and to ensure Koori's survival as Koala mothers are known to throw their babies out of the pouch if they become over-stressed," said Ms Rainey.


Young Lioness gives birth
October 13, 2004 www.news.com.au

An 18 month old lioness at Aalborg Zoo in Jutland, Denmark gave birth to a litter of 9 cubs. The usual age at which a lioness first gives birth is three or 3 1/2 years. Five of the new litter of cubs had to be destroyed, but the remaining 4 have survived.


Frozen DNA may save species
October 13, 2004 www.kansascity.com

The international science project called the Frozen Ark - is an attempt to preserve the DNA of thousands of the world's endangered species before they go extinct. In the distant future, they may even try to resurrect vanished creatures. DNA, the genetic code for building all living things, theoretically could be used to reconstruct a simple animal like a beetle or a jellyfish, but likely not a ``Jurassic Park''-style dinosaur. "Despite the best efforts of many people and conservationists, hundreds of thousands of extinctions have taken place before the animals could be rescued," said British zoologist Ann Clarke, director of the Frozen Ark project. Another 10,000 species are expected to disappear in the next 50 years. "We aim to collect their DNA," Clarke said in an e-mail from her office at the Institute of Genetics at the University of Nottingham in England. "The loss of a species by extinction causes the irreplaceable loss of millions of years of evolution. If the cells and DNA are preserved, much of this information is saved."  For more information on the Web about the Frozen Ark project, go to www.zsl.org/news/n(underscore)0000001625.asp


El Paso Zoo Director Resigns
October 13, 2004 www.borderlandnews.com

Bill Torgerson, director of the El Paso Zoo for the past 3 1/2 years, has resigned effective today to take a position as chief operating officer of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington. "He did a really good job for us," Mayor Joe Wardy said. Wardy said he does not think the city will have difficulty finding a new zoo director, given the $33 million expansion that is under way.


CITES Herp Decisions
October 13, 2004 herpdigest.org

Malagasy spider tortoise: Pyxis arachnoids was uplisted from Appendix II to Appendix I (Prop.15).
Malayan snail-eating turtle: Malayemys subtrijuga was listed in Appendix II (Prop.17).
Malayan flat-shelled turtle: Notochelys platynota was listed in Appendix II (Prop.19).
Southeast Asian softshell turtle: Amyda cartilaginea was listed in Appendix II (Prop.20).
Pig-nosed turtle: Carettochelys insculpta was listed in Appendix II (Prop. 22).
American crocodile: Cuba’s populations of Crocodylus acutus were transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II (Prop.24).
Nile crocodile: Namibia’s populations of Crocodylus niloticus were transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II (Prop.25), while Zambia withdrew its proposal to subject its Appendix II-listed Crocodylus niloticus to an annual export quota (Prop.26).
Leaf-tailed geckos: Uroplatus spp. was listed in Appendix II (Prop.27).
Leaf-nose and Arboreal snakes: Proposals to list Langaha spp. (Prop.28) and Stenophis citrinus in Appendix II (Prop.29) were withdrawn.
Mt. Kenya bush viper and Kenya horned viper: Proposals to include Atheris desaixi (Prop.30) and Bitis worthingtoni in Appendix II (Prop.31) were withdrawn.


Another murder at Mysore Zoo
October 14, 2004

NEW DELHI: The recent death of two calf-elephants reported from Mysore zoo has irked Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The cause of this death was the same by which an endangered lion-tail monkey was found dead in the same zoo last August. The monkey was a "breeder", loaned from a Chennai zoological garden following the lion-tail monkey conservation programme. According to the CZA both cases are being probed simultaneously. Even police reportedly failed to find out any alibi behind the killing, but fear insider involvement in both these cases. Though the MoEF mandarins are tight-lipped about the cause of the monkey's death, insiders said it was a murder by food poisoning, using the same chemical. Speaking exclusively to TNN, CZA's member-secretary BR Sharma said, "What torments us most is why this murder? There cannot be anything in the calves commercially useful. No tusk, no bones. No dissection was made in the bodies. Besides, the calves died of poisoning by zinc sulphide, used in kiling rats and rodents. The same chemical killed the lion-tail monkeys last month."


Rhinos arrive at Phoenix Zoo
October 14, 2004 www.azcentral.com

Notch and Half-Ear are in the building. Well, actually the white rhinos are in their new habitat at the Phoenix Zoo, thanks in large part to businessman Jeff Giek. Giek, who is such a fan of rhinoceroses that he named his two Tempe companies Rhino Internet Solutions and Rhino Staging, led the effort to bring the female rhinos from the Wilds animal park in Ohio to the Phoenix Zoo. He also bankrolled the upgrading of the rhino habitat at the zoo. Giek even went to Ohio and drove back to Phoenix with the rhinos. "It was cool," he said. "I got to hang out with them a little bit." The effort to bring the rhinos to Phoenix began after the zoo's popular rhinoceros, Khetla, died in 2002. The zoo will host a welcoming event for the new rhinos from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.


Carousel horses at Woodland Park Zoo
October 15, 2004 seattlepi.nwsource.com/local

48 finely carved wooden carousel horses were donated to the Woodland Park Zoo in the late 1990s. On Monday, the Seattle City Council resolved a long deadlock over the zoo's future plans that had left the horses locked up in the storage unit. The horses found themselves corralled in a controversy over the zoo's 20-year plan. Opponents in the neighborhood fought an element in the plan to build a four-story parking structure, saying it would add traffic in the neighborhood, be out of character with the zoo's setting and be an eyesore. Others said the Allens' donated carousel and a new events center would obscure the zoo's focus and clutter the park with buildings. The horses in storage were carved for the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918 by John Zalar, an Austrian woodworker who also carved religious sculptures. With some prancing, others rearing, they're a hybrid with the fancy Coney Island-style, with jewels, flowers, lion heads or swords carved on their right sides -- which is the one facing outward.


Milwaukee Zoo Koala goes to SD Zoo
October 15, 2004 www.themilwaukeechannel.com

The Milwaukee County Zoo 's last remaining koala is being moved to the San Diego Zoo. Moondani is 6 years old and has been in Milwaukee for about three years. But he's been alone since the zoo's other koalas died, and Milwaukee's climate isn't the best for the marsupials. Keepers decided Moondani would be better off in California.


Hippos kill zebra at Basel Zoo
October 15, 2004 www.capetimes.co.za

Basel, Switzerland: Three hippos attacked and killed a zebra they had lived alongside for years in front of shocked visitors at Basel Zoo. The 17-year-old zebra named Kalungu had lived alongside the hippos and other animals in the African enclosure of the zoo for 12 years. He was knocked into the water and mauled after he bit the lip of hippo Wilhelm during the animals' daily ritual to establish territory, said zoo spokeswoman Tanja Dietrich. The zebra managed to get out of the water but collapsed and died shortly afterwards.


Baby male gorilla at Stuttgart
October 15, 2004 www.ananova.com/news

Staff at Stuttgart Zoo were surprised when a 4-month-old gorilla baby brought to them from Berlin Zoo turned out to be a boy. After its birth in Berlin, little Makoua had been listed as a girl. Berlin Zoo vet André Schuele told the Berliner Kurier it wasn't him who checked the animal after it was born. But he said he can understand the mistake. "In the first days after the birth, it's easy to get it wrong because the sexual organs aren't that well developed." At Stuttgart's Wilhelmina Zoo, staff immediately noticed Makouka was by no means female. Makouka is now living in the zoo's "gorilla-kindergarten" along with seven other young animals.


Chafee Zoo Orangutan escapes
October 15, 2004 abclocal.go.com

The orangutan "Siabu" unraveled the netting on her cage and crawled out. She returned on her own to the exhibit within ten minutes with no damage done. For safety reasons, visitors were escorted out of the zoo during the escape, but were allowed to return soon after. Zookeepers made immediate repairs to the exhibit, so the orangutan can't get out again.


Renovating Monarto Zoo
October 15, 2004 murraybridge.yourguide.com.au

PLANS for the upgrade of Monarto Zoological Park are forging ahead, with the park now waiting for government grant applications to finalize before moving ahead. The zoo is working with the River Murray Catchment Water Management Board to desalinate underground water. Monarto Zoological Park curator Peter Clark said a group of partners is working on the project. "There is a lot water underneath us and we would prefer to use that if we could." Mr Clarke said this water would be used for exhibits in the new "waterhole", where visitors to the zoo would soon be able to feed giraffes. The whole project itself will cost about $300,000. Mr Clarke said, if the application were successful, the zoo would receive a grant of about $140,000 from the federal government, paying the rest itself. "We are going through the master planning exercise at the moment and are hoping to have it completed by mid next year," he said.


Aukland Zoo's new frog facility
October 15, 2004 www.scoop.co.nz

A dedicated facility at Auckland Zoo to breed one of New Zealand's most endangered native frogs is to be opened by Conservation Minister Chris Carter this afternoon.The Carter Holt Harvey Native Frog Research Centre, a joint conservation project of Auckland Zoo, the Department of Conservation (DOC), and Carter Holt Harvey will mainly focus on breeding, researching and advocating for Archey's frog. The smallest of New Zealand's four remaining endemic frogs (all of which are acutely threatened), Archey's frog grows to just 37mm in length, and belongs to the ancient amphibian genus Leiopelma, found nowhere else in the world. Along with Hamilton's frog, Archey's is classified as "nationally critical" - the highest DOC threat category.The state-of-the-art Auckland Zoo facility, which replicates the Archey's moist, misty, cool, high altitude habitat, was designed in collaboration with DOC's National Frog Recovery Group, Carter Holt Harvey, Auckland Zoo, and other similar institutions in Australasia. Even the decking surrounding the building has been isolated from the main structure, as Archey's frog feels the slightest vibration through its sensitive feet.


Amphibian Extinction Report
October 15, 2004 www.enn.com

Amphibians everywhere are in serious trouble, and up to one-third of species are threatened with extinction, a troubling new study said on Friday. Scientists say this is an ominous sign for other creatures, including humans, as amphibians are widely regarded as biological "canaries in the coal mine," since their permeable skin is highly sensitive to changes in the environment. In short, they go first, and others follow. The first comprehensive survey of a grouping that includes frogs, toads, and salamanders, the Global Amphibian Assessment says that at least nine species have become extinct since 1980. It says 113 more have not been reported in the wild in recent years and are believed to have vanished. The full details will be published in a few weeks in the respected journal Science. After birds and mammals, amphibians are only the third broad group of animals to be surveyed on such a global scale. More than 500 scientists from more than 60 countries contributed to the report. The three-year study analyzed the distribution and conservation status of all 5,743 known amphibian species. Scientists from Conservation International and the IUCN collaborated on the study.


Zoo nutritionists set menu for creatures great and small
October 15, 2004 www.dallasnews.com By ALINE McKENZIE

FORT WORTH – Sometimes they're pouring liquid nitrogen over leaves, creating a smoky sort of mad-scientist scene. Sometimes they're – carefully – putting their hands around a porcupine to test whether it's overweight. These zoo nutritionists might be analyzing a food shipment's quality, or trying to make an animal's diet as natural as possible. "Obviously, we can't feed a lion zebra," says Fort Worth Zoo spokeswoman Lindsay Nantz, 27. (The lions get horsemeat instead.) Zoo nutritionists are almost as rare as some of the animals they study. There are only about a dozen in the United States, and only a handful of zoos perform their own research. "A lot of the judgment is how the animals look and behave," says Ann Ward, the zoo's director of nutritional services. "Every once in a while, I get to touch them. And that makes it fun."


New Debrazza’s monkey at Lincoln Park Zoo
10/15/04 abclocal.go.com

The new Center for African Apes has been the center of attention since September 27th when that cute little gorilla, snuggled in mommy's arms, arrived. But the same day the baby gorilla was born, there was another birth here at Lincoln Park Zoo. Hardly anyone even noticed but now the baby DeBrazza's monkey is in the spotlight. "It's a very important birth. There are only 77 DeBrazza's monkeys in North American zoos currently and we need to grow that population to have a sustainable population," said Dr. Robyn Barbiers, V.P. Lincoln Park Zoo Collections.


Chimpanzee Tinku dies at Lahore Zoo
10/16/04 www.dailytimes.com.pk

LAHORE: The Lahore Zoo has lost one of its four chimpanzees, an endangered species, as a 4-year old chimpanzee, named Tinku, died of illness, however the zoo management had not made his death public, wildlife department sources told Daily Times on Friday. The chimpanzee died because of zoo maltreatment and a lack of proper medical aid facilities.The zoo management had kept hush on Tinku’s death. Chimpanzees are priceless because they are an endangered African species. Chimpanzees and human beings have 70 percent genes in common and they are considered one of the most intelligent species of the animal kingdom. Sources added that the Lahore Zoo did not have a veterinary hospital like foreign zoos normally have. Moreover, it did not have x-ray facilities or stretchers to carry the animals in case of emergencies. Sources said that a Capuchin monkey had died more than a year before, because the concrete roof of her cell had collapsed causing the monkey multiple fractures.


Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo expansion
10/17/04 www.fresnobee.com

Supporters of the zoo are pushing a one-tenth-of-a-cent sales-tax initiative -- one penny for every $10 spent on taxable goods -- that they say is needed to save the zoo by making needed repairs, rebuilding exhibits such as the hippo enclosure and developing the zoo into a regional attraction. The countywide measure is boosted by a million-dollar campaign featuring 100,000 sad-eyed elephant campaign signs. But a group of opponents is mounting a strong effort to derail Measure Z. The most vocal opponents say Measure Z will lead to a zoo expansion that would harm the surrounding green space at Roeding Park. "Our basic position is not another acre lost to parking or to exhibit expansion," No on Z Chairman Kevin Hall says. The city-owned zoo cannot grow without future public hearings. But Hall argues Measure Z sets the stage for expansion.


Chaffee Zoo Accreditation
10/17/04 www.fresnobee.com

For decades, Fresno's Chaffee Zoo has carried a seal of approval from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. AZA accreditation, as it's called, signals that 214 zoos and aquariums meet association standards in areas such as animal care, safety, staffing and physical facilities. Today, the Chaffee Zoo's status is in jeopardy after years of a growing mismatch between its operating budget and repair list. The potential loss of accreditation is a theme that runs through Measure Z, the Nov. 2 countywide ballot measure that would increase the sales tax by one-tenth of a cent. AZA recently deferred the zoo's request for a second one-year extension, saying it would make a decision after the election. Advocates say without accreditation, which expires in March 2005, the zoo would lose animals and valuable cooperative programs with sister parks. But others say accreditation, while desirable, isn't required to operate a zoo. Kevin Hall, chairman of the opposition campaign, calls it a "gross exaggeration" to say that the zoo would fail without accreditation. He also believes a vibrant zoo that meets AZA standards can exist on the current acreage: "You just can't have every large animal you'd like to."


Voters determine fate of Florida Zoo
10/17/04 www.news-press.com

Advocates say the fate of a Southwest Florida landmark attraction hinges on a Nov. 2 referendum calling for Collier County to spend $40 million in taxes to buy the land that the Caribbean Gardens, The Zoo in Naples sits on. "It's become woven into the fabric of the community. It's part of who we are," said Ray Carroll, a fourth-generation Collier County resident who heads a political action committee (PAC) supporting the purchase plan. The attraction — with local roots going back to 1919 — is in jeopardy because the Fleischmann Family Estate, which owns the property that the attraction leases, is having a master plan drawn up with the goal of selling the land and surrounding acreage for development. The referendum proposes a special tax equalling $37.50 a year for the owner of a $250,000 to pay off bonds the county would issue to buy the property, including the 50-acre zoo and the surrounding 100 acres, which could be turned into a park. The bonds would be paid off in 10 years and the tax would then end.


Biologists Hunt Destructive Snakehead
10/18/04 news.yahoo.com

Biologists plan to use large nets and traps this week in Chicago's Burnham Harbor to search for the northern snakehead — a type of fish known for its voracious appetite and ability to wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems. Experts from Chicago's Field Museum and the Army Corps of Engineers were to begin searching for the unwanted snakehead Friday, but mechanical difficulties halted the survey's start. Scientists describe the northern snakehead as a "Frankenfish" for its ability to survive in oxygen-depleted water, move from pond to pond and eat other fish. The Frankenfish is a native of China, Korea and Russia and can grow to more than three feet in length. It has large teeth and an appetite for other fish, and biologists fear the northern snakehead, usually imported for food or aquariums, could destroy native fish.


White Rhinoceros Born At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
October 18, 2004 www.local6.com/news

TAMPA, Fla. -- An 85-pound white rhinoceros was born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the first such birth at the amusement park. The female rhino was born to mother, Mlelani, and father, Tombo, whom the park received from Kruger National Park in South Africa in 2001.


Court overturns effort to ban snowmobiles at Yellowstone
10/18/04 www.wastenews.com

A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down a rule that would have banned snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park. Snowmobile advocates and manufacturers opposed the rule, which was finalized in 2001 near the end of the Clinton administration. But environmentalists had backed the ban, saying the noise and emissions from the snowmobiles have a negative impact on wildlife and park visitors. The snowmobile ban called for the use of mass transit "snowcoaches" to transport park visitors. Judge Clarence Brimmer of the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyo., overturned the ban Oct. 14, saying the Park Service violated federal law when it rushed forward with the ban. The judge's ruling said the agency's action "was driven by political haste, poor judgment, and only pro forma compliance" with required procedures.


Investigating Puget Sound oil spill
10/18/04 www.katu.com

TACOMA - Cleanup crews are about done getting oil out of Puget Sound following a 1,000-gallon spill, and subpoenas have been issued in the search for the culprit, officials said. The Coast Guard has issued subpoenas to individuals, vessels and one facility concerning the heavy-grade fuel oil spill, which investigators believe came from a vessel at least 65 feet long, Petty Officer Adam Eggers said . Larry Altose, a state Ecology Department spokesman at the joint information center that includes his agency and the Coast Guard, said oil samples were sent to a Coast Guard laboratory in Connecticut and to the state agency's lab in Kitsap County. A $3,000 reward is being offered by Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers and the Port of Tacoma for information leading to identification of the source of the oil. "We're hoping whoever did this will 'fess up soon," Ellis said. "If they don't, we'll catch them." Cleanup costs have topped $750,000 since the spill was discovered early Thursday between Tacoma and the south end of Vashon Island, Altose said. Contaminated beaches extend from the Key Peninsula and Tacoma to parts of Vashon and Maury islands.


Division of Wildlife defends manager who killed 2 black bears in Redstone
October 18, 2004 www.gjsentinel.com

REDSTONE — Some Redstone citizens want the Colorado Division of Wildlife to do something about an area wildlife manager who shot and killed two so-called "problem" black bears this summer. The agency defends wildlife manager Justin Martens and its two-strikes policy and wants Redstone residents to do more to keep the hungry animals away from their homes, where the problems occurred. Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis declined a request to investigate the Sept. 3 shooting of a familiar three-legged bear residents called Tripod or Kylie. The bear had one injured leg.The bear was trapped, tranquilized and shot by Martens because, the agency said, it had habitually broken into homes and posed a threat to humans.


Hearing to focus on wolf's status
10/18/04 www.wmtw.com

ORONO (AP) - A proposal to remove gray wolves in the eastern United States from the nation's list of threatened and endangered species will be the focus of a public hearing Wednesday night in Orono. The two-hour hearing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will follow an hour-long information meeting. In July, wildlife officials released a proposal to lift protections for the gray wolf. They say wolves have made a comeback since they were first listed under the Endangered Species Act 30 years ago. Nine other hearings have been held in the Great Lakes states, but the session in Orono is the only one scheduled in the Northeast.


Vets to help control elephant populations
10/18/04 www.sundaytimes.co.za

The Veterinary Association of SA offered its assistance in controlling elephant populations in South Africa's national parks on Monday. Unabated growth of the elephant population in the parks posed a serious threat to the habitat, wildlife and tourist potential of the country's parks, Jozeph van Heerden, spokesman for the association, said in a statement. "It will eventually negatively affect the elephants themselves." The artificial control of elephant numbers in parks was a very sensitive issue, Norman Owen-Smith, large mammal ecologist at Wits University said. He said that due to public pressure there had been no culling in the Kruger National Park since 1995, but the elephant control policy was now up for review, and would be discussed at a public "elephant indaba" next week.


Monarch migration across Texas smallest in 14 years
10/18/04 www.chron.com

AUSTIN - The annual migration of monarch butterflies that crosses Texas en route to Central Mexico is the smallest in 14 years, experts say. Hundreds of millions of the large, colorful butterflies migrate to near Mexico City from the United States and Canada each fall. But herbicides, changing farming practices and weather are apparent culprits in reducing the numbers. "We've had very few reports outside that narrow band," Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Mike Quinn told the Austin American-Statesman. "The biggest single report was 5,000 in San Angelo. All along Interstate 35 from Dallas, we've primarily had reports of single ones." He said that, in addition to a hard freeze last February that killed many monarchs in Mexico, the insects have been harmed by biotechnology. They depend on nectar from wild milkweed plants, which are being killed by herbicides that farmers can apply more abundantly thanks to herbicide-resistant varieties of crops such as soybeans.


Yellowstone wildlife suffering vehicle effect
18 October 2004 www.greenconsumerguide.com

Motor accidents involving wildlife in Yellowstone National Park have reached unprecedented levels in 2004, prompting criticism of the authorities from a US environmental pressure group. Recently released statistics show that at least one large animal a day is killed by a vehicle collision. The most recent death of a female grizzly bear has equalled the Park’s Federally-governed mortality limit for the protected species for the first time since 1997, emphasising the far-reaching effects of the accidents. "Yellowstone National Park appears to be managed more by a Department of Motor Vehicles than the National Park Service," commented Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility’s (PEER’s) Jeff Ruch. "Moving cars through Yellowstone takes precedence over wildlife," he added. The group has highlighted the number of pro-vehicle measures that are set to be introduced to Yellowstone as an indicator of the National Park Service’s stance on the issue. Road widening and better service station facilities are among the forthcoming measures in the Park.


Release of masked bobwhite quail halted
10/18/04 www.azdailysun.com

TUCSON (AP) -- Officials at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge have stopped releasing endangered masked bobwhite quail. No more of the endangered birds will be released at the refuge until they determine why 90 percent have been dying within a year of being set free. "We're not giving up the fight for the masked bobwhite," refuge manager Mitch Ellis said. "We'll keep doing what we can for the habitat, and the birds will come along at some point." But captive-bred birds may not retain enough wild instincts, and the landscape they inhabit is still recovering from more than a century of grazing, erosion and human influence. "We're trying to get a handle on what's going on out in the wild without throwing all these birds out there," said Sally Gall, assistant refuge manager. "We're at a real crucial turning point. ... It's been many, many years of releases and you really can't say we're fully succeeding here, to be honest." Today, 100 to 200 of the quail survive in the wild.


Wild Animal Park Elephant Sent to Chicago Dies
10/19/04 www.msnbc.msn.com

CHICAGO - A 35-year-old African elephant that was moved to Chicago last year from San Diego has died, likely due to complications from tuberculosis, zoo officials said. Tatima died Saturday in her indoor habitat at the zoo's Regenstein African Journey exhibit at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Though the exact cause of her death has not yet been confirmed, preliminary findings indicate Tatima experienced complications from tuberculosis, the zoo said in a written statement Monday. "Losing an animal is the most difficult part of our job," said Lincoln Park Zoo general curator Robyn Barbiers. Tatima was one of three African elephants sent to Chicago in April 2003 from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, where officials were preparing for seven new elephants from Swaziland. How Tatima contracted TB is unclear. She could have been exposed to the disease up to 30 years ago. Tatima was regularly tested for TB, and the most recent test results in June were negative, the zoo said. She also showed no signs of the disease, such as lethargy and nasal discharge, despite being under veterinary care for a condition in her rear limb, the zoo said.


Judge clears way for Maryland bear hunt
Oct. 19, 2004 www.espn.com

UPPER MARLBORO — A Maryland judge denied a request from anti-hunters for a preliminary injunction to stop the state's new bear hunting season. The New York based Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and three individual plaintiffs had filed suit to stop the hunt. The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation, through its Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund, and the Maryland Sportsmen's Association had filed to intervene on behalf of sportsmen. Although the court has not ruled on its motion to intervene, the Foundation and Association have been working with the Maryland Attorney General's office on the case. Although the case has not been heard on its merits, the denial for a preliminary injunction is a severe setback to anti-hunting efforts to stop the bear hunt for this year. The judge's ruling also greatly decreases the anti's chances of winning the case. Anti-hunting groups could still appeal the ruling, but time is running out. The bear hunt is scheduled for October 25-30 and December 6-11. Biologists say that the hunt is needed to help reduce western Maryland's skyrocketing black bear population. There has been a recent increase in human-bear conflicts in the state.


Wildebeests escape FW Children’s Zoo
10/19/2004 www.wane.com

Five wildebeests escaped from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo late Tuesday morning. At the time, zookeepers were herding the animals from their outdoor grazing area to the barn they stay in during the winter. Apparently, the animals panicked and ran into a gate - forcing it open - then jumped a fence. Fort Wayne police, Allen County animal care and control, and zoo officials all went searching for the animals. About an hour after their disappearance, four were cornered on 4th street. Another animal was in a field on Westbrook and Young, with a broken front leg. By 1:30 p.m., officers had trapped and tranquilized all five animals and transported them back to the zoo. Two of the animals were euthanized later that afternoon, after zoo veterinarians ruled the injuries too severe to properly heal. The other three wildebeests appear to have recovered from the shock of the escape and the tranquilizer drugs. Zoo officials say the three will be closely monitored for the next few weeks, just to ensure no problems crop up as a result of the escape. Before the escape, the zoo had seven wildebeests, one male and six females. Now the zoo is left with one male and four females.


Interpol in monkey thieves hunt
10/19/04 news.bbc.co.uk

Interpol has been called in to help track down 16 rare monkeys snatched from a Devon sanctuary. The marmosets, squirrel monkeys and tamarins were taken in two raids at the Shaldon Wildlife Trust near Teignmouth. Police have warned that professional thieves are targeting the region and trust director Tracey Moore welcomed the new investigation. "It's been devastating for us. We are a tiny charity and we only have two members of staff. It has hit us extremely hard and I would ask anyone who has any information to contact the local police." In the latest raid, which took place on either 11 or 12 September, 11 rare monkeys were stolen. Intruders also struck on 1 August when five squirrel monkeys were taken.


Indy Zoo tiger dies of cancer
10/19/04 www.wishtv.com

Lena, the zoo's female Amur Siberian tiger, died on Monday. Lena was being treated for an especially aggressive form of mammary cancer, which was detected earlier this year. The zoo says that while her prognosis was never positive, she had done reasonably well through the summer and early fall. However, after her quality of life from complications of the disease began to decline, the decision was made to spare her from suffering. She was euthanized by the zoo’s veterinary staff Monday afternoon.


How will zoo replace a tiger?
10/20/2004 www.indystar.com

Spot dies, the family grieves and it's off to the pet store or the animal shelter for another dog. Doesn't work that way for rare Siberian tigers, one of which died Monday at the Indianapolis Zoo.. And if Indianapolis wants another one, they'll have to talk to Ron Tilson, tiger species coordinator for the American Zoo and Aquariums Association. The zoo could decide to request a male to breed to one of its females, or it could ask for a family to live here awhile to produce offspring. Either way, it's up to Tilson, whose job is to make sure the species survives -- thrives, if possible. Each August, he digs through a stack of requests from zoos wanting a tiger. Not everyone gets what they want. "It doesn't matter how big the zoo is or how much money they have," said Tilson, who works at the Minnesota Zoo. "I treat everyone the same. It's like going to the post office. You get in line."


Anthrax kills 200 hippos in Uganda park
10/20/04 www.afrol.com

The Uganda Wildlife Authority today announced that the mysterious deaths of around 200 hippos in the Queen Elizabeth National Park is due to anthrax. After weeks of investigations, involving several Ministries, it had been "confirmed that anthrax has been the cause of the deaths," the Authority said. According to Ugandan authorities, at least 200 hippos had by now died by the bacteria in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The press also reports of anthrax deaths in the nearby Katonga Wildlife Reserve. Here, other victims had included waterbucks and buffaloes. The Uganda Wildlife Authority today announced it had decided to "implement new measures to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors to the national park." These include the suspension of Launch Trips on the Kazinga Channel until further notice. "However, concerted efforts will be made to ensure that this popular tourist activity resumes as soon as possible," the agency said.


Habitat Losses Lower Bird Count
10/20/04 story.news.yahoo.com

The feathered creatures winging across North America have an obvious gift that land-bound humans lack, but their survival is threatened by earthly concerns. Almost 30 percent of bird populations on the continent are facing a "significant decline," The National Audubon Society said in its first "The State of the Birds" report Tuesday. The group studied data from 1966 to 2003 for 654 bird species that live in grasslands, shrublands, forests, waterways and urban settings. Most dire was the finding that 70 percent of the species in grasslands — such as the Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Short-eared owl and Greater Prairie-Chicken — are doing poorly. For those in shrublands — including the Northern Bobwhite, Painted Bunting and Florida Scrub-Jay — 36 percent of species are not doing well. Among forests, a quarter of bird species are declining; for urban areas, 23 percent; wetlands, 13 percent.


Wolves likely to move downstate into Lower Michigan
10/20/04 www.southbendtribune.com

LANSING -- With wolves reaching their highest populations in the Upper Peninsula in more than 50 years, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says Lower Michigan could be next. "It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when," Brian Roell, the DNR wolf coordinator, said. "There is certainly habitat in Lower Michigan where wolves can survive." It's believed wolves once lived in all 83 counties, but a state-paid bounty almost led to their extinction. In early 1973, the federal government announced that gray wolves were an endangered species. "It wasn't until 1991 that we had our first reproductive wolf year in almost 40 years," Roell said. "Today wolves are listed as threatened species and as of last winter we recorded a minimum population of 360 wolves, all in the Upper Peninsula."


Vilas Zoo's new 'pride' and joy
10/20/04 www.madison.com

Cigars and pink-and-blue balloons are in order as Vilas Zoo celebrates the arrival of five African lions - three males and two females - born Oct. 14 at Vilas Zoo. Big cat zookeeper Shane Elsinger ducks praise from zoo director Jim Hubing and says, "This is something - pardon the pun - the whole community can take pride in." In 2003, there were only four African lions born at American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) sites. There are only 68 pedigreed (genetic histories known) African lions in 214 AZA- accredited zoos to start with, and since so few were born last year, the AZA's Species Survival Plan staff gave a nod to all that had previously bred successfully. Most litters are two to three cubs - and usually there's a delay of at least two years between pregnancies


Elephant Debate Heats Up
October 20, 2004 allafrica.com

The great elephant debate here today took an emotive turn, when animal rights groups passionately pleaded for the elimination of culling as a possible option to manage the country's oversized elephant population. Michelle Pickover and Steve Smith of Justice for Animals argued that the killing of elephants could not be justified on any grounds, saying there was no scientific proof the Kruger National Park was exceeding its elephant carrying capacity. Their view was supported by Neil Greenwood of the International Federation for Animal Welfare (IFAW) who said the culling of elephants would undoubtedly be challenged in the courts of law. He also suggested that an international tourism boycott of South Africa could be mounted if such drastic measures were taken. SANParks placed a moratorium on elephant culling in 1995, resulting in a burgeoning elephant population that is placing enormous stress on the biodiversity of game reserves. There are roughly 12 000 elephants in the Kruger Park alone, that reproduce at about 1 000 a year. Each elephant eats up to 150kg of vegetation in a day.


Tigers with suspected bird flu to be killed at Thai zoo after 30 others die
10/20/04 www.cbc.ca

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Thai authorities will kill about 40 tigers believed to be sick with avian flu after 30 others died at a private zoo, officials said Wednesday. The decision was made after seven more tigers suspected to have the virus died at Sriracha Tiger Zoo in central Chonburi province, officials said. The deaths of 23 other tigers from bird flu were announced Tuesday. The tigers, which have all died since Oct. 14, were among more than 400 at the zoo. All are regularly fed raw chicken, which could have been infected with the bird flu virus. Zoo executives, health and wildlife officials met Wednesday and agreed to destroy the remaining sick tigers, said Dr. Thawat Suntrajarn, director-general of the Public Health Ministry's Department of Communicable Disease Control.


U.S. to poison prairie dogs
10/20/04 www.cnn.com

Wildlife workers have begun a program to poison thousands of prairie dogs in the grasslands of South Dakota to stop them from moving onto private ranch land parched by drought, a federal official said on Tuesday. But in an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by eight conservation organizations last month, the U.S. Forest Service will spread poison on fewer acres than originally planned and conduct an environmental study to figure out a long-term solution, according to Don Bright, forest supervisor for the Buffalo Gap National Grassland in southwestern South Dakota. "We need to be good neighbors and we do not want a landowner to go out of business," Bright said, referring to ranchers who said prairie dogs were eating the little grass left in the fifth year of drought. Parts of the area have been hard hit by drought and had less than two inches (5 cm) of rain in the past 15 months.


Officers check whether bird deaths linked to prairie dog poison
10/20/04 www.aberdeennews.com

RAPID CITY, S.D. - Federal law enforcement officers are investigating whether the deaths of three horned larks are linked to prairie dog poison that had been put down by a state contractor in an area where the birds were found. If the larks test positive for the prairie dog poison zinc phosphide, the investigation will continue, said Vance Jurgens, a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The birds are to be examined at a lab in Oregon, and Jurgens said he wasn't sure how long it would take to get the results. He said there was no evidence the birds were shot.


Exotic frog that invaded Florida found in Georgia
10/20/04 www.news-journalonline.com

Butler's capture -- a 4 1/2-inch Cuban tree frog -- in coastal Savannah has caused a nervous stir among wildlife biologists in Georgia and Florida. The exotic amphibian invaded the Florida Keys nearly 80 years ago and slowly spread throughout the state, devouring native frogs and insects in its path. But Butler's catch marks the first time the species has been documented in Georgia.

That's bad news if the Cuban frogs, known to hitchhike to new homes in shipments of potted plants, are breeding in Georgia, biologists say. Previously, the northern boundary for U.S. populations was believed to be Jacksonville, Fla. -- 120 miles south of Savannah. "Because Savannah's on the coast, where the temperature's more moderate, oh boy, that's where I get worried," said Steve Johnson, a University of Florida ecologist who tracks the spread of Cuban tree frogs. "They could be anywhere between there and Jacksonville."


Tentative Alaska Land Swap Raises Drilling Fears
Oct 20 2004 story.news.yahoo.com

U.S. officials on Wednesday announced a tentative land swap that they say would enlarge an Alaska wildlife refuge but that critics charge would open up the area to oil and gas development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it planned to trade land within the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, an 8.6 million-acre holding in eastern interior Alaska, for wetlands now held by Doyon Ltd., a Fairbanks-based corporation owned by Alaska Athabascan Indians. Doyon, which has drilling operations, seeks 110,000 acres of uplands with potential oil and gas riches and is willing to trade about 150,000 acres of low-lying wetlands for it, the Fish and Wildlife Service said. Including Doyon promises to give up claims to other land, the refuge would wind up with a net increase of 96,000 acres, agency officials said. The trade, which has been approved by Doyon and by the Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska headquarters, would protect important waterfowl habitat, they added. But critics call it a giveaway of public resources that would open the Yukon Flats area, and perhaps others, to oil and gas drilling. Peter Rafle, a Washington-based spokesman for The Wilderness Society, said that there was a risk that oil leaks and spills would flow downstream into the very wetlands officials say they are trying to protect.


ZSSD Wins National Award
October 20, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

The Zoological Society of San Diego has received the 2004 National Award for Museum Service, an honor awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C. The award, which comes with a $10,000 prize, is given for excellence in public service, an institute spokeswoman said. The zoological society, which operates the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, was one of three museum recipients. In the award announcement, the institute noted the zoo's "array of educational and therapeutic programs for the local community and conservation resources and Web-based information for researchers worldwide." The zoo said the $10,000 will be used by its education department. It is the first time the zoological society has won this award.


Wild dogs spark disease warning
21oct04 www.thecouriermail.news.com.au

HUMANS are facing a disease threat from the increasing number of wild dogs in Queensland's urban areas, a new report says. The State Government-commissioned report estimates the cost of dog attacks on livestock at about $27 million a year. The problem is particularly serious in semi-urban areas of Brisbane, Bribie Island, the Sunshine Coast and Townsville, it says. There have been reports from these areas of wild dogs and dingoes roaming in packs through streets. "These wild dogs have been the cause of complaints and incidents of threatening behaviour towards humans, family pets and medium-sized livestock on the fringe of settled areas," the report says. "In Townsville, the wild dogs caught in the suburbs as part of a control program were tested for parasites and in a study hydatids were discovered in 25 per cent of the dogs tested."


New fight to squash cane toads
21oct04 www.thecouriermail.news.com.au

CANE toad experts will gather for the first time today for crisis talks on stopping the spread of the deadly pests. A growing national problem, cane toads are close to crossing into Western Australia after spreading from Queensland into the Northern Territory and northern NSW. "It's probably the greatest biological threat Australia has seen," says Ian Morris, co-ordinator of Frogwatch Northern Australia. Scientists and government officials from around the country will come together in Darwin for two days to co-ordinate a nationwide offensive against the cane toad. With the noxious pests well advanced in the Top End, having left a trail of destruction through Kakadu National Park, the National Cane Toad Taskforce will meet to discuss ways of halting the spread. The toads have poisoned large numbers of crocodiles, snakes and any other animals that take them as food. The federal Government is considering a request from conservation group WWF Australia to list the northern quoll as an endangered species as a result of the cane toad invasion.


Traveling Pandas Mix Their Gene Pool
10/21/04 animal.discovery.com

China has come up with a new idea to save giant pandas from extinction: by organizing exchange visits for breeding purposes between different parts of the country, state media said Wednesday. The idea is to mix the gene pools a little better and prevent inbreeding, which causes infertility and an increased risk of infant mortality, the Xinhua news agency reported. Three pandas are being sent from a reserve in the southwestern province of Sichuan to Beijing Zoo, while thre others will be transported the other way, according to the agency. "The inbreeding among giant pandas in the same area easily leads to the species' degeneration," a Beijing zookeeper told Xinhua. China has tried everything from sex videos to Viagra to get its pandas to breed more vigorously.


Gorilla Babec back on exhibit at zoo after pacemaker, R&R
October 21, 2004 www.al.com/news/birminghamnews

Babec the gorilla is scheduled back on exhibit this morning, according to Birmingham Zoo officials. The 25-year-old gorilla has spent the last month recovering after heart surgery to install a pacemaker-like device Sept. 25. He had a checkup Tuesday and is showing great improvement, said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. E. Marie Rush. His heart function is back up to around 25 percent after being around 15 percent in July, she said. And his prognosis looks good: even though she previously thought he only had a year to live, now she says because of a combination of the device and medication, he could live longer. The cardiac resynchronization therapy device is believed to be the first ever used in a gorilla, although pacemakers have been used in other animals. It was donated by Guidant Corp., which also sent a surgeon. Babec had to be asleep for the checkup this week, but in the future, zoo workers will be able to wave a wand over Babec's chest to get a reading on his heart.


Thai Zoo Tiger Keepers Declared Safe from Bird Flu
22 October, 2004 www.reuters.co.uk

The bird flu toll among tigers at a Thai zoo has risen to 83, but the keepers who looked after them are free of the deadly disease which has killed 31 people in southeast Asia this year, officials said on Friday. The 57 keepers had been monitored closely for a week, two days longer than it takes for symptoms to appear, Charal Trinwuthingpong, a senior official on bird flu, told reporters. But 51 tigers had to be put down in addition to 32 which died of the H5N1 bird flu from eating infected raw chicken at the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, 80 km (50 miles) east of Bangkok. "We had to perform mercy killings on those tigers because they were in critical conditions," said Preecha Ratanaporn of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. "We are monitoring four or five more of these tigers. If they show no symptoms in a week, we can declare the zoo free of bird flu," he said.


Dogs kill 6 gazelles at KC Zoo
10/22/04 www.kansascity.com

A pack of stray dogs made its way into the Kansas City Zoo and killed six gazelles early Thursday morning, the zoo reported. Two of the four strays were shot to death by zoo firearms teams after keepers spotted the dogs in the gazelle holding area when they arrived for work about 8:30 a.m., said Randy Wisthoff, zoo director. A third dog was captured by zoo employees wielding a net, Wisthoff said. "It's an unfortunate thing," Wisthoff said. "We have done a walk of the entire zoo, and we still haven't been able to figure out where the dogs came in." Two years ago, the USDA told the zoo to correct problems with its perimeter fence after a pack of dogs killed three sheep in the Australian section. Two other sheep and an emu were injured. Wisthoff said the zoo's fences are checked during regular USDA inspections of the facility.


Zoo hopes rhino embryo efforts deliver results
22 October 2004 www.abc.net.au

Staff at Dubbo's Western Plains Zoo, in central western NSW, are working with a team from Germany in the hope of creating a female rhinoceros embryo. Local veterinarian Tim Portas says 70 per cent of rhinos born in captivity are male, but he says there is a real need to breed more female rhinos in order to breed up more of the endangered animals. Mr Portas says the zoo has been collecting rhino semen for some time now, but this is the first time he knows of anyone attempting to collect eggs from a live rhinoceros. "We will either freeze them at that stage or look at actually creating an embryo and freezing that embryo...the technology for implanting that embryo back into the cow has not been developed yet, but certainly if there's frozen embryos there then at some point in the future when those techniques are developed and that animal we're collecting from, her genes will be represented in the population," he said.


Three pandas on way to Beijing
2004-10-22 news.xinhuanet.com/english 

Three pandas departed the Wolong Panda Center in southwest China's Sichuan province on Thursday, bound for Beijing Zoo. Vice-president of Beijing Zoo says his staff will take good care of the three pandas, who are named Dadi, Gugu and Yinghua. At the same time, Beijing pandas Yingying, Yuanyuan and Tiantian have arrived in Wolong in good health, and they have adapted very well to their new surroundings. The exchange of pandas between Beijing and South China's Sichuan province are under a program to help maintain the diversity of giant panda population in China.


Leaving yard as-is benefits wildlife
10/22/04 www.qctimes.com

Tony Ianniello will not spend time this fall pruning his shrubs and trees, bagging leaves, cutting the grass short and generally making his property nice, neat and trim in preparation for winter. Instead, Ianniello wants to make sure his home is a refuge for the scores of birds that will be looking for food and warmth during the coldest time of year in Somers, N.Y. He will follow a number of practices to make a bird-friendly yard so that if snow blankets the region, his yard will be a riot of hopping, chirping color, just as it was last winter. "I had piles of wood on the ground," Ianniello says, "and there were robins and bluebirds, cardinals and other ground feeders out looking for insects." Ianniello, a 54-year-old electrical engineer, also maintained a heated bird bath.


Calif. Nixes Tiger Salamander Protections
Oct 22, 2004 story.news.yahoo.com

A split state wildlife commission rejected extra protections for the California tiger salamander for the second time Friday. Developers had warned that additional restrictions could hurt efforts to keep up with the state's rapid population growth in the Central Valley, Central Coast and San Francisco Bay area. The majority of commissioners agreed with opponents who said there is no evidence the black-and-yellow amphibian is likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future.


Australian zoo boss fined over cheetah escape
Oct 23 2004 www.nwemail.co.uk

DALTON zoo boss David Gill has been fined $10,000 after a cheetah escaped from its cage at his Australian park. Government officials in Queensland said there was a state of panic as Mr Gill was seen chasing the cheetah on a motorbike. Mr Gill pleaded guilty at Cairns Magistrates’ Court to charges relating to the escape of the cheetah and other charges of failing to report the death of a lemur and the escape of a lemur from its enclosure at Mareeba Animal Park. He maintains the cheetah was out of its approved area for 15 minutes during a controlled experiment on design fence. He denied he was chasing the animal but said he used a motorbike to run round and ahead of the cheetah to open a gate.


Scientists seek to save once-thriving hellbender
10/23/2004 www.stltoday.com

The hellbender salamander has survived dinosaurs, tectonic shifts and multiple ice ages - only to nearly disappear in the time it took for bell-bottom jeans to come back in style. "Back in the '70s, on a day like today, we'd have gotten 100 hellbenders," Solis said on this October day, "and today we got four." Solis, a graduate student at the University of Missouri at Rolla, is part of a biological SWAT team aimed at finding out what's hurting the hellbender. Armed with water sampling equipment, electronic tags, laboratory tests and plans for a captive breeding program, a coalition including state and federal agencies, universities and the St. Louis Zoo hopes to arrest the animal's slide into oblivion. Scientists believe that the fate of North America's largest salamander could hold clues to the health of the human race. Amphibians are sometimes called "canaries in the coal mine" because their highly permeable skin is sensitive to subtle changes in air and water quality. The hellbender makes a particularly interesting surrogate, because the 2-foot-long animal can live up to 50 years. Its native Ozark streams appear crystal clean to the naked eye, yet something is clearly wrong. "Why are they declining? I don't know," Solis said. "Hopefully they will stay around long enough so we can find out what's going on."


Animals in the raw gross but memorable
10/24/2004 www.southbendtribune.com

"Animal Grossology," the new exhibition at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, could easily have been a lot grosser. Sure, there's plastic excrement in the exhibit room, skunk scent for spritzing, and robot animals that use cutesy term like "barf" and "dookie" while talking about hairballs and digestive tracts. It's a 10-year-old's dream. But the exhibition is also built in a way adults can stomach, even after a hearty breakfast. And the younger visitors are learning something. It's a successor to "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body," an exhibition that drew large crowds to the Notebaert several years ago. The exhibition, which opened Oct. 8, will run through the end of the year at the Notebaert. A national tour is planned.


Siberian Tiger Dies At San Francisco Zoo
Oct. 24 2004 abclocal.go.com

A 343 pound Siberian tiger has died at the San Francisco Zoo. The twelve-year-old tiger, named Emily, died Thursday of cancer of the spleen. Her keeper said she seemed lethargic on Wednesday and rejected her meals of horse meat and rabbits. Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation, said Emily died at a relatively young age. Siberian tigers can live up to fifteen years in the wild and up to twenty-six years in captivity.


Ohio zoo may take Detroit's elephants
10/24/04 www.detnews.com

Ron Kagen, director of the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, sparked controversy in May when he announced the zoo would no longer keep the two female elephants and that he hoped to send them to a sanctuary. Animal rights advocates cheered the decision as a victory for animal welfare; others worried it could lead to the elimination of other zoo animals. Kagen concluded the animals suffered during Michigan's winters, when they must stand on concrete inside a building. The hard surface aggravates their feet, Kagen said. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which accredits zoos throughout the nation, consulted a national panel of elephant experts and recommended the animals go to the Columbus Zoo instead of a sanctuary. Columbus could offer the best long-term care available for the animals, the AZA concluded. Detroit Zoo officials have appealed that decision and are awaiting final word. Borin said he is unfamiliar with the Detroit Zoo's elephant facility and didn't want to compare it to the Columbus Zoo's. But he did say Columbus has invested more than $4 million in recent years in its exhibit, which includes a building that covers almost an acre, a 2-acre yard and two smaller yards.


Duck-Billed Platypus Chromosomes
October 24, 2004 AOP Advanced Online Publication www.nature.com/nature

Scientists report that the sex of the Duck-billed platypus is determined in a unique way. In most mammals, sex is decided by the X and Y chromosomes. Two Xs and you are female; XY and you’re a male. In birds the system is similar: ZW for a female and ZZ for a male. But in the platypus XXXXXXXXXX makes an animal female and XYXYXYXY makes a male. Rather than a single pair of chromosomes, platypuses have a set of 10 chromosomes determining their sex. Frank Grutzner and Jenny Graves of Australian National University in Canberra and their colleagues examined platypus cells under a microscope after staining their chromosomes with fluorescent markers. They also found that the sex chromosomes in the animals’ sperm are precisely distributed to give XXXXX-bearing sperm and YYYYY-bearing sperm. When an XXXXX sperm fertilizes an egg, which will always be XXXXX, a female platypus is produced. YYYYY sperm produce males.www.nature.com


Chester Zoo under attack after birth of elephant
Oct 25 2004 iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk

CHESTER Zoo defended itself against criticism from an animal welfare organisation last night which says it has breached RSPCA guidelines over the birth of an elephant. The 180kg male calf, who has not yet been named, was born at the zoo two weeks ago and is the second this year. However, the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) has hit out at the zoo for continuing to breed the animals two years after the RSPCA called for the practice to end. Craig Redmond, campaigns officer for the Captive Animals' Protection Society, an organisation which has campaigned for the protection of animals in zoos, circuses, and the entertainment industry since 1957, said: "Elephants do not belong in zoos, and while having a baby elephant may do wonders for a zoo's publicity it does nothing for conservation. International conservation organisations would prefer to see better protection of elephant habitats and controls on poaching instead of captive breeding."


Foul play suspected in elephant death
Oct 25 2004 www.deccanherald.com

Mysore zoo authorities smell a larger racket in the death of animals, including seven-year-old elephant Komala, which was to be airlifted to the Yerewan zoo in Armenia, DHNS reports from Mysore. The authorities suspect foul play in Komala’s death as preliminary investigations indicate that the death could have been due to poisoning. "More precisely, the death is similar to the death of elephants Ganesha and Roopa and a male lion-tailed macaque," according to zoo Director Manoj Kumar. Soon after the death of two elephants and the macaque, the zoo management took action to prevent such tragedies. At the same time the police began inquiry into the killings and even interrogated several employees. Six zoo employees had been suspended.


Platypus lives up to weird billing
October 25, 2004 www.theaustralian.news.com.au

The duck-billed and venomous natives have a chromosomal make-up that no other mammal is known to possess. Platypuses have 10 sex chromosomes – five pairs of X chromosomes in females, and five X and five Y chromosomes in males. Humans, like most mammals, have only two sex chromosomes. Professor Jenny Graves and Dr Frank Gruetzner, from the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University, always knew the platypus chromosome system was "really weird". But until recently they had no tools to find out why the animals possessed so many chromosomes and what function they served. Professor Graves and Dr Gruetzner supplied researchers at Cambridge University with platypus cells so they could sort out the chromosomes according to size. They made DNA from isolated chromosomes, tagged it with fluorescent dye and hybridised the new cells back to the chromosomes of males and females. Following these painted cells showed that male platypuses create two kinds of sperm – one carrying five X chromosomes to create a female platypus, and one carrying X and five Y chromosomes to create a male. The new research puts platypuses closer on the sex chromosome scale to spiders, termites and birds than their fellow mammals. Echidnas, the only other member of the monotreme club, have a similar "weird" chromosome make-up.


Platypus: Lots of Sex Chromosomes
Oct. 25, 2004 dsc.discovery.com/news

An animal said to be the "world's weirdest" — the platypus — has just become a bit more unusual with a report that claims the mammal retains a distinctly birdlike sex chromosome. The finding, published in the current journal Nature, not only helps to explain why the platypus retains characteristics common to both mammals and birds, but it also suggests that the sex chromosomes for these two diverse groups might have an evolutionary link. Humans and most mammals have just one set of sex chromosomes for meiosis. Females possess a set of X chromosomes, and males possess one X and one Y chromosome. The overall system is described as XX/XY, with the resulting sex of the mating determined by a gene on the male Y chromosome. In birds, the male and female chromosomal roles somewhat are reversed, as female birds carry two different chromosomes, called Z and W. The overall bird system is called ZZ/ZW. The platypus, in contrast, has an unprecedented ten sex chromosomes. The set for females consists of X1X1X2X2X3X3X4X4X5X5, with the numbers indicating slight variations. The male platypus set is X1Y1X2Y2X3Y3X4Y4X5Y5. Notably, the researchers discovered that X5 resembles the bird Z chromosome in terms of appearance and the signaling of associated genes. "The platypus sex chromosome system is the first example that shows links to both the bird ZZ/ZW and the mammalian XX/XY system," Grützner told Discovery News.


Wildlife group sues over policies
Oct 25 2004 www.billingsgazette.com

A national wildlife organization has sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture claiming that policy changes are taking conservation out of the Conservation Reserve Program, even allowing haying and grazing in CRP lands while game birds are nesting. The National Wildlife Federation and six of its state affiliates - Indiana, South Dakota, Washington, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kansas - filed the federal lawsuit in Seattle on Oct. 20. Montana and Wyoming were singled out for comment in the lawsuit. "So far, Idaho, Montana, New York, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming are permitting grazing and haying on CRP lands when birds are still on the nest and are just beginning brood rearing," said Tom France, director of the federation's Northern Rockies Natural Resource Center in Missoula.


Bears on ballots: Should baiting be allowed?
Oct. 25, 2004 msnbc.msn.com

PORTLAND, Maine - Moose and lobster are the signature symbols of Maine, but the black bear has lumbered to the fore in a referendum campaign that is attracting big money and stirring strong emotions. Voters in Maine, which has the largest bear population east of the Mississippi, will weigh in Nov. 2 on a ballot measure that would outlaw bear hunting with bait, dogs or traps. Activists pushing for the ban have painted a picture of out-of-state trophy hunters luring bears with bait buckets filled with stale jelly doughnuts and then shooting them like fish in a barrel. Opponents have warned of a proliferating bear population poised to fan out across suburban neighborhoods, tearing down bird feeders and disrupting backyard barbecues in search of food. Voters will also decide a bear-baiting ban in Alaska, where a similarly intense and high-priced campaign is being waged ahead of the election. Baiting is a widely used hunting practice in the two states, and accounts for a large percentage of the hundreds of black bears that are killed, skinned and eaten there each year.


TBS gives Zoo Atlanta largest donation in zoo history
10/26/04 atlanta.bizjournals.com

Turner Broadcasting System Inc. has donated $5 million to Zoo Atlanta as part of a five-year partnership to enhance the public offerings in the zoo's Conservation Action Resource Center. The gift is the largest in Zoo Atlanta's 118-year history. "This partnership with Zoo Atlanta to create an educational and fun new attraction for visitors of all ages reflects Turner Broadcasting's commitment to Atlanta and further demonstrates the power of the business community to make meaningful contributions here at home," said Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System.


Riverbanks has first koala baby
10/26/04 www.thestate.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. - It's about the size of a jellybean, but it is the biggest thing to happen at Riverbanks Zoo in quite some time. It is a baby koala. "I don't think I can adequately describe how excited everyone here is about this," executive director Satch Krantz said. And the excitement is not just here. Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Keith Benson, spied the healthy hairless baby in the pouch of Lottie, one of two female koalas at Riverbanks, on Sept. 17. Before he could get back to his office, e-mails were going out around the world with the news. Riverbanks' two females, Lottie and Killarney, are gifts from South Carolina's sister-state of Queensland in Australia. Japan's Hirakawa Zoo donated the new baby's father, Marai.


Battersea Zoo to close for radical makeover
10/26/2004 icsouthlondon.icnetwork.co.uk

THE dramatic transformation of Battersea Park Zoo, saved from closure by the South London Press, starts next week. Its gates will close to visitors on Monday so work can begin on its refurbishment. The zoo was saved in September last year after we launched a campaign forcing Wandsworth council into a dramatic U-turn. It was then taken over by the Chestnut Centre in July. The company already has two successful wildlife parks in Derbyshire and Hampshire. Edward Heap, who runs the company with his family, said the work will make the design of the zoo better for children and the animals. He said: "It has always been a children's zoo but some of the design features aren't very friendly. Some of the barriers are too high for children to see over. We also want to make it more interesting for the animals."


Environmentalists sue over changes in wildlife protections
10/26/2004 seattlepi.nwsource.com

WASHINGTON — Environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block the Bush administration's decision to set aside Reagan-era rules aimed at protecting wildlife in national forests. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks to reinstate a 1982 rule that required the Forest Service to ensure "viable populations" of wildlife species that are not endangered, such as elk, Appala-chian brook trout and river otters. The administration set aside the rule last month, saying officials now can rely on the "best available science" — a less specific standard — to guide their decisions. Environmentalists had used the wildlife rules, developed under the 1976 National Forest Management Act, to block logging projects in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. The rules change, announced Sept. 29, took effect immediately without a public comment period — a fact environmentalists cited in their legal challenge.


Chimpanzee "Workshop" Discovered in Congo
10/26/04 www.newswise.com

Scientists have discovered that a remote rainforest in Central Africa, saved from logging by a collaboration among the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, a timber company and the Republic of Congo, is home to a population of innovative, tool-making chimpanzees that "fish" for termite dinners. According to a study in the November issue of the journal The American Naturalist, chimps living in the 100-square-mile "Goualougo Triangle" have given researchers a comprehensive snapshot of more complex tool-use among non-human large primates. The study, funded in large part by WCS and National Geographic, relied on remote video cameras recording chimps using heavy sticks to punch holes in termite mounds, then using a lighter stick known as a "fishing tool" to extract termites. For underground termite mounds a different stick-tool was used to perforate the nest surface, before scooping up the termites.


Death of seal being investigated
October 26, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Federal authorities are investigating the death of a juvenile harbor seal that was found alive but bleeding from the neck at Children's Pool beach in La Jolla during the weekend. SeaWorld officials picked up the wounded seal Sunday evening and administered medical treatment, but it died yesterday. A necropsy performed yesterday concluded that the animal died from being cut by monofilament fishing line, according to Michelle Zetwo, a special agent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There was no bruising, no broken bones and no signs of cigarette burns," she said. Witnesses initially reported that the seal was abused by humans, but a SeaWorld veterinarian who examined the year-old seal found no evidence to support that claim. Zetwo said she is still investigating reports from witnesses who said they saw the animals being touched and stampeded into the water. "There is evidence of harassment, but not of abuse," she said.


Zoo manager 'traded in monkeys'
10/27/04 news.bbc.co.uk

A zoo manager was sacked after selling monkeys so he could create a menagerie of exotic animals, a tribunal heard. Stephen Riley, 48, barricaded himself in his flat with a wallaby and turtles after he was dismissed from Tropiquaria in Somerset in January. He won a claim for unfair dismissal on Wednesday because the zoo had not fully investigated before sacking him. But the tribunal also said he should not get any compensation because he had been guilty of gross misconduct. The zoo's managing director Stephen Smith told the employment tribunal in Exeter that staff became suspicious about the number of animals Mr Riley had been bringing to the zoo. They also noticed that the number of marmosets had dropped, some of which Mr Riley had sold to North Cornwall Aviaries. It was also claimed he tried to sell a tapir that was owned by the zoo.


Zoo director disciplined
10/27/2004 www.thesunchronicle.com

ATTLEBORO -- Zoo Director Shira Marcure has been placed on three weeks' paid leave for failing to inform superiors about a decision to evacuate animals in the rain forest exhibit when a furnace broke down. Mayor Kevin Dumas said he took the action last Friday. While it was the failure to contact superiors that prompted the leave, the action came a month after Marcure was placed on `` probation'' for other `` management issues'' at the zoo, Dumas said. The management problems do not involve the quality of care that zoo animals receive, he said. Management problems include trouble prioritizing and acting on work projects and purchases at the six-acre facility that includes a number of buildings, Dumas said.


2004 Wildlife Conservation Report Card
10/27/2004 www.prnewswire.com

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund released its 2004 Wildlife Conservation Report Card today. The report measures U.S. Senators’ and Representatives’ commitment to wildlife conservation and habitat preservation. "The Action Fund’s report card is the only resource with complete information on the wildlife conservation voting records of Members of Congress. Voters throughout the country can easily access the report card online and quickly learn how their elected officials voted on the most important issues affecting threatened wildlife and their habitat, " Action Fund President Rodger Schlickeisen stated. A complete list of votes scored in the House and Senate can be found on line at capwiz.com/defenders/issues/votes/. Scores from the first and second sessions are combined for an end-of-Congress percentage. A copy of the complete scorecard can be found on line at www.defendersactionfund.org


Drunken Elephants Wreak Havoc in India
Oct. 27, 2004 animal.discovery.com/news

Wild, drunken elephants trampled three people to death and injured two others in a tribal village in India's northeastern state of Assam, wildlife officials said Wednesday. A herd of 12 elephants entered the village of Marongi Tuesday and ran amok after taking long swills of rice beer brewing in casks outside the homes of the tribal people. The attack was the latest in a wave of incidents over the last two weeks in which wild elephants have wreaked havoc in parts of eastern Assam after drinking rice beer usually brewed at this time of the year.


Tiny Human Ancestor Found in Asia
October 27, 2004 www.nationalgeographic.com

Scientists have found skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old child of today. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia 18,000 years ago. Australian and Indonesian researchers discovered bones of the miniature humans in a cave on Flores, an island east of Bali and midway between Asia and Australia. Scientists have determined that the first skeleton they found belongs to a species of human completely new to science, and named Homo floresiensis, after the island on which it was found. The original skeleton, a female, stood at just 1 meter (3.3 feet) tall, weighed about 25 kilograms (55 pounds), and was around 30 years old at the time of her death 18,000 years ago. The species inhabited Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago, which means it would have lived at the same time as modern humans, scientists say.


Electric Fence Kills Elephant and Its Pal
Oct. 28, 2004 animal.discovery.com/news

One elephant was killed Monday by the fence erected by locals to keep the elephants from destroying rice crops, a forest officer told AFP. The second was electrocuted Tuesday as it returned with a herd of over 30 to the spot and dug up the body of the first elephant buried by forest staff. "They were mourning the death of their beloved mate. It's a very sad thing but it shows the strong tie of friendship among those wild animals," said divisional forest officer Abdul Latif Mia.The two elephants were killed in Sherpur district near the border with India's Meghalaya state.


Common household fragrances may be harming aquatic wildlife, study finds
10/28/04 www.eurekalert.org

Those fragrant soaps and shampoos we casually rinse down the drain may be causing long-term damage to aquatic wildlife downstream by interfering with the animals' natural ability to eliminate toxins from their system, according to a new Stanford University study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Synthetic musks can be easily produced and are very cheap," said Stanford postdoctoral fellow Till Luckenbach, lead author of the study. "They get into the environment through sewers and drains, but wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to handle them." In their study, Luckenbach and Stanford biologist David Epel tested six synthetic musk compounds widely used by industry. Their goal was to determine if these artificial fragrances affected the animals' "xenobiotic defense system"--a biochemical process that allows cells to get rid of poisons and other foreign substances. "What we found is that musks are harmful in the sense that they compromise the defense system and let other chemicals in that could be more harmful," Epel said. "The amazing thing is that, even if you wash the chemical fragrance away, there's a long-term effect up to 48 hours after removal."


Global climate change threatens reindeer, caribou
10/28/04 www.eurekalert.org

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Global climate change could threaten the most important terrestrial subsistence resource in the circumpolar north – reindeer and caribou. To assess the effects of climate change on reindeer and caribou – Rangifer is the scientific name - and the communities that depend on them, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) and Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service are hosting a workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 31 and November 1, to launch the CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment network (CARMA). "The goal of the CARMA network is to bring the right people together to see how we can collectively monitor the relationship between humans and Rangifer" said Gary Kofinas, CARMA organizer and professor of policy and management at IAB.


Headless Seal Found In La Jolla
October 28, 2004 www.nbcsandiego.com

SAN DIEGO -- A gruesome discovery was made early on Thursday morning in La Jolla when somebody noticed a headless seal on some rocks. According to San Diego police, the dead harbor seal was discovered behind some condominiums at 220 South Coast Boulevard. Responding officers called in officials from Marine Fisheries, a federal agency, to pick up the seal and determine if anybody had a hand in its death. SDPD spokesman Dave Cohen told NBC 7/39 that if it was determined that if somebody intentionally cut off the seal's head, the department would then re-enter the investigation.


3 California Condors released
October 28, 2004 www.latimes.com

Three California condors will be set free Thursday to soar above Pinnacles National Monument, joining the ranks of several others released into the wild as part of a 16-year national program that aims to save North America's largest birds. "The goal is to establish an additional 10 to 20 birds at Pinnacles within the next couple of years," said Curt Mykut, spokesman for the Ventana Wilderness Society, the Carmel-based nonprofit group that is helping coordinate the release.


SD Zoo Polar Bear gets a pumpkin
October 28, 2004 abcnews.go.com/US

A polar bear at the San Diego Zoo got into the holiday spirit on Thursday by playing with a large plastic pumpkin. Kalluk, an enthusiastic 735-pound sub-adult male, amused himself for several hours by tackling, hugging and pouncing on the large plastic jack-o-latern. Kalluk is the largest of four bears at the zoo's Polar Bear Plunge. The two acre exhibit features 130,000 gallons of water cooled to 58 degrees Fahrenheit complete with an underwater viewing room. The bears also have a sandbox where they can dig or take a nap.


Critical Habitat on Guam and Rota
October 28, 2004 news.fws.gov

A final rule designating critical habitat for three endangered Mariana Island species: the Mariana fruit bat, Mariana crow, and Guam Micronesian kingfisher, was released today by USFWS in accordance with a lawsuit settlement. The final rule excludes almost all lands on Guam originally proposed for critical habitat status for these three species, but maintains most of the lands proposed as critical habitat for the Mariana crow on the island of Rota. A total of 376 acres, all within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s Ritidian unit of Guam National Wildlife Refuge, are being designated as critical habitat for the three species on the island of Guam. Approximately 24,800 acres in two critical habitat units were originally proposed on Guam. On Rota, a total of 6,033 acres (out of 6,084 acres originally proposed) are being designated as critical habitat on private and government land. The Rota critical habitat is designated only for the Mariana crow since the fruit bat is not currently a listed species in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Guam Micronesian kingfisher is native only to the island of Guam.


Headless Seal Heats Up Children's Pool Debate -- Again
10/29/04 www.msnbc.msn.com

The discovery was the second time in four days that a dead seal was found near the Children's Pool. The deaths have outraged seal activists, who are still fuming that the city allowed humans to mingle with the seals at the pool. Early in the day, one seal activist said the seal found Thursday had been skinned and beheaded, and demanded an independent forensic examination. She has since backed off that claim, but activists said there have been at least five cases of seal abuse since September, which is around the same time that the city allowed humans to mingle with the seals at Children's Pool. On Monday, a baby harbor seal died after it was found with a gill net line wrapped around its neck. A naturalist who is also a founding member of the Save the Seals Foundation was one of the first to examine the seal found on Thursday. She told NBC 7/39 that the seal had been floating in the water for some time and that its fur had decomposed. She also said the seal may have been the victim of a shark attack. The naturalist's assessment came as no surprise to people who don’t believe the claims of seal abuse.


Worldwide Interest in Zoo Degree
10/29/04 news.scotsman.com

A new Masters degree being run jointly by the University of Plymouth and Paignton Zoo Environmental Park which gives students hands-on experience at a zoo has attracted interest from around the world. Graduates from the USA, Japan, Germany and France have joined British students enrolled for the university’s first one-year MSc in zoo conservation. Paignton Zoo head of science Dr Amy Plowman said: "There is no other course like it in this country. The students are not simply learning the theory – they are getting direct experience at the zoo." The programme covers areas of scientific study such as ecology, conservation genetics, animal nutrition, behaviour and welfare.


Zoo won't blame hurt keeper in lion attack
October 29, 2004 www.suntimes.com

Lincoln Park Zoo officials Thursday said mechanical and procedural factors have been ruled out in last month's lion mauling of a female keeper but stopped short of publicly blaming the woman herself, calling it a confidential personnel matter. The keeper, Nancy DeFiesta, 60, is still recuperating from the September incident, which left the 15-year zoo employee with lacerations on her neck and head. Zoo officials say DeFiesta apparently thought the outdoor yard of the lion exhibit was empty when she entered on the morning of Sept. 9 to do daily maintenance. The zoo's three lions were in the yard. As DeFiesta was being attacked, she radioed for help. Rescuers found her curled up and bleeding in the exhibit's dry moat and used fire extinguishers to force the lions away.


China launches award for wildlife protection
2004-10-29 www.chinadaily.com.cn/english

The China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF) and US Wild Aid jointly launched a special award in Beijing Thursday to promote wildlife protection in China. The China Wildlife Conservation Award is the first in China initiated by a non-governmental organ on wildlife protection, said Qu Geping, president of the board of directors of CEPF, at Thursday's ceremony. Though China has made great progress in the protection of wildlife, the illegal hunting and trading of wild animals continues, said Qu. He said the award will help promote the country's awareness of environmental protection.


Wildlife refuge to undergo reforestation project
October 29, 2004 www.brownsvilleherald.com

One thousand volunteers are needed on Saturday to plant 14,000 trees on 50 acres of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s La Casita Tract. This weekend promises perfect weather conditions to ensure the trees will take root and grow, said James Matz, spokesman for the Valley Proud Environmental Council. The trees will be native species suited for local conditions. "People have been very, very responsive to this," Matz said. "It’s one of those things now that’s been going on long enough that people know that it will be happening about this time of year. Volunteers come out as organizations or individuals or families," Matz said. Late October is an ideal time to plant trees, Matz said. "It looks like Saturday’s going to be pretty good weather," he said. "A cool front is expected Monday and we’ll probably get some showers out of it. … We’ve had some rain, there’s some upper ground water moisture. Temperatures are starting to cool off."


Tech Upgrade Helps Protect Wildlife
Oct. 29, 2004 informationweek.com

Enforcement officers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have a dangerous job. They patrol 800,000 acres of forests and streams throughout the state, checking to make sure hunters, fishermen, and construction workers are complying with the laws designed to protect the habitats of hundreds of species of fish and wildlife. A wireless technology upgrade is helping them do their job more quickly, effectively, and safely than in the past. Today, all but four of the officers have wireless data communications systems in their cars; those four work in areas that don't get strong enough signals. For the rest, the technology has changed the way they do much of their job. Many are writing and filing reports from the field, eliminating long trips back to the office.


Thailand detains Japanese man for attempting to smuggle wildlife
October 29, 2004 www.japantoday.com

BANGKOK — A Japanese man was arrested Wednesday night at Bangkok airport for trying to smuggle several kinds of wildlife, including turtles, salamanders, white frogs and protected plants, out of Thailand, officials said Thursday. Yusuke Tomie, 39, a cloth merchant from Osaka, was arrested at Bangkok's Don Muang International Airport when he was about to leave for Japan. Police said his suitcases were packed with boxes filled with 45 turtles, nine salamanders, four white frogs and 14 protected plant species.


Saving Green Sea Tutles and Hawksbills
October 29, 2004 news.inq7.net/regions

SAN MARIANO, Isabela, Philippines -- Environment officials and residents here have formed a group to save the dwindling population of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) at the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP). William Savella, Palanan community environment and natural resources officer and concurrent NSMNP protected area superintendent, said the reactivated Bantay Kalikasan and Bantay Dagat volunteers are doing their best in watching turtle sanctuaries in Isabela's coastal towns. "The indigenous peoples in the area are very receptive now to the idea. They were enlightened after knowing that these endangered marine animals would disappear if they would not help us," Savella said. He said volunteers have been teaming up with Department of Environment and Natural Resources employees in watching four nesting sites of marine turtles in Barangay Bicobian in Divilacan town, Dimatatno in Dinapigue, Diddadungan in Palanan and Didian in San Mariano.


Philadelphia Zoo’s new lion exhibit
October 29, 2004 www.philly.com

Zoo officials and supporters broke ground yesterday for a $20 million exhibit that will have more than a dozen large felines, including all the "big five" - lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and cougars. Come spring of 2006, when the cats return - most have been shipped to other zoos for safekeeping - they'll be roaming outdoor areas that resemble the savanna, a Central American rain forest, the Siberian tundra, or Pennsylvania's woodlands, home to the cougar. "Big Cat Falls" - a nod to the waterfall that designers have included - will be a "state-of-the-art, naturalistic home" for the animals, said zoo president Alexander L. Hoskins. The exhibit will also include a theater area with videos of cats in their natural habitats and a conservation "base camp." Here visitors will learn about efforts to save large cats in the wild and find out more about how they can help - including making on-the-spot donations to help fund, say, land for a jaguar preserve or a radio collar to track a lion. The zoo itself has been increasing its involvement in conservation in the wild. Coinciding with the new cat exhibit, the zoo is donating $250,000 and sending staff members to a lion project in Kenya and a jaguar project in Mexico.


Lion Camp Opens at Wild Animal Park
October 29, 2004 www.nctimes.com

Visitors to the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido will be able to meet six lions face-to-face in a new $5 million enclosure that opens today at the park. The year-old lions were moved into the 2-acre "Lion Camp: The Sylvia G. Straton Lion Savanna" this week. Park officials say the new enclosure ---- designed with savanna grasses, deadwood logs and indoor "bedrooms" for the lions to escape the rain ---- is arranged to encourage the lions to come close to park visitors. So close, in fact, that on Friday the cubs' breath fogged the laminated, tempered glass panel that separated them from their human observers. "The reason we built this exhibit," Randy Rieches, the park's curator of mammals said during a media tour of the enclosure, "was that we wanted to get guests much closer to such a large predator with the hopes that they will better understand the problems these animals face in the wild." At one time, Rieches said, more than 1 million lions roamed the African plains but the population has dwindled to 30,000 due in large part to human encroachment and diseases such as tuberculosis and distemper. Rieches predicted that African lions will be on the endangered or threatened species list in the next five years.


Amphibian Archive
October 29, 2004 www.sciencemag.org/netwatch

The first worldwide survey of amphibian populations speculates that one-third of known species are threatened or have gone extinct (Science, 15 October p 391) The Global Amphibian Assessment sponsored by the IUCN has created a comprehensive database on these creatures – 5743 kinds of frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians. Each species’ entry describes its habitat,and ecology and lists current and potential threats as well as conservation measures. There are range maps for every species. The database is available at www.globalamphibians.org


New Wild Animal Park Lion Exhibit
October 30, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Young lions prowled along the windowed wall of their new home, all honey-colored eyes and unbelievably large paws. They were so close, their breath sometimes fogged the glass. It's no trouble seeing the lions now. After years of hearing visitors say they want more than a glimpse of the big cats, the Wild Animal Park has built an up-close-and-personal exhibit that puts guests just inches away from the tawny felines. The exhibit opens today and is the first of several projects the park near Escondido has planned to get visitors closer to the critters. Next will be a new tram system that travels into the animal rangelands, instead of around them, as the park's aging Wgasa Bush Line Railway does.


Arctic in Peril
October 30, 2004 www.nytimes.com

A comprehensive four-year study of warming in the Arctic shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost and shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere. The study, commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territory, including the United States, says the changes are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activity but also to offer some benefits, like longer growing seasons. The report is due to be released on Nov. 9, and was conducted by nearly 300 scientists, as well as elders from the native communities in the region, after representatives of the eight nations met in October 2000 in Barrow, Alaska, amid a growing sense of urgency about the effects of global warming on the Arctic.


Thailand Zoo Re-opens
October 30, 2004 www.mcot.org

The Sri Racha Tiger Zoo in Thailand's eastern province of Chonburi is to be re-opened soon after health authorities found no evidence of the bird flu virus in its remaining tigers. The zoo’s remaining 60 tigers were all tested negative. The zoo authorities plan to test the tigers again for the avian flu virus before re-opening the zoo to the public. The chairman of Sri Racha Tiger Zoo Co., Ltd. Maitri Temsiripong, told TNA that the zoo would not be opened until they receive official permission from the government committee on bird flu. The zoo owners are also working with the provincial authorities on launching a fresh campaign to promote tourism to the province to help counter the damage the zoo’s dead tigers may have done. Dozens of tigers died recently from bird flu after contracting the virus from raw chickens they were fed.


Fundraiser benefits gibbons
October 31, 2004 www.dailynews.com

SAUGUS - Less than a dozen miles from the shopping malls and busy streets of Santa Clarita, 32 gibbons - small, endangered apes native to Asia - swing from branches and ropes inside roomy enclosures. This is the largest group of the agile primates in the western hemisphere, and the director of the Gibbon Conservation Center has been guarded about publicizing the center in the nearly 30 years since he founded it. But an upcoming fund-raiser will offer the public a chance to see the magnificent creatures up close. Alan Mootnick, an Encino native founded the center in 1977. He said an estimated 2,000 gibbons remain in the wild. The center is the only facility in the world devoted exclusively to gibbons. The apes are housed in family enclosures until they reach adulthood, when they are removed from their family of origin and placed with a mate - much like the behavior of gibbons in the wild. After years of welcoming students, scientists and others interested in touring the facility, the center could use some upgrading. Ph.D. candidates and volunteers who work at the center are joining Mootnick in planning to erect guard rails around the enclosures for the safety of the gibbons and visitors. Mootnick has been independently studying primates since his childhood. Breakfast with the Gibbons, a fund-raiser to help get the guard-rail project going, will be held on Saturday at the center. Admission is $30 for adults, $15 for children 3 to 12 years old, and free to children under 3. Guests will enjoy a continental-style buffet breakfast, a guided tour and a lecture about gibbons. There will be a silent auction, as well. Auction winners may pay for items with cash or checks only.


Herpes Killed Elephant
November 1, 2004 www.chron.com By SALATHEIA BRYANT
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Kimba, the beloved 13-year-old Houston Zoo elephant who died on Labor Day, succumbed, as suspected, to elephant herpes virus, laboratory tests confirmed. Despite attempts to save her, the Asian elephant died 25 hours after exhibiting signs of a diminished appetite, swelling around the temple area and depression — all symptoms of the disease, which quickly attacks blood vessels after invading the body. Since the elephant's death, zoo officials have been regularly testing the blood of its four remaining elephants, including 2-month-old Bella. Zoo staff also check the tongues of each elephant daily for any sign of bruising, which is a classic symptom of the virus. So far, all the tests have been negative. "It was herpes and only herpes. It's going to be an ongoing concern," said zoo senior veterinarian Joe Flanagan. "Frankly, it's a little terrifying. We don't know where it came from or if we'll ever get rid of it." Kimba's sister, Singgah, died Jan. 1, 2000, of the virus, as did three other elephants born at the zoo but shipped to other facilities.


China’s Illegal Ivory Trade
November 1, 2004 english.epochtimes.com/news

Chinese officials have been unable to curb its flourishing illegal ivory trade, despite signing the International Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora in 1980, which bans killing elephants for trade purposes. Since 1990, China has held the dubious title of the world’s largest importer of illegal ivory. Their inability to stop importation coincides with a flawed record in domestic wildlife protection. Since 1994, ivory smuggling and its appearance on the illicit market has increased due to greater demand. Since 1997, China has investigated 191 cases of illicit ivory trade. There were 1.3 million African elephants in the 1980s, but the number had dropped to fewer than 500,000 by 2004. The wild African elephant population has especially seen a decline, with less than 50,000 left.


Hellbenders fight extinction
November 1, 2004 www.kansascity.com

The cold, oxygenated water of the White River's North Fork holds some of the last remaining members of an amphibian family that has roamed this planet for 150 million years. The hellbender salamander has survived dinosaurs, tectonic shifts and multiple ice ages, but it is now disappearing. A biological SWAT team from the University of Missouri at Rolla, is trying to find out what is hurting the hellbender. Armed with water sampling equipment, electronic tags, laboratory tests and plans for a captive breeding program, a coalition including state and federal agencies, universities and the St. Louis Zoo hopes to arrest the animal's slide into oblivion. Scientists believe the fate of North America's largest salamander could hold clues to the health of the human race. Amphibians are sometimes called "canaries in the coal mine" because their highly permeable skin is sensitive to subtle changes in air and water quality. The hellbender makes a particularly interesting surrogate, because the two-foot-long animal can live up to 50 years. Its native Ozark streams appear crystal clean to the naked eye, yet something is clearly wrong.


Microsoft Announces Favorite Semifinalists
11/01/04 www.dailygame.net/news/archives

Microsoft Game Studios today announced the five finalists in its "America's Favorite Zoo" contest. The finalists were selected from a pool of 15 semifinalists by zoo lovers who cast their vote at the official Zoo Tycoon 2 Web site. The five semifinalists are: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Toledo Zoo and Tulsa Zoo. The winner will be selected by zoo enthusiasts via online voting through November 10. The winner, which will be announced during the week of Nov. 15 to coincide with the launch of Zoo Tycoon 2, will receive a $25,000 grant to fund its animal and habitat care.


15 Rare Tortoises Stolen From Moody Gardens
November 1, 2004 www.click2houston.com/news

POSTED: 7:47 am CST November 1, 2004

GALVESTON, Texas -- Fifteen endangered tortoises are missing from a storage facility along the Texas Gulf coast. Security officers at Moody Gardens assisted police investigating the theft Monday. Law officers believe the 13 red-footed and two Indian star tortoises were taken Friday night. Moody Gardens spokeswoman Jerri Hamachek said the animals were to become part of exhibits at the facility. Officials said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the tortoises about a year ago at Bush Intercontinental Airport. They were on a plane bound for Japan from Venezuela. The tortoises are valued at between $200 and $700, Hamachek told the Houston Chronicle in Monday's online edition.


E-Coli from NC Petting Zoo
November 1, 2004 newsobserver.com/news

At least seven people, most of them children, have been infected by E. coli in an outbreak that may point to the State Fair's petting zoo. State health officials alerted local physicians, health departments and hospitals this weekend to be on the lookout for more cases. Doctors already are awaiting test results in several other suspected cases. Health officials are also urging parents to keep sick children at home. Nearly all of the confirmed cases are children, state officials said. Of the confirmed cases, two are in Wake County, two are in Lee County, one is in Wilson County and two are in Mecklenburg County.These animals -- goats, lambs, pigs and a few zebras and antelope -- travel the fair circuit up and down the East Coast, State Fair manager Wesley Wyatt said. Symptoms show up between two and eight days after exposure; most fall ill within three to four days. The State Fair ended Oct. 24.


West Nile Update
November 2, 2004 www.westnile.ca.gov

As of November 2, 2004, a total of 795 West Nile virus infections have been reported from 23 California counties. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, West Nile virus has been detected in 529 horses in 31 counties in 2004. Of these West Nile virus infected horses, 226 have been euthanized or died. A total of 3,149 WNV positive dead birds have been detected in California in 2004. West Nile virus infected dead birds have been found in every county in California.


Rare Wolves at Exmore Zoo
November 2, 2004 www.northdevongazette.co.uk

"Maned wolves live in South America - northern Argentina, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, and south eastern Peru," explained Danny Reynolds, curator of the Exmore Zoo. "Home to them is the savannah and tropical scrub forest. Unfortunately their natural habitat is decreasing all the time. Only this century, has it been recognized that approximately only 2,500 individuals remain. "Only eight zoos in the UK participate in a breeding programme, and held a total of 18 individuals in 2003 out of a world captive population of 176 animals. "It is a great honour for us to be accepted as a holder of this species by the International Stud Book Keeper - Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. The zoo, near Bratton Fleming, has been given two litter brothers, called Fuego and Inca. At two years of age they will be split, one brother going to a European zoo, and a mate will arrive for the other. "The Maned wolf has the head and colouring of a wolf, the large ears of an African hunting dog and the body of a hyena," said Mr Reynolds. He added, "The Maned Wolf is naturally nocturnal in the wild, very shy and secretive. We have designed a purpose-built enclosure which shows the wolves at rest from behind glass panels. Fuego and Inca have settled in really well, and provide an unusual sight for visitors.


Endangered Species List Growing
November 2, 2004 news.yahoo.com

The world's list of endangered species is growing at an alarming and unprecedented rate as governments pay less and less attention to green issues, a major global environmental body said on Tuesday. The World Conservation Union, which also goes under the acronym IUCN, said it would release a "red list" of more than 12,000 threatened species at the World Conservation Congress in Thailand, which starts on November 17. "The scale and pace of extinction is higher now than ever before. Research indicates that the rate could even be up to 1,000 times higher than we would naturally expect," IUCN Director General Achim Steiner told a news conference. With up to 30 per cent of the world's species facing extinction in the next 50 years, the IUCN said it would also release a damning report on what it says is shrinking government investment in conservation.


Stolen Turtles Returned to Moody Gardens
November 2, 2004 www.click2houston.com/news www.chron.com

GALVESTON — A Moody Gardens electrician has been charged with stealing 15 tortoises from the popular tourist attraction, police said. William L. Johnson Jr., 60, of Santa Fe, was arrested this morning and charged with theft, according to the Galveston County District Attorney's office. Johnson remained in the county jail late today in lieu of a $30,000 bond. Johnson became a suspect after a man who purchased 13 red-footed tortoises and two Indian star tortoises from Johnson learned through the news media that they were stolen, officials said. Moody Gardens officials said the man who returned the tortoises unharmed asked to remain anonymous. The man said Johnson told him Moody Gardens officials had given him and other employees the reptiles, according to a statement released by Moody Gardens. The tortoises disappeared from a locked Moody Gardens facility between 8:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The red-footed tortoises are about 3 inches in diameter, and the Indian star tortoises are about 5 inches in diameter.

 
New IUCN Red List
November 2, 2004 english.aljazeera.net

The World Conservation Union, which goes under the acronym IUCN, said it would release a "red list" of more than 12,000 threatened species at the World Conservation Congress in Thailand, which starts on 17 November. "The scale and pace of extinction is higher now than ever before. Research indicates that the rate could even be up to 1000 times higher than we would naturally expect," IUCN Director-General Achim Steiner told a news conference. With up to 30% of the world's species facing extinction in the next 50 years, the IUCN said it would also release a damning report on what it says is shrinking government investment in conservation. The IUCN now has 80 countries who are members, Iran being the most recent. Up to 3500 environmentalists, scientists, businessmen and government officials are expected to attend the week-long conference, which is being billed as the largest conservation meeting ever.


Trexler Zoo becomes NonProfit Society
November 2, 2004 www.mcall.com/news

A private company took control of the Trexler Game Preserve zoo Monday, launching an experiment designed to prevent the closure of the money-losing attraction while taming annual taxpayer subsidies that reached $800,000 in each of the last two years. The Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, area volunteers who organized to save the 30-year-old county zoo, assumed management duties under a 15-year lease. The county will pay the society $500,000 over the next year, and $1.4 million more in declining annual increments over the following four years, hoping to wean the zoo completely from taxpayer support at the end of five years. Proponents of nonprofit operation contend that private companies can run zoos more efficiently free from government ''red tape,'' and that corporations and foundations tend to donate more money to nonprofits. Opponents of the Lehigh lease plan have countered that private operation will insulate zoo management from public scrutiny, and that, should the society fail, the zoo, and its financial losses, will be dumped back in county taxpayers' laps.

 
New Taronga Zoo Exhibit
November 2, 2004 www.smh.com.au/news/Business

Sydney Aquarium's planned zoo will not suffer from competing with its counterpart at Taronga Park, the company claims. The $45 million Australia's Animal World - a two-storey native wildlife exhibition - will be built next to the aquarium at Darling Harbour and is due to open in July 2006. Sydney Aquarium is also spending another $5 million on a new attraction at Sydney Tower after paying $9 million in July for the company that runs the building's observation deck. SkyWalk - to open next April - will allow visitors to walk outside the top of the tower, 270 metres above road level. A bank facility will fund both attractions and yesterday's annual general meeting cautiously approved raising Sydney Aquarium's debt to $70 million. But a number of shareholders raised concerns about what the directors admitted would be a high level of debt for the company, which had a net profit for 2003-04 of $6.6 million, up 9 per cent on the previous year. Mr Fulford said both new businesses would begin generating cash as soon as they opened. Chairman Bill Wright told the meeting the zoos targeted different types of tourists.


Chimpanzees with toolkits
November 2, 2004 www.nytimes.com

Chimpanzees have now been videotaped with tool kits. Not just sticks, but three different kinds of sticks for different purposes, some modified (by chewing on the end, for instance) to make them more efficient. Some other species, like the great apes and crows, use rudimentary tools, but just as a few adjectives are not the same as a sonnet, one stick does not a tool kit make. Tool use is a defining characteristic of the human lineage and in the current issue of The American Naturalist ( V. 164, 567-581) three researchers have published "New Insights Into Chimpanzees, Tools and Termites From the Congo Basin." Crickette Sanz of Washington University in St. Louis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany; Dave Morgan of Cambridge University and the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Steve Gulick of Wildland Security used remote cameras set at termite mounds to get hours of videotape of chimps catching and eating termites. Video recordings are at www.journals.uchicago.edu


Zoo Birds Killed
November 3, 2004 www.wandtv.com

ILLINOIS – Three birds at Decatur’s Scovill Zoo were killed over the weekend. Police and zoo officials are looking for the attackers. Investigators believe the Scovill Zoo was broken into and three birds killed between midnight and 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Two Chilean Flamingoes, and one American White Pelican were killed. The pelican is a protected species. Zoo officials say it appears the birds were decapitated. They were located right around the train area the first animals visitors would see. They'd been at the zoo for more than 20 years. Those involved with the killings face felony charges. There will be a reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.


Voters support Columbus Zoo
November 3, 2004 www.columbusdispatch.com

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will soon launch the most-aggressive construction program in its 77-year history after Franklin County voters yesterday approved an $18.6 million-a-year replacement property-tax levy. "This is a tremendous show of support from the voters to continue development of the zoo,'' Executive Director Jerry Borin said. "It will enable us to create exciting new experiences for visitors . . . and continue to work with threatened and endangered animals.'' Zoo officials expect to spend $125 million in the next 10 years to build an array of exhibits and other facilities. The total is almost double the amount the zoo spent on construction projects in the past decade.


Voters support Naples Zoo
November 3, 2004 www.news-press.com

Collier County voters have approved spending $40 million in special taxes over 10 years to save the landmark Caribbean Gardens, The Zoo in Naples. Voters approved the referendum calling for the special tax by 72.8 percent to 27.2 percent. Members of the political action committee who advocated buying the historic zoo and garden celebrated the victory at a party at the Naples Hilton & Towers. The PAC received $76,239.50 in donations in the effort to promote the special tax to buy the zoo. The Southwest Florida attraction — with roots going back to 1919 — is in jeopardy because the Fleischmann Family Estate, which owns the property the zoo sits on, is having a master plan drawn up with the goal of selling the acreage for development. The referendum approved by voters calls for a special tax equaling $37.50 a year for the owner of a $250,000 house to pay off bonds the county would issue to buy the property. That includes the 52-acre zoo and the 100 acres that surrounds the attraction, which could be turned into a park. The bonds would be paid off in 10 years and the tax would end. The zoo is being transformed from a for-profit business to a nonprofit organization to give the public more of a stake in the operation, said David Tetzlaff, zoo director.


National Zoo Euthanizes Cheetah
November 3, 2004 www.nbc4.com/news

National Zoo staff euthanized a 12-year-old male cheetah Tuesday morning, after several weeks of treating it for complications associated with diabetes. Zoo veterinarians and animal-care staff performed several diagnostic procedures, including an MRI at IAMS Pet Imaging Center a few weeks ago, in an effort to rule out other reasons for its declining health. Any other causes of its illness will not be known until after all pathology tests are complete. The cheetah was born in December 1991 at the Jackson Zoological Park in Jackson, Miss., and arrived at the National Zoo in June 1992. It was hand-reared in Jackson, and its calm temperament made it a strong public ambassador for cheetahs at the zoo. Six cheetahs remain at the zoo.


Perth Zoo Upgrades Elephant Exhibit
November 3, 2004 www.news.com.au/common

A major upgrade of the 18-year-old enclosure, which houses three female elephants and one male, was identified as a priority in the Perth Zoo's blueprint for the next 20 years, said WA environment minister, Judy Edwards. The $4.7 million expansion project "is one of the biggest capital works projects at Perth Zoo in the past 10 years," Ms Edwards said today. The zoo's master plan recommended other capital works, such as a new entrance to the African Savannah exhibit and a continuation of the research and conservation programs run in conjunction with WA's Department of Conservation. "The zoo will continue to release native animals back into the wild and breed endangered and threatened species . . . this role is vital as Perth Zoo aims to be one of the world's best small zoos," Ms Edwards said.


New Honolulu Zoo Society President
November 3, 2004 the.honoluluadvertiser.com

Gary Slovin was named president of the Honolulu Zoo Society board of directors, effective July 1, 2004. He is a partner with the law firm of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel and is the former executive director of the state Ethics Commission. He also served as Honolulu's corporation counsel when Eileen Anderson was mayor. Slovin concentrates his practice in the area of government relations, representing clients before government agencies, the Legislature and the county councils.


Racine Giraffe Necropsy Results
November 3, 2004 www.journaltimes.com

An 18-month-old male giraffe died at the Racine Zoo in September from spinal cord bruising, the zoo staff said Monday. Chas, a Masai giraffe, was euthanized on Sept. 1 for an unknown sickness. The bruising was discovered during a necropsy, equivalent to a human autopsy, commissioned by the Racine Zoo and performed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Research Animal Resources Center. The bruising occurred approximate 5-10 days prior to Chas' death. "The cause of the bruising is unknown, but resulted in neurological deficits and loss of motor control," said Jay Christie, president and chief executive officer of the Racine Zoo. Chas was found unable to stand on the morning of Sept. 1. The decision to euthanize was made after consultation with Kevin Nelson, the zoo's veterinarian, other veterinarians with giraffe expertise, and zoo staff. The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the giraffe facilities and giraffe management plan in September and found them in compliance with all USDA regulations, the zoo staff said. In addition, the giraffe management plan and facility meets all safety requirements outlined by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.


Twin Marmosets named Bush & Kerry
November 3, 2004 www.latimes.com/news

DES MOINES, Iowa — Two baby marmosets, who made their debut at the Blank Park Zoo on Monday, have been named George and John -- for President George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry. "We wanted to find a unique way to commemorate the times the presidential candidates monkeyed around in Iowa," quipped Terry Rich, chief executive officer at the zoo. The tiny monkeys, born eight weeks ago, are twins -- not that uncommon in marmosets, Rich said. They were kept under close watch until deemed healthy enough to put on exhibit -- which just happened to fall on the eve of Tuesday's election. Native to Brazil, marmosets eat fruit, leaves, seeds and insects. They live to be 15 to 20 years old, and have sent pads to mark their territory. "They stay in lifelong family groups," he said. "They're very family oriented." The Weid marmoset is identified by the white tufts on its ears, Rich said. When fully grown, each of the marmosets will about a foot long -- and their tails will be as long as their bodies.


Voters support Colorado Zoo & Culture
November 3, 2004 www.coloradodaily.com

Voters passed Metro Area Referendum 4B Tuesday night, which authorizes the 12-year extension of a 0.1 percent sales tax to support the metropolitan area's Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, by a greater than two-to-one margin "It's pretty overwhelming support," stated Pat Steadman, Field Coordinator for the 4B advocacy group Citizens for Arts to Zoo, "We worked really hard to make sure voters were familiar with ... what we do for our communities - making museums, art and culture accessible for all citizens." The revenue raised by the SCFD tax, which amounts to one penny on a $10 sale, has raised more than $400 million to fund various scientific, cultural and arts organizations in the area, including the Boulder Philharmonic, the Dairy Center for the Arts, the Denver Zoo and the Colorado Chautauqua Association. The District, which includes all of Boulder, Broomfield, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Denver counties, and part of Adams and Douglas counties, was created in 1988 and was extended for the first time in 1994.


Voters support Chaffee Zoo
November 3, 2004 www.fresnobee.com

Voters approved Measure Z by 73% — well beyond the two-thirds majority the measure needed to pass. Measure Z will raise the county's sales tax one-tenth-of-a-cent — one penny for every $10 spent on taxable goods — to support the struggling Chaffee Zoo. The tax increase will go into effect in April and is expected to raise $95 million before sunsetting in 10 years. Supporters argued the zoo needs the money to repair crumbling exhibits and restore the attraction wall-to-wall restoration. The plight of the zoo came into focus last year after long-time director Ralph Waterhouse retired abruptly and told the community it should support the zoo or dismantle it. Then, a ten year old girl, Angel Arellano wrote a letter to The Bee on Thanksgiving Day, enclosed a dollar and urged others to donate to the zoo. Hundreds responded, giving more than $570,000. Campaign Chairman David McDonald said he joined the campaign, in part, because he was inspired by Angel. The campaign shattered local fund-raising records, generating more than $1.2 million.


Permian-Triassic extinction Study
November 3, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

The biggest mass extinction of all time happened 251 million years ago, at the Permian-Triassic boundary. Virtually all of life was wiped out, but the pattern of how life was killed off on land has been mysterious until now. A team from Bristol University and Saratov University, Russia, have now documented the event in Russia after looking at 675 specimens of amphibians and reptiles from 289 areas spanning 13 successive geological time zones in the South Urals basin. The study will be reported in Nature tomorrow [Thursday, November 4]. There was a profound loss of animal groups, and simplification of ecosystems, with the loss of small fish eaters and insect eaters, medium and large herbivores and large carnivores. Records indicate a loss of 50 per cent of animal groups or more, in both sea and on land, with a loss of 80 to 96 per cent of species. Plant life also changed, from high rates of turnover through the Late Permian period to greater stability at low diversity through the Early Triassic period. Even after 15 million years of ecosystem rebuilding, some groups were still absent--small fish eaters, small insect eaters, large herbivores and top carnivores. The end-Permian mass extinction is now thought to have been caused by gigantic volcanic eruptions, which triggered a runaway greenhouse effect and nearly put an end to life on earth.


First Giraffes in Vietnam
November 3, 2004 www.vnagency.com.vn

HCM City (VNA) - A couple of giraffes, the first in Viet Nam so far, have been imported from Thailand to be raised at HCM City's Sai Gon zoo and botanical park. The 17-month-old giraffes belong to Giraffa camelopardalis species originated from Africa. Weighing 150 kilos each, they are both 3-m high and are now being looked after according to regional quarantine regulations.


Man bitten by Lions
November 3, 2004 www.iol.co.za

Taipei - A man leaped into a lions' den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity. "Jesus will save you!" the 46-year-old man identifed only by his surname Chen shouted at two African lions lounging under a tree a few metres away. "Come bite me!" he said with both hands raised, television footage showed. One of the lions, a large male with a shaggy mane, bit the man before zoo workers drove it off with water hoses and tranquillizer guns. Chen then walked away from the scene with bite marks on his arms and legs. Newspapers said that the lions had been fed earlier in the day, otherwise the man might have been more seriously hurt... or worse. "He took this dangerous action today because he imagined he heard voices," psychiatrist Teng Hui-wen told reporters, adding that his case was still being investigated - Reuters, AP


Food Shortages in Antarctic
November 3, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Antarctic whales, seals and penguins could be threatened by food shortages in the Southern Ocean. Numbers of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like crustacean at the heart of the food chain, are declining. The most likely explanation is a dramatic decline in sea-ice. The results are published this week in the journal Nature. Sea-ice is a vital feeding ground for the huge number of krill in the Southern Ocean. The new research shows that krill numbers have dropped by about 80% since the 1970's. Less sea-ice during the winter is likely to be the cause and may explain declines seen in several species of penguins. Lead author Dr Angus Atkinson from British Antarctic Survey, says: "This is the first time that we have understood the full scale of this decline. Krill feed on the algae found under the surface of the sea-ice, which acts as a kind of 'nursery'. The Antarctic Peninsula, a key breeding ground for the krill, has warmed by 2.5̊C in the last 50 years, with a striking decrease in sea-ice. We don't fully understand how the loss of sea-ice here is connected to the warming, but we believe it could be behind the decline in krill."


San Diego Zoo Marketing
November 3, 2004 adweek.com/aw/regional/west

The San Diego Zoo has awarded the creative portion of its account to independent M&C Saatchi following a review that was launched this summer and conducted by Select Resources International, of Santa Monica. Media duties were assigned to independent Round 2 communications, Los Angeles, which pitched the business alongside M&C. The Zoological Society previously split media duties with independent MeadsDurket, the zoo's longtime creative incumbent in San Diego. "The whole process was handled extremely professionally, giving us access to the client in order to understand their thinking," said Huw Griffith, chief executive officer of M&C Saatchi. "It was invaluable. We got a better sense of who they are and what they were after. We developed some brutally simple thinking for the zoo and their Wild Animal Park." The zoo intends to include greater use of television in its marketing mix. Independents davidandgoliath, Los Angeles, and Cramer-Krasselt, Phoenix, were finalists in the review. Though the zoo spent $2 million advertising in 2003, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, sources estimated the upcoming budget could reach as high as $8 million.


Award for Minnesota Zoo Tiger Program
November 4, 2004 www.mnsun.com

The Minnesota Zoo was awarded the International Conservation Award for the "Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program," presented by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) for recognition of outstanding dedication to international conservation issues and development of natural resources. The Minnesota Zoo chose the plight of the Sumatran tiger because the subspecies is approaching extinction. Although thousands once prowled its forests, fewer than 400 of these tigers remain today. "Progressive zoos around the world are committed to supporting the conservation of wildlife and wild places. Simply displaying and breeding animals, while important components of zoos’ conservation toolkit, is not in itself enough. Zoos are qualified and obligated to assist in the protection and enhancement of wildlife populations in situ," said Lee Ehmke, Minnesota Zoo director and CEO. The Minnesota Zoo’s director of conservation, Ron Tilson, initiated the program in 1995 and served as director until two years ago. He now serves as the senior technical adviser to the program. The mission of the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP) is to assist the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry (PHKA) to secure a future for Sumatran tigers.


USDA Brucellosis Regulations
November 4, 2004 www.avis.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is amending its brucellosis regulations. This amendment will add the fluorescence polarization assay (FPA) to the list of approved brucellosis tests in cattle, bison and swine. APHIS has determined that a rapid diagnostic detection test that uses fluorescence polarization technology will be highly useful in detecting the presence of Brucella antibodies. A technician performs this test by first measuring a sample of animal serum for natural fluorescence using a specialized polarization instrument. Next the technician adds an antigen extracted from Brucella abortus cells that have been coupled with a fluorescent identifier. The sample is measured again to determine a change in polarization that would indicate the presence of the disease. Test results are conclusive, producing either a negative or positive result. This test provides a cost-effective, accurate, quick and simple-to-perform means of determining if the disease is present in cattle, bison and swine. The FPA test can be used as a screening or confirmatory test and as a stand-alone test if no other tests are available for confirmatory results. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.


Veterinary Biologics Public Meeting
November 4, 2004 www.aphis.usda.gov

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2004-The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) will hold a public meeting to discuss regulatory and policy issues related to the manufacture, distribution and use of veterinary biological products. The meeting will be held from Wednesday, April 6 through Friday, April 8, 2005, in the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Meeting times are as follows: Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon. APHIS welcomes suggestions for additional meeting topics from the interested public. Notice of these meetings is published in the Nov. 4 Federal Register. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html. Since 1989, APHIS has held 12 public meetings in Ames on veterinary biologics. Interested individuals are invited to use this meeting to present their ideas and suggestions concerning the licensing, manufacturing, testing, distribution and regulation of products for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of animal diseases.


147 Tigers killed because of bird flu
November 4, 2004 news.xinhuanet.com/english

BANGKOK, Nov. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- The Thai government killed 147 tigers during last month's operation to wipe out the bird flu virus, the Thai News Agency reported Thursday. According to the report, the tigers were killed at the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo where several tigers died from bird flu after being fed raw chicken. The government also killed more than 1.5 million chickens in the operation, the report said. The destroyed fowls were mainly from farms and villages in the country's central and lower northern regions, where most of the bird flu cases both in poultry and human have been found since thevirus re-emerged in July, the news agency quoted a report of the National Center Fighting Bird Flu as saying. The report cited the lack of awareness and protective equipment among rural villagers and insufficient numbers of monitoring officials as main obstacles to effectively preventing the spread of the disease. The center suggested that the government pay more attention to enhancing villagers' awareness of the disease and speed up compensation payment to farmers whose fowls had been culled to stop spread of the disease.


Mysore Zoo removes Security Officer
November 4, 2004 www.starofmysore.com

In the back drop of the serial death of animals in Mysore Zoo, the Security Officer of the Zoo has been terminated from service on charges of dereliction of duty. Though the investigations into the death of elephants in the past 2 months have been proceeding rather slowly with the Police not being able to achieve any major break through, the first head rolled with the removal of Security Officer Govindaraju. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Zoo governing council, held in the last week of October, where the matters concerning the security failure were found to be the cause for the elephant deaths. Govindaraju was appointed as the security officer on contract on a monthly salary of Rs. 10,000 by the Zoo Authority itself. The meeting decided not to renew his contract which expired on Oct. 31. Speaking to Star of Mysore, the Zoo Executive Director Mr. Manoj Kumar clarified that the security lapse was one of the reason for the serial death of animals in the Zoo and said a new competent officer will be appointed soon in his place. With the removal of Govindaraju, the authorities have tightened the security in the Zoo, fearing any reprisal from the persons, who are loyal to him and are still working in the Zoo, towards any animals as a revenge.


2 rare plant species in Las Vegas
November 4, 2004 www.reviewjournal.com

Much like the endangered desert tortoise 15 years ago, the surprise discovery of two rare plant species threatens to foil developers' plans to erect thousands of homes on a vast swath of vacant land in the northern Las Vegas Valley. The U.S. government is moving to preserve about 8,000 acres of land that had been slated for public auction after botanists surveying the area found Las Vegas bearpoppy, which is protected under state law as critically endangered, as well as a newly identified variety of Las Vegas buckwheat, which the government is considering protecting under the Endangered Species Act. The highly unexpected development surfaced at Wednesday's Las Vegas City Council meeting, at which council members were told the detection of the plants probably will delay the Bureau of Land Management auction of federal lands scheduled for Feb. 2. "They dropped the nuclear bomb on us," former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, now a private attorney retained by the council, said of the BLM. "It's an effective moratorium (on development). ... This does have significant implications for the city."


Rare Whale found in Australia
November 4, 2004 www.enn.com

The body of a whale resembling a giant dolphin that washed up on an eastern Australian beach has intrigued local scientists, who agreed Wednesday that it is rare but are not sure just how rare. Scientists initially thought the 6-meter (20-foot) female may be a Longman's beaked whale — a species so rare that only one other complete adult specimen has been found in the world. But after seeing photographs of the animal, experts at the Australian Museum in Sydney said it could be a southern bottle-nosed whale — still an unusual find but not as rare as a Longman's. DNA tests are expected to pin down the exact species. If it proves to be a Longman's, the find is likely to interest marine experts throughout the world. The only other known complete adult specimen of the species was a 6.4-meter (21-foot) female that died shortly after swimming aground on Japan's southern coast in 2002. Longman's beaked whales are thought to live in the Pacific and Indian Oceans but are rarely seen, and scientists do not know how many there are or how long they live.


Inbreeding Threat to Endangered Species
November 4, 2004 www.newscientist.com

Rampant inbreeding can put panthers, cheetahs and other endangered species at increased risk from parasites and infections, a new study suggests. Inbreeding is known to increase the prevalence of certain genetic diseases and is also suspected of weakening the immune system, rendering animals more susceptible to other kinds of illness. The endangered Florida panther, for example, of which fewer than 100 individuals remain, is unusually prone to infections. And in the 1980s, an outbreak of feline infectious peritonitis killed more than half of an extremely inbred cheetah population, even though it rarely causes illness in most cats. But one of the few previous experimental tests of these ideas seemed to contradict the hypothesis that inbred animals find it hard to fight off disease. In 1997, when biologist Lori Stevens and colleagues at the University of Vermont looked at beetles infected with a tapeworm, they found that inbred beetles were just as good at resisting the parasite as genetically diverse ones.


First Wild Condor Chick Fledges
November 4, 2004 www.nctimes.com

A California condor chick born in the wild has become the first such bird to take flight in 22 years, wildlife officials said Thursday. Hatched in April near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, the condor took a flight of 30 feet in mid-October and soared 150 feet two weeks later. The last wild condor chick to fly in the wild was in 1982. "The wild condor chick taking its first flight is a big step to getting back to a truly wild population," said Steve Thompson, regional operations manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The chick's parents were bred in captivity by biologists trying to save the California condor from extinction. Two other wild chicks were hatched in California this year. One died and the other is healing after it broke its wing in a fall from a nest. It may be released next spring. The California condor population now includes 111 birds living in the wild in California, Arizona and Mexico's Baja California, and 135 in captivity at the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Oregon Zoo and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.


Smuggled Pangolins Seized in Vietnam
November 5, 2004 news.yahoo.com

HANOI, (AFP) - Police in Vietnam have seized 120 protected pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, which were to be transported to China to be sold for their rumoured aphrodisiac meat, local officials said. The pangolins, weighing a total 470 kilograms, were seized in central Ha Tinh province bordering Laos, an official of the provincial ranger's department said. "The pangolins originally came from Myanmar. They were then brought to Vietnam from Laos and would be later be exported to China." Pangolins are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora but there is a blanket ban on all trade in them. Pangolin meat is much sought after in Vietnam and China for its supposedly aphrodisiac qualities. Vietnam has a poor conservation record, with endangered species, favoured for their status value, regularly appearing on dining tables in the political capital.


Bush Victory Clears Regulatory Landscape
November 5, 2004 www.newhousenews.com

Forestry, mining and agriculture were among the industry sectors that gave the highest shares of campaign cash to Bush. Employees and political action committees of forest-product companies, for example, gave $4 to Bush for every $1 to Sen. John Kerry. For many leaders in these industries, betting on Bush was obvious: In its first four years, Bush's administration built a consistent record of simplifying, scrapping or scaling back enforcement of regulations that added to the cost of doing business. Unlike President Clinton, Bush has attempted to change the way agencies develop regulations, and he already has left a deep imprint on how the federal government writes and enforces regulations. With four more years in office, his impact could last for decades. "What a second Bush administration might do is deepen and further embed the regulatory changes already under way," said Lisa Heinzerling, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. "You embed the personnel, you embed the methodologies, and pretty soon you can't imagine the world looking any different."


World Amphibian Update
November 5, 2004 www.enn.com

According to a new study published in the journal Science, one-third of the world’s amphibians are declining due to disease, climate change, and habitat loss. Of the 5,743 known species, 1,856 are considered globally threatened in the wild. Up to 168 may be extinct. Warming temperatures may be heating many cooler species out of house and home. Development, such as that facing the red-legged frog in California, is destroying the ponds and other wetlands amphibians depend on. Meanwhile, the fungal disease chitridiomycosis, which attacks skin, appears to be responsible for many additional declines. Thin-skinned amphibians readily absorb moisture, air, and pollutants from both land and water. For this reason, they are considered barometers of environmental health, the proverbial canaries in the global coal mine. Scientists say their precipitous decline, tracked by more than 500 scientists participating in the Global Amphibian Assessment project, bodes ill for the future of the planet.


British-German Climate Conference
November 5, 2004 www.enn.com

Prime Minister Tony Blair has made tackling global warming and reducing carbon emissions one of two priorities for Britain's year-long presidency of the Group of Eight (G8) richest nations starting in January. The US refused to sign up to the Kyoto treaty on climate change in 2001, and it was held in limbo until Russia's parliament ratified the treaty last month. Speaking on the sidelines of a British-German conference on climate change in Berlin, the British government's chief scientific adviser David King said London was looking to take advantage of its close relationship with Washington as the Bush administration prepared for its second four-year term. Britain hopes it can exert influence on reelected President George W. Bush and push the United States to do more to combat climate change. The Kyoto treaty aims to cut CO2 emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States has 4 percent of the world's population but produces one-quarter of global emissions.


SeaWorld, Zoo reps go to Japan
November 5, 2004 www.nctimes.com/articles/2004/11/06/news/sandiego

SAN DIEGO - Four representatives of San Diego-area tourist attractions will accompany Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next week on a promotional trip to Japan, officials announced Friday. Accompanying Schwarzenegger on the tour, which is intended to highlight California's exports, commerce and tourism, will be Andy Fichthorn, executive vice president and general manager of SeaWorld San Diego; Cynthia Schmitt, senior manager, travel-industry sales, SeaWorld; Julie Moore, director of marketing and sales, San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park and Christina Simmons, public relations associate director, San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park. Members of the delegation, which will arrive in Japan on Wednesday, will encourage the nation's consumers and merchants to buy California produce and products, visit the state as tourists and bring their business here.


Culling Elephants in Kruger, SA
November 5, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com/news

South Africa's Kruger National Park elephant population has nearly doubled in recent years, causing heavy habitat destruction and invasion of adjacent farms. Now conservation authorities are considering a plan to lift the nine-year moratorium on killing elephants and kill perhaps thousands of elephants to restore the balance of nature in the park. It is in Kruger, South Africa's flagship reserve, that the problem of too many elephants is most acute. The park stopped killing elephants in 1995, in response to pressure from conservation bodies. Since then its elephant count has shot up from fewer than 7,000 to about 13,000. The park's carrying capacity is thought to be a maximum of 7,500 elephants. Hector Magome, SANP's director of conservation services said the incidence of elephant attacks on other animals has increased. One species that has fared particularly poorly is the black rhinoceros, the browsing species of rhino that is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as critically endangered. The rise in elephant attacks, Magome said, is because of the growing competition for food and space inside the 8,000-square-mile (about 20,000-square-kilometers) Kruger park.


Bush Stands by Rejection of Kyoto Limits
November 06, 2004 www.enn.com

Headed into his second term, Bush continues to believe he made the right leadership choice by repudiating the U.N.-sponsored pact negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan that requires industrial nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases below 1990 levels.. Although a new report from 300 scientists in the United States and seven other nations that shows Arctic temperatures are rising, and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Kyoto international climate treaty last week, which puts it into effect early next year without U.S. participation, "President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. White House officials contend the drastic cuts in pollution that the treaty would have imposed on the United States would have cost nearly $400 billion and almost 5 million jobs. Many would have shifted to other countries that were not obligated to reduce their pollution levels, the Bush administration says.


Cohanzick Zoo's 70th anniversary
November 6, 2004 www.nj.com

Over 50 artists across the county contributed to a collective art show at Gallery 50 on Friday, specifically tailored to commemorate the Cohanzick Zoo's 70th anniversary. The annual Cumberland County on Canvas contest, sponsored by Cumberland County's Recreation Commission and Cultural Heritage Commission has had shows every year that feature scenes from all over the county, but this year, the zoo was the main theme. Alan Carman, of Bridgeton, captured the Best in Show prize of $500 for "White Tiger," a pen and ink rendering. Barbara Hymer, of Bridgeton, captured a first place prize of $450 with her acrylic zoo landscape entitled "After Hours." Bridgeton resident Lona Gaines won second place for "The Animals Celebrate," an acrylic zoo collage.


US Medics Train at Cincinnati Zoo
November 7, 2004 www.wcpo.com/news/2004

The Cincinnati Zoo is doing its part to help protect our troops. It's not the enemy one might expect to face in Iraq-- but in the desert, the saw-scale viper poses a real danger. That's why medics from the 256th Combat Support Hospital and the 369th Minimal Care Detachment are taking part in a special training course at the Cincinnati Zoo. "If you do happen to encounter a snake bite victim, there are some things you need to know," said Winston Card, of the Cincinnati Zoo. They're learning not only how to identify the different species of venomous snakes found in iraq -- but how to treat soldiers who may be bitten by them. "The biggest problem you're going to face with a snake bite victim is their own paranoia and their fear of what's happening to them," said Card. The medics taking this course are eligible to be called up at any time to be sent to Iraq.


Australian Sea Bird Conference
November 7, 2004 news.yahoo.com

Australia will host a conference here this week to try to win international support for a campaign to save endangered seabirds from being wiped out by fishing and pollution, the government said. Australia has already won the support of New Zealand, Ecuador, Spain, Britain and South Africa in ratifying an agreement to protect albatrosses and petrels, which came into effect in February. Now the country is hosting an international conference in Hobart, capital of Australia's island state to see what more can be done to protect these birds, whose journeys link Southern Hemisphere countries.


10 most endangered wildlife refuges
November 7, 2004 www.adn.com/alaska/story

The nation has 540 wildlife refuges encompassing nearly 100 million acres. 10 were cited Friday in Defenders of Wildlife’s report entitled "Refuges at Risk: America's Ten Most Endangered National Wildlife Refuges 2004." The five refuges in the West include Arizona’s Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada's Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex; Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California; Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges in Oregon and California; and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The report says the 10 face some common threats, ranging from human presence to nearby development, pollution or invasive species. Escalating industrial and corporate development close to and even inside refuges is the most pervasive threat today, the report said; about three dozen refuges have more than 1,800 active oil and gas wells. A systemwide fund shortage for refuge operations exacerbates the problems.


Chaffee Zoo Future Plans
November 7, 2004 www.fresnobee.com

Fresno's Chaffee Zoo will be rebuilt over the next decade after voters approved Measure Z, a sales-tax initiative expected to generate $95 million. Before any earth is moved, the zoo will undergo a different kind of overhaul. The city of Fresno will get out of the zoo business and turn over management in the next several months to a new nonprofit board that will make far-reaching decisions shaping the zoo's future. The zoo is currently operated by two separate organizations: The city runs and maintains the zoo, and the Zoological Society is the zoo's fund-raising arm. With Measure Z's passage, the Zoological Society will dissolve, and the city will no longer manage the zoo. In their place, a new nonprofit board will be formed to run all zoo operations. The city, county and Zoological Society each will appoint three members to the nonprofit's initial board. Board members will be unpaid. County supervisors also will appoint a zoo authority that will oversee how the nonprofit spends money generated by Measure Z. The zoo authority -- which will include Fresno's mayor -- will receive an annual report on finances from the nonprofit.


Recycling Cell Phones Good for Zoo
November 7, 2004 www.borderlandnews.com

Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association and its industry members recommend recycling cell phones instead of throwing them away in the trash. The association provides online information about recycling wireless devices and operates the Wireless Foundation's Donate a Phonë program. According to the association's Web site, the program has collected more than 2 million used wireless phones that helped raised $5 million for charities, and kept "an estimated 200 tons of electronic waste out of landfills. Most phones are resold as economical alternatives to new phones." The El Paso Zoo and Crisis Pregnancy Services are two organizations asking people to donate their used phones, and there may be others. "We also collect PDA's (Personal Digital Assistants)," said Rick LoBello, El Paso Zoo education curator. "We've been doing this for about a year, and over the past two years we've contributed a little over $2,000 to the World Wildlife Fund for a park in Sumatra, India, for endangered Asian elephants. About $400 of that $2,000 came from cell phone donations."


Wild Animal Park Lions
November 7, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

The new, $5million lion exhibit does get you close, and the cats see you, too. Don't worry, said mammal curator Randy Rieches. The glass is 1 1/ 2 inches thick. The two-acre "Lion Camp" exhibit is home to six juvenile lions the Wild Animal Park received from a South African preserve three months ago. Previously, the park's three resident lions roamed a three-acre parcel in the park's vast rangelands. Those lions are now going to other zoos that need breeding stock, Rieches said. Park officials say it's in everyone's best interest for visitors to get better views. More close-up exhibits are desired, park officials said. Tigers are near the top of the wish list. The new tram system will get visitors closer in the short term. Instead of being hundreds of feet from animal rangelands, the tram will drive just yards away, said David Rice, park director of architecture and planning. The cars will be safe because they are enclosed. The tour will be split into two trips: One will explore the park's "Africa" territory, and the other will go to "Asia." The price tag for the new tram system is $30 million, and construction will begin in January. The current train will continue to take visitors around the park until its replacement is ready in late 2006. The lion exhibit was paid for with charitable donations; the tram's building costs will require a separate fund-raising program, a park official said.


No More Chicken for Tigers
November 7, 2004 www.reuters.com

BEIJING (Reuters) - A zoo in southern China has pulled poultry from the diets of its tigers and lions to prevent a winter outbreak of the deadly birdflu, the Xinhua news agency reported Sunday. The move came after dozens of tigers were infected or culled in a bird flu outbreak at a zoo in Thailand last month. Lions, tigers and other meat-eating animals at the Guangzhou Zoo in Guangdong province would keep to a strict regimen of beef, mutton, rabbit and no chicken for the next three months, Xinhua quoted zoo official Chen Honghan as saying. China has reported outbreaks of bird flu among poultry this year.


Mysore Zoo Elephant Death
November 8, 2004 www.starofmysore.com

Mysore - Neglect on the part of the veterinary doctors was the cause of the elephant Komala in Mysore Zoo and it was not due to poisoning, according to the report by the Forensic Science Laboratory. Doctors, who conducted the post-mortem, had sent viscera of Komala, which died on Oct. 22. The report from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, was received on Saturday, in which it has been stated that failure to treat the ailment was the cause of the death of the elephant, Mr. Vijay Kumar, Police Inspector, Nazarbad Police Station, said. The Zoo doctors had given to Komala, which vomited and suffered from diarrhoea, the same treatment given to Ganesha and Roopa, resulting in the death of Komala, the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory has revealed. Giving Komala the medicine meant to treat cases of poisoning, without proper diagnosis, had resulted in the death of the elephant. Its death was not caused by poisoning, the report had clarified,


CRES Beckman Center Opens
November 8, 2004 www.nctimes.com/articles/2004/11/09/news By Andrea Moss

A new research center at the San Diego Wild Animal Park is giving animal conservation researchers a chance to spread their wings ---- or at least their elbows and imaginations. The Zoological Society of San Diego showed off the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research during an open house Monday. Set at the front of the San Diego Wild Animal Park along Highway 78, the $22 million, 50,000-square-foot research center took 17 months to build. It replaces a San Diego Zoo research facility that is about one-fifth the size of the new center. Zoological Society officials said the new research center is the largest of its kind in the world. About 120 scientists, researchers and technicians involved in eight different areas of animal research are in the process of moving into the new facility. Many were on hand Monday as several dozen guests ---- including researchers from other states and countries ---- attended two lectures by conservation experts. Tours of the facility and a series of demonstrations in its laboratories followed.

As they toured the two-story facility, the scientists marveled over the spaciousness and airiness of multiple lab and office wings, a research library and other features they said will inspire them to new research heights. "The whole (old) building was about the size of this wing," said Fred Bercovitch, head of the center's behavioral biology department, standing in his new research area. "You'd step on other people's toes and bump into a lot of people, and we were split up all over." The size of the new facility and the fact that it has room for multiple pieces of the same equipment means researchers who now "take a number" to use specific instruments can increase the number of tests and studies they perform, he said. "We're limited in what we can do (in the old facility)," Bercovitch said. "This will enable to us to expand our research efforts."

The center is also expected to boost the Zoological Society's reputation in animal conservation circles, thereby helping it attract more top scientists and setting the stage for more collaborations with animal conservation organizations. That in turn will only benefit endangered animals, Bercovitch and others said.

The nonprofit Zoological Society operates the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. By establishing the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species at the zoo 27 years ago, the organization became a leader in the field of animal conservation. Center employees study animal ecology, evolution, behavioral biology and habitat conservation. Endangered species' reproductive physiology, genetics and diversity patterns are other focal points at the center.

The work is carried out all over the globe, with many researchers traveling to remote parts of Africa, rain forests in Australia and other places in the course of their work. A rotating mix of college interns, graduate students, post-doctorate fellows and visiting researchers also use the facility, bringing its total occupancy at any given time to around 200 people. Over the years, the ever-growing number of staff members and projects at the center led to cramped working conditions. Some of the facility's scientists and researchers ended up housed in closets, portable trailers and other odd spaces that had been converted into offices or labs. The center's molecular diagnostic department, for instance, has been housed for years in the type of metal storage container commonly loaded onto ships and trains.

The 300 square feet of work space it offered meant the department ---- which strives to identify animal diseases just as the Centers for Disease Control does for humans ---- could never expand beyond three employees or process all of its test samples, said Mark Schrenzel, who heads up the department's lab.

"We had to meet every morning to figure out who was going to be in there," he said, referring to the narrow metal quarters. "And there was no room for more equipment, let alone more people." The new facility offers 1,500 square feet of generic lab space, 1,500 square feet of specialized lab space and a row of one-person offices for each of the center's departments. The labs are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Plans call for moving a frozen zoo that contains thousands of samples of animal species from the San Diego Zoo to the new facility.

The entire building is filled with large windows that look out onto a courtyard at the center of the building, the animal park, or the vast San Pasqual Valley. Tim Jessop is a post-doctorate fellow who has spent the past couple years working on a research project involving the Komodo dragon. The new research facility is "amazing" compared to others he has worked at, Jessop said. "It's just really well set up and aesthetically, it's a very nice-looking working environment," he said. "It gives us lots of space, and it's just beautiful to work in."


Mysore Elephant Calf Born
November 8, 2004 www.starofmysore.com

Mysore – After the sad news of serial deaths of elephants at the Mysore Zoo, the visitors were in for a treat yesterday when they watched a male calf tottering on its tiny legs bringing cheers to the Zoo. The male calf was delivered by elephant Padmavathi, aged 50. This was the fifth calf for Padmavathi, which delivered in captivity at the Zoo. The calf was sired by Ganesha, which died on Sept. 4 due to poisoning. The mother and calf are in good health, according to Zoo Director, Mr. Manoj Kumar.


Salamander Meeting at St. Louis Zoo
November 8, 2004 www.kansascity.com

The population of North America's largest salamander is plummeting in Missouri and Arkansas, and scientists from five states met to consider how to prevent the creature's disappearance. About 35 members of the Hellbender Working Group met for meetings at the St. Louis Zoo last week to review research and plans for helping prevent the extinction of the 2-foot-long salamander, which lives in a few cold, spring-fed Ozark streams. Stanley Trauth, a zoology professor at Arkansas State University, showed pictures of hellbenders with open sores, tumors and missing limbs and eyes. He said that nine out of 10 animals found in the Spring River this year had serious abnormalities.


Colchester Zoo has fewer vistors
November 8, 2004 www.eadt.co.uk

A popular East Anglian tourist attraction has announced a "massive" drop in visitor numbers, which it fears could delay vital improvement works. Family-owned Colchester Zoo has issued figures showing overall attendance for the financial year ending on October 31 2004 fell to 464,684 visitors compared to 547,495 the previous year – a fall of about 15%. The zoo directors blame the general economy for the downturn and, to a lesser extent, the weather. Zoo director Dominique Tropeano said: "2003 was a particularly successful year for Colchester Zoo with the birth of our first baby elephant, Kito, and various enclosure developments. "With a noticeably less buoyant economy we have seen a critical drop in attendance which could mean the delay of other new developments such as the Wilds of Asia complex for orang-utans (crrct) and a new enclosure for Komodo Dragons. These two enclosures are scheduled to cost at least £2.5 million."


Woodland Park Zoo: Multimedia
November 8 2004  www.zoo.org/multimedia/index.html

The Woodland Park Zoo, located in Seattle, was one of the first zoos in the United States to move animals out of traditional barred enclosures into more naturalistic habitats. Now the zoo has created this multimedia area where the young and old can view some of these animals in these habitats, and learn more about them interactively. The interactive features area is a good place to start, as visitors can watch a video of a komodo dragon baby hatching, view an interactive map to learn about the decline of the Sumatran tiger, and explore the world of the jaguar. The video archive offers some short video clips of animals "in action", including a kea bird, some Ossabaw pigs, and a snow leopard. The "Miscellaneous Goodies" area is a real treat as visitors can view the "Bear Cam" (which features, yes, that's right: live bears), send a friend an electronic postcard of an endangered animal, and experience the life cycle of a butterfly.


Half of Europe’s Birds Threatened
November 8, 2004 www.guardian.co.uk

Nearly half of the species of birds that nest in or routinely visit Europe are in peril, with some so threatened that they may disappear altogether, according to two studies published today. Altogether, 226 species - 43% of Europe's birds - face an uncertain future. Species at risk in Britain include wading birds such as the curlew, left with fewer places to nest as lowland river valleys are drained, and migrants such as the wood warbler, wheatear and house martin, which breed in Britain but winter in Africa. Birdlife International launches two new studies in the Netherlands today, at a conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the EU's Birds Directive. One publication examines efforts in conservation within the union. The second spans the whole of Europe from Greenland to Georgia, from the Canary Islands to Russia, to estimate the level of problems in each individual state or territory. The decline of European birds is part of a worldwide pattern: more than 10% of the world's bird species are threatened with extinction. A quarter of the world's mammals could also become extinct in the next few decades. Thirty per cent of the world's flowering plants could be at some risk. There have been apocalyptic predictions that a quarter to half of all the world's wild creatures could vanish in the next century. But even the most conservative biologists estimate that extinction rates have increased a hundredfold, or even one thousandfold, in the past few decades.

Useful links

Environmental Investigation Agency www.eia-international.org/index_nonshocked.shtml

WWF UK: endangered species www.wwf.org.uk/core/wildlife/endangeredspecies.asp

Greenpeace UK www.greenpeace.org.uk

Joint Nature Conservation Committee www.jncc.gov.uk

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) www.ukcites.gov.uk/default.asp

Marine Conservation Society www.mcsuk.org

UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre www.unep-wcmc.org


Birdflu carried by Ducks
November 8, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com/news

The bird flu that has killed millions of poultry in east Asia may be tougher and more dangerous to humans than previously suspected. Highly pathogenic, on some poultry farms it has killed 100 percent of infected birds. Now, research from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, has revealed that domestic ducks infected with H5N1 shed large quantities of virus in feces as well as through the respiratory tract. The 2004 strain of H5N1 survives longer in the outside environment than those from earlier outbreaks. But most disturbing is the fact that ducks carrying the virus do not die or show any symptoms of disease. "H5N1 is now circulating widely in Asia. It is becoming increasingly pathogenic and we are discovering it can infect more and more types of mammals," said Klaus Stöhr, who leads the Global Influenza Programme at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. In its most recent incarnation the virus has killed humans. To date there have been 44 confirmed human cases of H5N1 flu in Thailand and Vietnam. Of these, 32 people died—a fatality rate of 75 percent. Survivors suffer from severe pneumonia. "We believe we are closer than ever to the next pandemic [widespread outbreak]," Stöhr said. Statistically, pandemics tend to occur every 10 to 27 years. It has been 36 years since the last one struck, and Stöhr thinks the next is long overdue.


LA Wants Ruby Moved
November 8, 2004 www.presstelegram.com

Although Ruby the elephant is set to return to Los Angeles this month from a 17-month exile in Tennessee, city officials are quietly looking to move the 9,000-pound pachyderm to another city. Although Mayor James Hahn has ordered Ruby be returned to the Los Angeles Zoo, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has filed documents in court saying officials are searching for alternative zoos where the African elephant "may be better suited." The action angers animal-rights activists, who claim that Ruby's confined quarters at the Knoxville Zoo and her separation from Gita, her longtime elephant companion in Los Angeles, have jeopardized her health. "It's outrageous. It's absolutely outrageous," said Gretchen Wyler, vice president of the U.S. Humane Society Hollywood office in Encino, which has backed a lawsuit to bring the 43-year-old elephant home. "Here we go again: Ruby is being sent to another zoo, when we have a nice facility with a great (climate) and her old friend, Gita. It shows the arrogance of the (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) and the zoo to override the mayor's directive." "Ruby's good. Everybody wants Ruby back to Los Angeles. Ruby's coming home," said Sahar Moridani, a spokeswoman for the mayor. "But if someday there can be another option for a better home for her, then it is our responsibility to explore that option."


Project NatureConnect (PNC)
November 8, 2004 www.enn.com

On average, we spend over 95 percent of our time indoors. In our estrangement from nature, we disconnect our mind from its nurturing and healing origins in our planet's natural systems. This breach prevents us from thoughtfully enjoying the health, purity and balance of nature's wholeness. Over 99 percent of our thinking is disconnected from and out of tune with authentic nature so we seldom acknowledge that nature rarely displays our troubles as it harmoniously produces its optimums of life, diversity, cooperation and peaceful transformation. We ignore that as part of nature we inherit this ability but we don't nurture it. The Institute of Global Education, a non-profit, special NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council has established a web site at www.ecopsych.com to assist educators in helping people to reconnect to nature.


Adjusting to Global Warming
November 8, 2004 www.nytimes.com

North American wildlife species ranging from butterflies to red fox are scrambling to adapt to Earth's rising temperatures and may not survive, according to a study released on Monday. Heat-trapping greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles, factories and other human activities have boosted Earth's temperatures by 1 degree F over the past century, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change said in a report. To adapt, North American species like the Edith's Checkerspot butterfly, red fox and Mexican jay are moving to colder northern climates that suit their habits, the Pew Center said, citing 40 separate scientific studies. With global temperatures expected to rise another 2.5 degrees to 10.4 degrees F by 2100, ``future global warming is likely to exceed the ability of many species to migrate or adjust,'' the Pew Center said. Wildlife officials need to expand nature reserves and improve habitat conservation efforts to give species more flexibility to adjust to changing conditions, the report said.


National Zoo Euthanizes Sumatran Tiger
November 9, 2004 www.wtopnews.com

For the second time in less than a week, the veterinarians at the National Zoo have euthanized one of their big cats. A female Sumatran tiger that had been suffering from a chronic neuromuscular condition was put down Monday. Zoo officials say Kerinci had been having problems walking in recent weeks and a decision was made to end her suffering. The cat was found in the wild in Indonesia as a cub in 1984.The zoo has six remaining Sumatran tigers including one female and five males. Three of the males are cubs born last May. Last Tuesday, zoo veterinarians euthanized a 12-year-old cheetah that was suffering from diabetes. The animal had lived at the National Zoo since arriving in 1992 when it was less than a year old. The zoo now has six cheetahs left in its collection.


Toxicity from beetles
November 9, 2004

The Colombian poison-dart frog and six Papua New Guinea birds, mostly jay-sized songbird species commonly known as pitohui, live almost at opposite ends of the Earth. But the animals share one thing in common: They use batrachotoxin, a rare neurotoxin that is 250 times more potent than strychnine. Researchers believe the creatures use the poison, which laces their skin and/or feathers, as a type of biodefense that protects the animals from predators and parasites. Scientists suspect the birds and amphibian can't manufacture batrachotoxin naturally. Now researchers believe the toxin comes from the beetles they eat. In a study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that they have found batrachotoxins in a little-known group of beetles from the Choresine genus. The discovery marks the first time the toxin has been found in an insect. Biologists found the same beetles in the stomachs of the Papua New Guinean birds, which they say suggests that eating Choresine beetles provides the South Pacific animals with the key ingredient for their toxic defense against predators and parasites.


Arctic is melting quickly
November 9, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com/news

Scientists have determined that the ice in Greenland and the Arctic is melting so rapidly that much of it could be gone by the end of the century. The results could be catastrophic for polar people and animals, while low-lying lands as far away as Florida could be inundated by rising sea levels. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment was released yesterday. It will be discussed by the Arctic Council (the governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the U.S., as well as six indigenous-peoples organizations) at a meeting in Iceland today. The four-year study of the Arctic climate involved an international team of more than 300 scientists. They used a number of climate models and made a "moderate estimate" of future emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are widely believed to be contributing to the recent warming trend of the Earth's climate. The study concluded that in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia, average temperatures have increased as much as 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) in the past 50 years, nearly twice the global average. Temperatures are projected to rise 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius) over the next hundred years. The rising temperatures are likely to cause the melting of at least half the Arctic sea ice by the end of the century. A significant portion of the Greenland ice sheet—which contains enough water to raise the worldwide sea level by about 23 feet (about 7 meters)—would also melt.


Brookfield Orangutan ‘Makeover’
November 9, 2004 abclocal.go.com/wls/news

Maggie the orangutan has undergone a makeover worthy of a reality show. When she arrived at the Brookfield Zoo in 1995 from the Milwaukee Zoo, Maggie tipped the scales at 200 pounds. The 43-year-old animal was also sluggish and suffered from a host of medical problems: dry and brittle hair and dry skin, and her snoring was keeping the other orangs at Brookfield awake all night. At first, veterinarians thought Maggie's condition might be because of her weight. They put her on a high-fiber diet and tried to get her to exercise -- without much luck. A University of Chicago endocrinologist helped diagnose Maggie with a hyperthyroid condition. Now she gets medicine to help her body regulate its metabolism. A year later, Maggie's 90 pounds lighter. Keepers have also seen her mating with a male orangutan for the first time in years.


Polar bear to return home to China
November 9, 2004 www.terradaily.com/2004

An Australian theme park said Tuesday that a polar bear brought from China for an unsuccessful breeding program would return to Beijing despite objections from animal lovers. Animal welfare activists staged a protest at the weekend outside the Sea World theme park on the touristic Gold Coast in Queensland state, complaining that Chinese facilities for "Ping Ping" were sub-standard. The 9-year-old bear came to Australia four years ago on a breeding loan from Beijing Zoo. Sea World on Tuesday released photographs of the enclosure in Beijing which showed a cement-covered area and a small pool, and admitted they were no match for the six million dollar (4.5 million US) facilities on the Gold Coast. Sea World's marine sciences manager Trevor Long said "Certainly Beijing Zoo is not a Polar Bear Shores, but it is a very large exhibit and it's an exhibit that is about to enter winter where you have five months of ice and snow and I think that is also pretty enriching." Long said the theme park would help the zoo improve its facilities for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.


Primate Research Center at Edinburgh Zoo
November 9, 2004 news.scotsman.com

BRITAIN’S first primate research centre, where scientists will be able to study the behavior of chimps up close, is to be built at Edinburgh Zoo. Visitors to the zoo will also get the chance to watch primates go about their daily business and learn about their habits at the new centre. The pioneering facility, to be called the Living Links to Human Evolution Centre, will help scientists gain a better understanding of some of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Researchers at the Scottish Primate Research Group, which includes Edinburgh University, have been awarded a grant of £1.6 million from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council to create the centre. It will be jointly run by bosses at the zoo and scientists from St Andrews University. Zoo chief executive David Windmill said the centre would provide a wonderful exhibit. The centre will consist of two complexes, each containing mixed groups of primates. The animals will also have access to large enclosures and internal housing.


Chimpanzee Tool Use
November 9, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Chimpanzees are renowned for their complex tool using behaviors and wide array of tool assemblages. However, the tool using repertoire of these apes in central Africa's Congo Basin has remained an enigma, based mainly on indirect evidence and fleeting observations. In this study, a new type of remote video technology was used to study chimpanzee behavior at termite nests in the Goualougo Triangle, Republic of Congo. From six-months of remote video surveillance at termite nests, we provide the first descriptions of the form and function of two distinct tool sets used by chimpanzees in preying upon termites in central Africa. They differ from technologies observed in other parts of their range. Chimpanzees regularly visit two forms of termite nests and used specific tool sets to extract their insect prey depending on the structure of the nest. These interesting additions to the diversity of chimpanzee material culture have broad implications for our understanding of the ecological and cultural factors that shape hominoid tool use. Although decades of long-term studies have been dedicated to this species in other parts of Africa, these chimpanzees of the Congo Basin have shown us that there is still much to learn about the behavior of these apes.


2 New Brazilian Forest Reserves
November 10, 2004 www.enn.com

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva placed a large swath of rainforest under government protection Tuesday, creating two new environmental reserves in the Amazon. The two "extractavist" reserves in the Amazon state of Para will protect over 2,000 square kilometers (772.20 square miles) of rainforest from logging, mining and other forms of environmental degradation. Brazil has different categories of environmental reserve: Extravist reserves are designed to allow the local population to remain in the protected area, tapping rubber, picking fruits and nuts and extracting other regenerating goods from the forest. Only about 4 percent of the 5 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles) Amazon are protected in environmental reserves, while 20 percent is protected in the form of Indigenous reservations. Brazil's rainforest is as big as western Europe, covering 60 percent of the country's national territory. Experts say as much as 20 percent of its has been destroyed by development, logging and farming.


Future of Great Plains Zoo
November 10, 2004 www.keloland.com/News

Now in it's 41st year, the Great Plains Zoo is entering a mid-life crisis. Many of its displays are outdated and in need of repair. Now the city is looking at a possible makeover of the zoo. The oldest animal displays at the Great Plains Zoo are concrete jungles surrounded by metal fences. A far cry from the trend at other zoos that place the animals in more natural and wide-open settings. Zoo Task Force Chairman Rick Knobe said, "There's a lot of new ways of containing animals these days that didn't exist forty years ago, and the zoological society wants to update along the way." But modernizing the zoo is just one goal. Many of the exhibits need repairs, both outdoors and indoors. The museum is dealing with climate-control problems. Humidity is causing the animal skins to crack and to peel. The Zoological Society of Sioux Falls asked the city for $1 million a year over the next ten years to pay for improvements. Zoo task force members want to hear from the public before they draw up their final recommendations. They hope people who've visited the zoo will offer their insights into making the zoo a better place for both customers and critters. The zoo has attracted 156,000 people this year. Tonight's public hearing begins at seven o'clock at the Carnegie Town Hall in downtown Sioux Falls. The meeting should last about two hours.


Okapi baby at St. Louis Zoo
November 10, 2004 www.kansascity.com

The okapi is the only relative of the giraffe and is considered to be the rarest animal in captivity. Zoo officials said there are just 87 okapis in 22 American zoos, including five in St. Louis. A rare male okapi, born at the St. Louis Zoo July 1 is doing well despite a shaky relationship with its mother, according to Martha Fischer, curator of mammals/ungulates at the St. Louis Zoo. Badru was the first calf of his mother, Hisani, who was frightened by the delivery and attacked the calf, breaking his leg. Zoo officials were monitoring the birth on video and quickly separated the two. A zoo surgeon repaired the leg. Badru has thrived under the care of keepers, who have bottle-fed him and observed him around the clock, and although he weighed 33 pounds at birth, considered on the low-end of average, he now weighs 150 pounds. The animal's mother is housed in an adjacent stall - the two can see each other and interact, but they have no physical contact out of fear that the mother might attack again, Fischer said. Hisani, an 8-year-old, is on loan from Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. The 12-year-old father, Hamaki, is on loan from White Oak Conservation Center in Florida. Hisani is pregnant again, and zoo officials are hopeful she'll behave better the second time around. "It's not unusual for a first-time okapi mother to be scared when she has her first calf," Fischer said. "She didn't know what it was.


Baboon escapes at Bush Airport
November 10, 2004

A female baboon who was part of a troop of primates heading for a zoo in the San Francisco area escaped from a Continental Airlines plane at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when workers tried to load her cage into the belly of the plane with the other animals. "In the process of loading, the door came open and she escaped." said Houston airport system spokesman Roger Smith. The baboon never entered the passenger area of the airport and airport workers were able to contain her until animal control specialists arrived. Special precautions were taken to subdue her because of her pregnancy. But she was bumped to stand-by, because the others in her group had already left. Smith said he knew of at least one other case where a primate broke free from the cargo. "You would be amazed at what people have to transport -- all manner of wildlife," he said.


Great Ape Crisis Symposium in Iowa

November 10, 2004 www.enn.com

Des Moines, Iowa - Less than a century ago, millions of great apes thrived throughout central Africa and Southeast Asia. Today they are rapidly disappearing - most of them the victims of deforestation and poaching. Some are captured or killed for an illegal international pet trade while others are slaughtered for their bushmeat. All the great apes - bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans face extinction - some by the end of this decade. "It's conceivable that in five or six years, one species of orangutans could disappear from the face of the earth," says Dr. Robert Shumaker, director of the orangutan research program at Great Ape Trust of Iowa. To generate greater public awareness about the dilemma, Great Ape Trust, a research center in Des Moines that studies great ape behavior and intelligence, is co-hosting The Great Ape Crisis Symposium with the Balikpapan Orangutan Society (BOS) - USA, the Borneo Orangutan Society (BOS) - Indonesia and Drake University of Des Moines. The Symposium is scheduled for Saturday, November 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Olmsted Center at Drake University in Des Moines. The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending may register on-line at www.GreatApeTrust.org or by calling Great Ape Trust at 515.243.3580. Speakers scheduled for The Great Ape Crisis Symposium include:

Dr. Mark Leighton, Harvard University "Orangutans as World Heritage Species"

Dr. Benjamin Beck, Great Ape Trust "Reintroduction of African Apes"

Dr. Robert Shumaker, Great Ape Trust, BOS-USA and BOS-Indonesia "Great Apes in Entertainment and the Pet Trade"

Dr. Duane Rumbaugh, Great Ape Trust "Lessons by the "Forest People" Taught in My Office, Laboratory and Life"

Dr. Anne Russon, Glendon College of York University, BOS-USA and BOS-Indonesia "The Social Life of the Solitary Ape: Culture and Cognition in Orangutan Conservation"

Dr. Roberto Delgado, Hunter College: City University of New York "Using Field Research to Conserve Orangutans"


New USDA official animal ID system
November 10, 2004 www.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it will recognize additional numbering systems for the identification of animals. The systems will apply to interstate commerce and cooperative disease control and eradication programs for animals. Additionally, APHIS will authorize the use of a national numbering system to identify premises where animals are managed or held. These new numbering systems will be a key element in the national animal identification system (NAIS), which USDA is implementing on a voluntary basis. Currently, many producers use separate identification numbers or methods for official animal health programs, interstate commerce purposes and industry programs such as breed registries. Various industry organizations have recommended, and USDA supports, moving towards a standardized numbering system that would allow one number to be used for all of these purposes. An animal or group of animals would be identified with the same official number under multiple programs, instead of being identified with a different number under each program. The data associated with each program could still be maintained separately, however. Accordingly, APHIS is amending the regulations to recognize for official use the 15-character animal identification number, 13-character group/lot identification number and 7-character premises identification number. The new official animal numbering system will allow producers to transition into the use of a "one number-one animal" system if they wish to do so. This interim rule does not change the requirements defining which animals must be officially identified, nor does it require that producers use the new numbering systems. The rule merely ensures that the new numbering systems are recognized as official, allowing those who want to use such systems to do so.

APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Jan. 7, 2005. Comments can be submitted by postal mail, commercial delivery or by e-mail. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 04-052-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238 or e-mail comments to regulations@aphis.usda.gov . E-mail comments must be contained in the body of the message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in the message and type "Docket No. 04-052-1" on the subject line. To submit comments online, go to www.regulations.gov  and follow the instructions for locating this docket and submitting comments. Comments can be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.


Saving the Northern Sage Grouse
November 11, 2004 www.nytimes.com

An initiative by the Bureau of Land Management to conserve the habitat of the northern sage grouse is complicating efforts to earn the bird designation as an endangered species. The bird is a signature species of the West whose range overlaps with oil and gas deposits and grazing lands throughout the Rocky Mountain states. The effort to get the bird listed is being considered by a sister agency in the Interior Department, the USFWS, which must make its decision by Dec. 29. Such a designation could lead to new restrictions on energy exploration and grazing on lands where the birds live. The USFWS announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday that it was rejecting a petition to give endangered status to the white-tailed prairie dog. The scientific evidence, it said, did not warrant such action.


Edingurgh Zoo’s Turtle Campaign
November 11, 2004 news.scotsman.com

EDINBURGH Zoo has joined a major campaign to save some of the hundreds of critically-endangered species of turtles and tortoises worldwide. Staff at the zoo will stage an exhibition on the plight of the animals to coincide with a fundraising drive to make money for projects aimed at nurturing turtle and tortoise populations in the wild. And they have not ruled out creating a "Turtle Ark" during next year’s campaign to take in more species of endangered turtles and tortoises in a bid to boost their numbers. The work will be part of the Shellshock campaign, which has been set up by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Anders Rhodin, chairman of the Turtle Conservation Fund, said it was crucial to find new ways to protect the animals. "In launching this Shellshock campaign, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria is stepping to the forefront of the global effort to ensure survival of turtles and tortoises," he said.


Minnesota Zoo’s Fishing Cat Cub
November 11, 2004 www.mnsun.com

Born July 29, "Electra" weighed in at 200 grams – slightly less than a half pound. The Fishing Cat cub now weighs over 4 pounds. Zookeepers provide her with "fishing opportunities" throughout the day, and she’s learning from her mother how to fish. The mother was transferred to the Minnesota Zoo in October 2003 from the Nashville Zoo. She was born the previous October at the Kheo Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. The father, born in March 1999, has been at the Minnesota Zoo since July 2002. Fishing cats, best known for their ability to fish, are native to southwest India, Sri Lanka, Southern Himalayas, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Southern China, Sumatra, Java, and Thailand. Due to their aquatic nature and diet, they are commonly found in areas associated with water. Marshy thickets, mangrove swamps and densely vegetated areas near streams, rivers and lakes are all suitable habitat for this species.


Panay Cloud Rat born at London Zoo
November 11, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

The first Panay cloud rat bred outside the Philippines has been produced at the UK's London Zoo. Scientists say it is an important conservation step for the endangered squirrel-like animal that was only discovered in the late 1980s. The new arrival came from one of three breeding pairs brought to London from the Philippines last year. If more young are born, other European zoos will be invited to take on animals to build up a small population. "The Panay cloud rat is a conservation priority in the Philippines and the Zoological Society of London (which operates London Zoo) is supporting their work to protect this highly endangered animal," said David Field, head of animal care for ZSL. "Our aim is to establish a viable population of cloud rats outside the Philippines as an insurance population for the wild."


Flushing Meadows Zoo Future
November 11, 2004 www.zwire.com

The zoo in Flushing Meadows Park was almost closed down by the mayor last year. He said there wasn’t enough money to run the $3.8-million facility. The public disagreed and after months of protests and letter-writing, the mayor eventually backed down. But in order to keep it open, the zoo received a $1-million cut in funding, to be replaced by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Parks Department, which owns the zoo. Admission fees were doubled and some employees were let go. Trained volunteers were the answer to filling the gap. Now, the Education Department, headed by Tom Hurtubise, has switched to an all-volunteer staff, who also give tours. Volunteers have been recruited and have received months of intense training. Those who complete the program are expected to work at least once a week for a year. Many of them man the biofacts carts, situated at various locations throughout the 11-acre facility. There youngsters can learn about particular animals, feel their fur or examine their bone structure. Volunteers answer questions, the most popular being if the items are for sale, which they are not. The facility has 18 active volunteers and a new training class has just begun with 12 more. "Our goal is to have 40 active volunteers" according to Zoo Director Robin Dalton.

 
National Zoo’s 3rd Death this month
November 11, 2004 www.wtopnews.com

A freak accident claimed the life of a monkey at the National Zoo Thursday. It's the third animal death there this month. Zoo officials say a three-year-old Sulawesi macaque named Ripley was in the Think Tank exhibit. But as keepers were closing a hydraulic door, Ripley made a fatal mistake, trying to dart through before it closed. He didn't make it. Ripley is the third animal to die at the zoo this month. Already, a Sumatran tiger with a neuromuscular condition, and a cheetah with diabetes have been euthanized.


Sequoia Park Pavillion
November 11, 2004

The new gift shop at the Sequoia Park Zoo was scheduled to be open around Dec. 1, the date has been pushed back again. "We cannot occupy the new pavilion until we receive a certificate of occupancy from the city," said Jeff Lamoree, president of the zoo’s foundation, at the Zoo Advisory Board meeting Friday. The certificate cannot be issued until the entire pavilion is complete, he said. The remainder of the pavilion will include a café and kitchen; a classroom, which can be used for community meetings; an interpretive center; a crafts room; and a kitchen to prepare food for the animals that will have windows where visitors can watch how it is prepared. The pavilion is scheduled to be open by February, Lamoree said.


Soldier Kills Tiger at Baghdad Zoo
November 11, 2004 english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/397/14569_tiger.html

A defenseless Bengal Tiger, locked up in its cage, was shot dead by a drunken American soldier. A group of drunken American soldiers entered Baghdad zoo last Thursday night, according to a report released by AFP. Adel Salman Musa told this agency that one of the group entered the tiger's cage and started teasing it, whereby the animal attacked him, injuring his hand and arm. One of the other soldiers opened fire on the animal, killing it. The Bengal Tiger is an endangered species, numbering between 3.000 and 4.500 in the wild. How it is possible that the US Armed Forces continue to run riot in such shocking acts of cruelty, after what happened at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, defies logic. Under international law, Washington is liable, accountable and responsible for the actions of this rabble and those in command have to pay reparations for any illegal acts committed. The slaughtering of a tiger, when compared to the long list of war crimes already perpetrated, is just one more incident to add to the epitaph of the Bush regime.


EU fishing may fuel bushmeat trade in W. Africa
November 11, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Using 30 years worth of census data collected monthly by rangers in six nature reserves in Ghana, University of British Columbia researchers have found a direct link between fish supply and the demand for bushmeat in Ghanaian villages. The multibillion-dollar bushmeat trade in West Africa is a trend that is a phenomenon threatening the survival of dozens of wildlife species, and EU fishing agreements with African nations. More than half of Ghana's 20 million people reside within 100 km of the coast, where fish are the primary source of dietary protein and income. Looking at data for the years 1970 to 1998, researchers found that in 14 local food markets, when fish supply was limited or its price increased, residents substituted bushmeat as an alternate source of affordable protein and the number of bushmeat hunters observed by rangers in parks increased. Overall, the wildlife harvest has contributed to a 76 per cent decline in the biomass of 41 species of mammals in parks since 1970. Declines in fish stocks in waters off West Africa have coincided with more than ten-fold increases in regional fish harvests by foreign and domestic fleets since 1950. The European Union has consistently had the largest foreign presence off West Africa, with EU fish harvests there increasing by a factor of 20 from 1950 to 2001.  The findings will be published in November 12 issue of the journal Science.


Biodiversity in a Grassland Ecosystem
November 11, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

In a study that mimicked the natural order of species loss in a grassland ecosystem, researchers found that declining biodiversity greatly reduces resistance to invasive species and that the presence of even small numbers of rare species have profound functional effects. The results have important implications for understanding the biodiversity crisis, said researcher Erika S. Zavaleta, assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previous experiments relied on random species removal rather than realistic patterns of loss, which turn out to be quite dissimilar. "We replicated natural patterns and processes and found that both patterns of abundance and the order of species loss matter a great deal," said Zavaleta, who conducted the five-year study with Kristin B. Hulvey, a doctoral student in environmental studies at UCSC. "This defines a new direction for research." In the realistic loss scenario, entire groups of plants with unique functions disappeared faster than expected by chance, and invader resistance declined dramatically. The results suggest that biodiversity losses in natural systems can have far greater impacts than indicated by randomized-loss experiments. The five-year study is among the first to combine conservation biology's focus on the order of species loss with experimental scrutiny of the consequences of those losses. It was conducted at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University.


Man jumps into Bronx Caiman Exhibit
November 12, 2004 www.newsday.com/news

An apparently emotionally disturbed man stripped naked and jumped into an exhibit with two young caimans at the Bronx Zoo Friday afternoon. It was not clear how long the man had been in the zoo. He took his clothes off inside the World of Darkness, tossing them to the ground near the caiman exhibit, then scaled a handrail and a five-foot glass barrier. The man, whose name was not released, was intent on interacting with the caimans, reaching for them while sitting on a rock as stunned police officers -- who rushed there from a zoo substation -- looked on. But before he could make contact with the reptiles a zoo worker slid a plywood board in front of them, preventing the caimans -- each about four feet long -- from reaching the man. Zoo workers drained the pool the caimans frolicked in, then Emergency Service Unit officers pulled the man out.
He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center for observation. Linda Corcoran, a spokeswoman for the zoo, said in a statement that there were no other visitors in the World of Darkness at the time of the 1:30 p.m. incident. The exhibit re-opened at 2:15 p.m. "Because of the quick response by the Bronx Zoo and the NYPD, there were no injuries to the intruder or the caiman," she said. Caimans are members of the alligator family and can grow as long as 9 feet, though most males peak at about 7 feet and most females peak at about 4 to 5 feet. Antoine Yates, the Harlem man who made headlines last year for keeping a 400-pound tiger in his apartment, also kept a 3-foot caiman as a pet.


Avian Cholera could spread from Great Salt Lake
November 12, 2004 www.nwhc.usgs.gov/

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center are concerned that avian cholera, which recently killed about 30,000 eared grebes--small, diving water birds--at Great Salt Lake, Utah, could spread as birds migrate south for the winter, the agency announced today. Last week, USGS scientists isolated Pasteurella multocida, the bacterium that causes avian cholera, from dead grebes that were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. USGS scientists are working with Utah biologists to monitor the situation. "We haven't observed significant avian cholera outbreaks in North America since 1998, so we aren't certain if this mortality represents an isolated event or a renewal of regular outbreaks," says Mike Samuel, a USGS scientist and avian cholera expert. "Because recent research shows that birds are the primary reservoir for maintaining and spreading this disease, we need to consider the possibility that grebes and other birds will spread avian cholera beyond the Great Salt Lake during their migration to wintering areas." Each fall about 1.5 million eared grebes congregate at the Great Salt Lake as they migrate south. Avian cholera is the most common infectious disease among wild North American waterfowl. Once birds are infected with P. multocida, they die quickly, sometimes within 6 to 12 hours after infection. Bacteria spread by dead and dying birds can subsequently infect healthy birds. As a result, avian cholera can sweep quickly through a wetland and kill thousands of birds in a single outbreak.


Tropical Birds Sensitive to Environmental Cues
November 12, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Ignacio Moore, of Virginia Tech and John C. Wingfield and Eliot A. Brenowitz from University of Washington, Seattle, have looked at seasonal changes in the brains of birds that account for their singing, part of the male mating behavior. In the Nov. 10 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience they report that birds in high latitudes are driven to sing by seasonal changes in the length of the day, which causes changes in the song-control nuclei of the brain. However, in the tropics, where the day length does not vary much by season, the propensity for birds to sing still changes, but is driven by environmental cues that vary by locale -- a fact that could mean those birds are more susceptible to global warming than birds in higher latitudes. Correct timing of breeding is necessary for reproductive success, Moore said. Research by others has shown that testosterone is the main physiological cue regulating seasonal changes in the neural song-control system. Seasonal changes in the song-control system have been demonstrated by other scientists in all northern latitude species that have been investigated. But no one had researched whether seasonal changes occurred in the brains of birds in tropical areas where day-length changes are minimal. "We think it's probably still testosterone that causes tropical birds to sing, but that the environmental cue is different," Moore said. "Our observations of seasonal brain plasticity in these tropical birds demonstrate that the vertebrate brain is extremely flexible and sensitive to diverse environmental cues that can time seasonal reproductive physiology and behavior," they wrote. While it is not yet known what environmental cues signal breeding time, Moore hypothesizes that it could be rainfall, temperature, or food availability -- or all these cues.


Philadelphia Zoo Budget Crunch
November 13, 2004 www.centredaily.com

The Philadelphia Zoo may cut staff and raise admission prices to address a $4 million budget gap. Zoo officials expect to target administrative jobs rather than people who care for the zoo's 1,600 animals, president Alexander L. Hoskins said. The Fairmount Park attraction now employs about 225 people. Officials may also raise the admission price, which is now $12.95 for children and $15.95 for adults in high season, by a modest amount. The zoo, which opened in 1874, has grown rapidly in recent years. Work started last month on Big Cat Falls, a $20 million home for lions, leopards and tigers. New bird and elephant exhibits, along with a children's zoo, are also planned. Attendance has been strong, with more than 1.2 million visitors this year, up 25,000 from last year, officials said. A planned $80 million capital campaign has gone slowly, however, with the current tally at $53 million, they said


Phoenix Zoo Monkey Walk
Nov. 13, 2004 www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles

Patrons can now get up close and personal with the Phoenix Zoo's newest inhabitants. The new Monkey Village exhibit hosts its grand opening today after nearly a year of construction on the 10,000-square-foot enclosed habitat for the squirrel monkeys.
The habitat is based on a primate park in Holland and is the only one of its kind in the United States, said Aimee Yamamori, a spokeswoman for the zoo. "They (patrons) can walk down the trail and into the exhibit environment," Yamamori said. "There are no barriers, other than a rope, between the trail and the actual exhibit." This means the monkeys can come right up to the patrons. "When I first went into the exhibit, I thought they (the monkeys) would have more apprehension to having people that close," she said. "But they weren't; they were more curious than anything else. One is pregnant and has an interest in walking across people's feet." She said zookeepers aren't hand-feeding the monkeys, in order to avoid the monkeys associating people with food. Food and beverages are prohibited in the exhibit so the animals continue to behave as naturally as possible. "We've heard a lot of people are excited about it," Yamamori said. "I think it will be a lot of word of mouth once people come and experience it." She said it may be hard for people to imagine what the exhibit is like without seeing it, but she predicts it will become a patron favorite.


Black Rhino Born at Sedgwick Zoo
November 13, 2004 www.kansascity.com

Visitors to the Sedgwick County Zoo were introduced to Kati Rain, a female rhinoceros calf Saturday. The rhino is part of a rare breed. Only 72 black rhinoceroses exist in North America, said Christan Baumer, a marketing and public relations manager at the zoo. There are fewer than 2,000 worldwide. Kati Rain and her mother, 6-year-old BiBi, came to Kansas from a Japanese zoo three years ago. They are in the zoo's Veldt building, also home to elephants and giraffes. The newborn rhino was born November 5 and now weighs about 60 pounds


Ross Park Zoo May Lose Accreditation
November 14, 2004 www.pressconnects.com

In the next few weeks, the AZA will send inspectors to visit and evaluate Ross Park, the nation's fifth-oldest zoo. At a time when the association has made its accreditation process more rigorous, Ross Park is in the midst of staffing turmoil, deteriorating upkeep and deep long-term financial uncertainty, and one of the zoo's major fund-raising organizations said it has been alienated by the board. If Ross Park is not re-accredited, that doesn't mean the zoo must be shuttered. But it probably would no longer house endangered species or have access to as much funding. Many of Ross Park's most interesting animals -- including the Amur leopards, red wolves and tigers -- would be sent to other U.S. zoos that meet the standards to take care of endangered species. Jarod Miller, the zoo's executive director since March, acknowledges that the zoo's accreditation is in doubt. Even if the AZA does approve the application, the zoo will need annual increases in funding from Broome County for the zoo to survive. AZA's accreditation standards require that a zoo must prove that it has enough knowledgeable, experienced staff. Its facilities must be modern and safe. It must establish that it has funding to operate and thrive for at least five years.


Koala Death at Taipei Zoo
November 14, 2004 www.taipeitimes.com/News

Harley the koala is dead. His passing was given widespread media coverage in what seemingly is a matter of national mourning. The Taipei Zoo has had to shoulder responsibility for having delayed the announcement of his passing, and Taipei City officials must also share that responsibility for failing in their supervisory duties. Animal death is normal. Ideally, they would live in the wild, where the matter of dying is decided by nature itself. But since society needs its zoos and aquariums, and accepts turning wild animals into pets, their lives take place before our eyes. The main point isn't Harley's death, but whether it was caused by human neglect. With specialists and veterinarians around all along, how could this be the case? Should the zoo director be blamed for delaying the announcement of Harley's death and the funeral? Honesty should of course be the approach of any official. I don't know what law or regulations were violated by delaying the announcement. But since the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, I do know that it is one of the world's largest and most influential non-governmental organizations..


Buffalo Zoo Contingency plan
November 14, 2004 www.buffalonews.com/editorial

Sometime this week, Buffalo Zoo President Donna M. Fernandes will meet with her staff to decide which animals must be shipped out of town if the zoo loses its $1.4 million subsidy from Erie County. County Executive Joel A. Giambra has warned that all discretionary funding will be eliminated from the proposed budget he is due to submit Dec. 10 unless county and state legislators add 1 percentage point to the sales tax. But contingency plans for the zoo's animals must be made before then, Fernandes said. The zoo, which would be forced to lay off half its employees if Giambra's so-called "red budget" is adopted, cannot wait to see how many keepers will remain on the payroll Jan. 1 before finding new homes for many specimens, she said. The promise of a $70 million makeover saved the zoo's accreditation and has led to an upswing in memberships and attendance. "It's frustrating," Fernandes said. "Revenues are up, attendance is up." Operating expenses, meanwhile, have been cut to the bone. The zoo is making do with seven fewer employees than in 2002, and its annual expenses have risen just $18,000 since then."Our reward is being told, "Half of you must go,' " she said. "I can't imagine that if a for-profit business showed improvement in all areas it would be facing layoffs." The zoo's $1.4 million was the largest of $5.6 million in county operating subsidies distributed to about 50 cultural organizations this year. The county Cultural Resources Advisory Board recommended a similar amount for the zoo next year, followed by $998,000 for the Buffalo Museum of Science and $710,000 for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.


Ruby back at LA Zoo
November 14, 2004 www.dailynews.com

Ruby the elephant traveled 40 hours by truck to return to the Los Angeles Zoo after a failed attempt to get her settled at a Tennessee zoo, but it could be two years before the public can see her. Zoo officials hope to have a new elephant habitat built by the end of 2006. Until then, the 43-year-old African elephant is expected to be kept in half of an 8,300-square-foot compound in a private area. Ruby was moved to the Knoxville Zoo in May 2003 to be an "auntie" in the African elephant breeding program there. But Ruby acted aggressively toward the other female elephants and never fit in. Animal-rights activists said Ruby was unhappy about being separated from Gita, an Asian elephant and her longtime friend at the L.A. Zoo. L.A. Mayor James Hahn gave orders in July for city-owned Ruby to be returned to Los Angeles. She will be quarantined for 30 days and will eventually be reintroduced to Gita, on exhibit in Los Angeles.


Minnesota Dolphin goes to Chicago
November 15, 2004 wcco.com/localnews 

DJ, an eight-year-old dolphin left the Minnesota Zoo yesterday for his new home in Chicago. DJ's trainers are hoping the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is able to strike up a friendship with another male dolphin at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. They're also hoping he'll be able to sow his wild oats with female dolphins at the zoo. Moving a 430-pound marine mammal is no easy maneuver. It took an army of helpers, heavy machinery -- and a few tears, as trainers who've known DJ his whole life said their goodbyes.


Palm Beach Zoo Re-opens
November 15, 2004 www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news

After 10 weeks of recovery efforts following hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, the Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park is scheduled to reopen at 9 a.m. Monday. Public support in the form of more than 600 volunteers and business assistance has "contributed greatly to the speed with which the reopening is taking place," zoo officials said in a news release. Volunteers and businesses from Palm Beach, Martin, Miami-Dade and Broward counties assisted in the recovery. The animals fared well throughout both storms and their habitats have been restored to their normal state. Donations continue to be accepted through the main office, 1301 Summit Blvd. This year, the park will be closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Grizzly Bear Exhibit Challenges
November 15, 2004 www.sfgate.com

Currently, 37 male and 33 female grizzlies reside in 35 North American zoos accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. They live an average of 30 years in captivity and 25 in the wild. Most zoos no longer breed grizzlies. They are too hard to place elsewhere and too difficult to maintain humanely, being both brilliant and destructive. The San Francisco Zoo is preparing for Wednesday's media debut of two orphaned Grizzly bear sisters from Montana. "Grizzly bears are designed to tear up their environment," said John Aikin, curator of planning and design at the zoo. "One of the challenges is to present them with lots of opportunities to do what bears do best -- which is rip things, scratch things, pull things up and dig." The 18-month-old grizzlies, still unnamed, have been quarantined at the zoo since Oct. 10, a month after being captured by Montana wildlife officials for ransacking a ranch. The sisters were spared death when the zoo took them in. Initially destined to inhabit a 5,000-square-foot enclosure, the grizzlies will instead be getting twice as much real estate. Their first address will be the zoo's central bear grotto -- they'll have two adjoining concrete enclosures, plus indoor dens. Zoo officials will then decide whether to renovate the grottos -- which already have wood chips, a pool and dirt to dig in -- or add a naturalistic "playpen" in an undeveloped area next door that would provide a total of 15, 000 square feet and be ready by mid-2005. It all depends on what they can get for $270,050 -- the amount of money the San Francisco Zoo is likely to get by the end of the year from a state fund earmarked for capital projects at zoos. Meanwhile, zoo director Manuel Mollinedo envisions a permanent habitat much like the one in the Woodland Park Zoo's award-winning Northern Trail exhibit, which provides underwater views of the bears in their pool. Aikin said the cost of such a project would range from $4 million to $7 million and would be funded by private gifts, public bonds or private bonds. He hopes ground will be broken in three to 10 years.


Oakland Zoo Seeks Pandas
November 15, 2004 www.contracostatimes.com

Officials of the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center in southwest China, will visit the Oakland Zoo in December to determine whether or not it's an appropriate environment for the animals, according to Rosalee Brown, the zoo's marketing director. Panda fever originated with Oakland City Councilman Henry Chang, a hills resident and businessman, who pursued a relationship with the staff at the Chengdu center. Currently, the Oakland Zoo has a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese center, not an official contract, stating that the zoo will pay $1.2 million per year for 10 years to house the pandas. To get there, the zoo's next steps are to raise money for the project -- about $8 million -- which will come exclusively from private donors, according to Willie Yee, a policy analyst for Chang.


Impact of global warming on bird populations
November 16, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Evidence for the impact of global warming on the long-term population dynamics of common birds by Dr R Julliard, Dr F Jiguet and Dr D Couvet We compared common birds' productivity (proportion of juveniles from standardised samples for 32 species, totalling over 50,000 captured individuals within 60 sites spread over France) between spring 2003, an exceptionally warm spring in France, and previous years. Productivity in 2003 was relatively low for already declining species while it was relatively good for increasing species. This adds evidences that climate warming plays a key role in the long term dynamics of even the commonest species. This further suggests that ability to reproduce in warmer and warmer conditions is a key component of species sensitivity to climate change. These findings were published in The Proceedings of The Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering


Chester Zoo Receives Environment Award
November 16, 2004 iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk

CHESTER has become the first UK zoo to be given an international award for its commitment to the environment. To qualify for the award, new animal enclosures at the zoo have been specifically designed to be environmentally sensitive and energy efficient. Fair trade products are on sale, and educational material surrounding animal enclosures promotes green messages to visitors. One of the zoo's initiatives includes working alongside Cheshire County Council to develop new ideas for improving travel for zoo staff and visitors, and where possible, local suppliers are used to provide environmentally friendly building materials. The zoo has now been awarded the ISO 14001 which is an internationally recognised standard for companies that show a commitment to being environmentally aware and responsible. To qualify, organisations must take action on key environmental issues such as raw material consumption, energy use, emissions, waste and transport. Zoo director Gordon McGregor Reid said: "The whole ethos of the zoo is to support and promote conservation and sustainability." As part of a campaign Chester Zoo is turning mobile phones and inkjet cartridges into cash by recycling them for the care and conservation of animals and endangered species. To donate call the zoo's Development Office on 01244 650265.


Zoo Keeper Game to Nintendo DS
11/16/04 www.dailygame.net/news

Ignition Entertainment announced today that it'll be bringing the puzzle game Zoo Keeper to Nintendo DS handheld systems everywhere in North America and Europe. The game is one of the first Japanese launch titles for Nintendo's new handheld system. Using the Touch Screen, players will tap the Nintendo DS stylus to swap the positions of animals on the screen as they try to create lines of three or more of the same type. Lined-up animals are then "captured," allowing other animals to fall into their place. Players will also be able to use the DS' wireless connectivity to play two-player games. So what's the neat part of all that? Those multiplayer games will only require one Zoo Keeper game card. Zoo Keeper will be available in late December for $39.99.


Fight to save Caribbean Gardens
November 16, 2004 www.nbc-2.com/articles

On November 2nd, seventy-three percent of Collier County residents voted to save Caribbean Gardens. Tuesday, Collier County Commissioners approved moving forward with a plan to acquire Caribbean Garden's land, but the fight to save the zoo is far from over. "We will use the Trust for Public Lands as a mediator to negotiate the acquisition of the Caribbean Gardens property and all the Fleishman property surrounding Caribbean Gardens," said Collier County Commissioner Fred Coyle. Even though the non-profit will help the commission, Coyle says there are still negotiations necessary. The Fleischmann family, who currently owns Caribbean Gardens, isn't giving officials any clues as to whether they will give up the land for that price, but commissioners are hopeful. "I think it's in everyone's best interest to sit down at the table to convey this property to Collier County at a fair and reasonable price," said Coyle. Officials say $40 million isn't enough, they'll then turn to other private donors for help. Commissioners say it could be this summer before they have a final resolution.


Legal Group Challenges Endangered Species Law
November 16, 2004 www.marinij.com

A conservative legal group threatened to sue the federal government yesterday over its plans to protect four dozen endangered species in California ranging from peninsular bighorn sheep to the tiny robust spineflower. The Pacific Legal Foundation notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service that it would file suit in 60 days, claiming the agencies failed to meet requirements of the Endangered Species Act when they set out to protect animal and plant species. Advance notice is required before filing endangered species lawsuits. Based on a favorable ruling in U.S. District Court in Fresno that overturned habitat protection for the Alameda whipsnake last year, the foundation said the agencies underestimated the economic impact of protection and didn't properly follow the rules to protect habitat. The legal foundation, representing business groups, farmers and developers in the case, said its lawsuit would ultimately bring back jeopardized plants and animals, a claim dismissed by environmentalists. The Fish and Wildlife Service has blamed litigation for creating a backlog of petitions to protect other species and for diverting funds that could be used for other protection efforts. "Only the Pacific Legal Foundation is cynical enough to argue that taking away habitat protection will help endangered species," said Kieran Suckling, of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has appealed the whipsnake case. "This lawsuit is all about paving California."


PETA attacks Alaska Zoo
November 16, 2004 www.adn.com/alaska

A national animal-welfare group pushed its efforts to move Alaska's only elephant to the Lower 48 further today with a letter to federal authorities alleging physical abuse by the Alaska Zoo. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has long wanted Alaska's Maggie to be with other pachyderms and in a warmer climate, saying it is cruel to keep her in Anchorage. But the latest allegations question whether zookeepers are violating the Animal Welfare Act. The letter to the United States Department of Agriculture says there are three wounds above Maggie's right eye, a laceration on her forehead, and several raw open wounds on both sides of her face near her eyes. A video of the elephant, filmed in late October, accompanied the letter.  "Tex" Edwards, zoo director, said, "People who make such wild and unsubstantiated accusations about someone else without even checking to see if it's true don't deserve to have 'ethical' in their name." Edwards acknowledged Maggie has some sores on her head. But he explained that the elephant had been brushing against a new training wall. "It seemed to be just perfect for her to scratch," he said. "She loved to get up against it and just rub." When the zoo realized what the animal was doing, he said, it smoothed out the rough surfaces and the scratching sores have stopped, he said. Edwards saw the video on PETA's Web site, SaveWildElephants.com. He said PETA may also be seeing Maggie's musk glands and confusing them with sores. In its letter, PETA said several of the injuries could have been caused by a bull hook, a steel-tipped implement used by circus trainers and some zookeepers. Edwards denies that. The zoo has such a hook but does not regularly use it, he said.


Actress criticizes Lincoln Park Zoo
November 17, 2004 www.suntimes.com

Lincoln Park Zoo officials say they don't intend to send their elephants to a Tennessee animal sanctuary after a plea to Chicago City Council members from actress Gillian Anderson. Anderson is a Chicago native and star of the television show "X-Files." She wrote to Mayor Richard Daley and all 50 members of the City Council asking them to pass a resolution to send the zoo's two elephants to a sanctuary in a warmer climate. Zoo officials said yesterday that the recent death of an elephant named Tatima from tuberculosis didn't have anything to do with the climate. They say the elephants receive the best possible care. Anderson was spurred to write the letter, hoping to prevent the two pachyderms from meeting the fate of Tatima, another elephant at the zoo that died recently of tuberculosis. All three animals were shipped to Lincoln Park from the San Diego Wild Animal Park in order to make room for some new, younger elephants arriving from Africa. Daley's office didn't respond to a request for comment.


Maryland battles the nutria
November 17, 2004 www.msnbc.msn.com

Nutria are blamed for thousands of acres of vanished wetland across the state of Maryland and have now been eliminated from their former stronghold in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. All it took was two years, $2 million and 15 trappers working in chest-deep muck here on the Eastern Shore. In all, about 8,300 nutria were killed during the eradication, which officials said was planned like a military campaign, using Global Positioning System equipment. Although nutria remain in the state, Maryland is being lauded as a rare success story in the government's fight against the pest, which has colonized states from the Chesapeake Bay to Oregon."We proved it can be done," said Jonathan McKnight, an official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.


Nearly 16,000 species face extinction
November 17, 2004 www.voanews.com/english

The World Conservation Union Conference, the world's largest conservation group has opened a week-long meeting in Bangkok Wednesday. The organization’s newly released Red List of Endangered Species has nearly 16,000 plants and animals listed. Indonesia, China and Brazil have the most threatened species. The report says one in every four mammals and one in every eight birds are facing a high risk of extinction in the near future. While one in three amphibians and almost half of all tortoises and fresh water turtles are threatened. In the last 500 years some 844 species have died out. Director Achim Steiner said, "The evidence presented in this Red List should make people worried about the future viability of many of the ecosystems on which we depend," he said. Experts attribute the problem to climate change and destruction of natural habitats by human encroachment. The union's report says half of the world's wetlands have been destroyed over the last 100 years and more than a quarter of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed. This 8-day congress - which brings together scientists, activists and government officials from 181 countries - is debating how best to address these problems over the next fours years.


Rare Gibbons Discovered in Vietnam
November 17, 2004  vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn

HA NOI — An increasing number of endangered black gibbons, or Nomascus naustus, have been found in the northern Cao Bang province’s Ngoc Khe-Phong Nam mountainous forests. According to the most recent survey conducted by the Primate Conservation Programme and the Trung Khanh District Rangers Department, the gibbon population increased by 24 over the number counted in 2002 the total now is 37 and the animals currently live in three herds. Experts attribute the population increase to district authorities’ and rangers’ preservation efforts. The survey also found the endangered primate species Macaca arctoides, Macaca mulatta and Macaca assamensis, as well as the misk-deer Moschus berezovskii, in the Ngoc Khe-Phong Nam forests. In the meantime, four plant species listed in the Viet Nam Red Book, Anolectoclilus setaceus, Garcinia fragecoides, Melianthus suavis and Rauvolfia verticillata, have been found in the central Quang Tri Province’s Dak Rong Nature Reserve. According to the Quang Tri Provincial rangers’ department, the Dak Rong Nature Reserve is now home to 677 flora species from some 118 plant families.


Lowry Park Zoo admission increase
November 17, 2004 www.sptimes.com

Lowry Park Zoo officials plan to ask the Tampa City Council to approve a 30 percent hike in adult admission prices, with similar increases for seniors and children. Under the proposal, the adult admission price would rise from $11.50 to $14.95. Seniors prices would increase from $10.50 to $13.95 and children's admission would cost $10.50 rather than $7.95. Spokeswoman Heather Sitton said "Because we're a nonprofit organization, we have to be financially responsible to make sure the money we're bringing in is going to be enough to operate on." She mentioned an expansion of the Safari Africa exhibit slated to open in 2005, a new program for at-risk teens and a new kindergarten program as examples of the zoo's growth. The hectic hurricane season spoiled special events at the zoo and caused it to be closed on typically busy weekends, such as Labor Day. Councilwoman Mary Alvarez said the city has pledged $350,000 during the coming year. Other funds come primarily from admissions, programs and private sponsorships.


Bronx Zoo’s high-tech wildlife counts
November 17, 2004 www.newswise.com/articles

Scientists with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have recently been counting their zoo animals from a lofty perch: namely, outer space. Using high-tech cameras fixed to an orbiting satellite 280 miles overhead, a WCS scientific team tallied some of the zoo’s own animal collection to see if satellites can help count wildlife populations in remote locations throughout the world. The WCS team is currently analyzing high-tech maps produced by the satellite, which orbited the zoo last Wednesday, Nov. 10th. So far, everything from giraffes to Thomson’s gazelles have been spotted with startling clarity. If the technology proves accurate, WCS is hopeful that it can be used to monitor endangered wildlife populations that live in hard-to-reach locations. Dr. Eric Sanderson, a WCS landscape ecologist is managing the study said, "This experiment is another powerful example of how WCS can use its world-class zoos in New York City to help save wildlife living half a world away," said Richard L. Lattis, General Director of WCS's zoos and aquarium. The satellite, called Quickbird, is owned by DigitalGlobe, a private company. WCS plans to use similar imagery to count wildlife in exotic locations, including elephants and giraffes in Tanzania, flamingos in South America, and elk, bison and antelope in Wyoming. WCS scientists will analyze those images as well to compare counts of wildlife living in other wild places. The project was funded in part by a grant from NASA. According to members of Dr. Sanderson’s team, the detail of the images taken from so far away has been particularly impressive. "We’re counting individual gazelles in the zoo’s African Plains exhibit from a satellite 280 miles up," said Dr. Scott Bergen. "That’s like standing on top of the Empire State Building and spotting a deer in Maine." WCS, the Bronx Zoo’s parent organization, currently operates more that 350 field conservation projects in 54 countries around the world.


Oregon Zoo’s Condor Breeding Program
November 17, 2004  www.oregonlive.com/science/oregonian

Last Nov. 19, Oregon Zoo keepers spread wood shavings over cold, concrete floors and cranked up propane heaters inside a drafty barn in rural Clackamas County for the first four residents of the zoo's new breeding operation. The birds arrived from balmy Los Angeles that morning, smack in the middle of a surprise Portland snowstorm. Eight more condors moved in the next day from the L.A. and San Diego zoos, and from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. Some were established pairs. Others met for the first time in Oregon, the nation's fourth condor breeding operation. The biggest conservation project in the zoo's history, it comes with a $3 million price tag -- one for which the zoo and its foundation still are raising money. Such projects elsewhere have been astounding successes: As of Nov. 1, the population stands at 246 birds. Of those, 135 are in captivity, including 13 at the Oregon Zoo breeding facility. Altogether, 111 California condors fly free in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico. Last month, for the first time in 22 years, a condor chick born in the wild in California left the nest, soaring over Ventura County near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, where the chick hatched April 9. Condor watchers expect two more wild chicks could fledge soon in Arizona.


Black bears requested for Seneca Park
November 17, 2004 www.democratandchronicle.com

Come April, visitors to the Seneca Park Zoo should be able to see two or three young black bears. The zoo's Visiting Animal Program is now 8 years old. A proposal is now before the County Legislature to authorize spending up to $22,000 to get the bears from International Animal Exchange, based in Ferndale, Michigan for a stay beginning in April and lasting through October. A vote is expected next month. The decision to try to get black bears was made by a committee of zoo and Seneca Park Zoo Society officials. Unlike some previous visitors, such as Anubis baboons and lions, black bears can be found in the wild in New York and "part of New York's heritage," said John Opezio, big game section leader for the state Department of Environment Conservation. A request was made for the bears to be between 1 and 3 years old. Black bears this age are generally between 100 and 300 pounds and about 30 inches high, on all fours, said Opezio. The bears would be housed in the visiting animal area, behind a 12-foot fence.


Baby Elephant Born at Calgary Zoo
November 17, 2004 www.cfcn.ca

Just one day after celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Calgary Zoo has even more to celebrate. The 14-year-old Asian elephant, Maharani, gave birth to a female calf at 11:42 Tuesday night. Zoo volunteers have been waiting for the birth since October. Maharani and her baby will be closely observed for signs of nursing and bonding over the next few days. Zookeepers are thrilled about the new baby elephant, which doesn't have a name yet. The zoo will inform visitors when they will be able to see the baby, but for now the tropical Eurasia building is closed until further notice.


Rebuilding Baghdad Zoo
November 17, 2004 www.gazette.com

Farah Murrani and Brendan Whittington-Jones have traveled to Colorado Springs to learn how to rebuild a 20-acre pocket of Iraq’s war-torn capital. The task they face is monumental — restoring the Baghdad Zoo nearly from scratch. Home to 400 animals before the Iraq war began in 2003, thieves and vandals destroyed enough enclosures and stole so many animals that only 12 remained when the looting ended. "Looters were the biggest disaster for the zoo," said Whittington-Jones, 27, director of a South African game reserve and a volunteer at the Baghdad Zoo. "The looters came and really stripped everything bare." The pair have been in Colorado Springs since early October for what will be a four-month crash course at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Murrani, 28, a Baghdad native and small-animal veterinarian before the war, was drawn to the restoration effort after seeing the looting at the zoo. Whittington-Jones traveled to Iraq in May 2003 from Thula Thula Game Reserve near Durban, South Africa, after watching stories on television. They forged a friendship with Army Reserve veterinarian Maj. Sam Berringer of Monument, who told them about his hometown zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, as they struggled to bring modern management and animal care to the Baghdad Zoo. E-mails and phone calls brought an invitation for the two to spend four months working alongside Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff. "‘Where do you draw the blood on a bear?’ That was one of the first things she asked me," Bowman said. "We’re trying to open and expand her knowledge base." Murrani has also taught Bowman a lesson. "To me, it’s just been a realization of how lucky we are over here," Bowman said. "Hearing her challenges and what she’s had to overcome to help these animals, we realize we’re very, very lucky."


2004 IUCN Red List released
November 17, 2004 news.yahoo.com

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) unveiled its 2004 "Red List" of endangered species on Wednesday, saying the roll-call of animals threatened with extinction is growing faster than ever before. The full IUCN Red List is available on the Internet at www.iucnredlist.org Following are some salient facts from the list and the IUCN's accompanying Global Species Assessment.

-- Of the 15,589 species on the list of threatened species, 7,266 are animals and 8,323 are plants or lichen.

-- Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Mexico hold particularly large numbers of threatened species.

-- Most threatened birds, mammals and amphibians are found in the tropical areas of Central and South America, Africa south of the Sahara, and tropical South and Southeast Asia.

-- A total of 784 extinctions have been documented since AD 1500, when accurate historical and scientific records on species started. This figure has risen from 766 documented extinctions by 2000.

-- While the vast majority of extinctions since AD 1500 have occurred on islands, over the past 20 years continental extinctions have become as common as island extinctions.

-- Although estimates vary greatly, current extinction rates are at least one hundred to a thousand times higher than "background," or "natural," rates.

-- Humans have been the main cause of extinction and continue to be the principle threat to species at risk of extinction.

-- Habitat loss, introduced species, and over-exploitation are the main threats, with human-induced climate change becoming an increasingly significant problem.


Alligators, Crocodiles, Gharials and Caimans
November 17, 2004 www.nytimes.com

Daphne Soares is a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, has worked with many species of Crocodylia, the reptilian order that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. She specializes in neuroethology – the neural underpinnings of animal behavior and has lately discovered a kind of sixth sense unique to crocodilians, which are often referred to generically as crocodiles. She has determined that the mysterious little bumps found around the jaws of some crocodile species and across the entire bodies of others, which naturalists had long observed but never before understood, are sensory organs exquisitely suited to the demands of a semisubmerged ambush predator. The pigmented nodules encase bundles of nerve fibers that respond to the slightest disturbance in surface water and thus allow a crocodile to detect the signature of a potential meal. The discovery of a novel sensory system is just one of a host of new findings about the prowess and performance of an impressively ancient and resilient clan. "Ancestral crocodiles had basically the same body plan we see today," said Perran Ross, a crocodile specialist and professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida.


Iraq Zoo Tiger Incident Examined
November 18, 2004 www.tucsoncitizen.com David Armstrong, Wall Street Journal

Last year, U.S. Army Sgt. Keith Mitchell became an international poster boy for the misbehavior of U.S. troops in Iraq. In a bizarre incident, Sgt. Mitchell's right arm was severely mauled by a male Bengal tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. To save him, another soldier shot and killed the caged animal. Reports that the soldiers were drunk and tried to feed the tiger while roaming the zoo grounds after hours provoked world-wide outrage. "What is so unexpected about one drunken U.S. soldier killing a zoo tiger when his commander-in-chief, who once had a drinking problem, commanded the bombing of Iraq, killing and maiming thousands?" a Malaysian newspaper said. The New Yorker magazine cited the tiger-shooting by "drunk" soldiers as an example of "the stupidity and carelessness" of the U.S. occupation. The U.S. Army apologized to zoo personnel and Mitchell was demoted. The Army launched multiple investigations of the incident. Now, a year later, Sgt. Mitchell has been at least partly exonerated. The military concluded he was not drunk and that he was on zoo premises with the permission of superiors as part of a unit barbecue. He was found in violation of an Army order against consuming alcohol in Iraq. But his rank recently was restored after a three-month probationary period.

The Army report on the incident says two soldiers ran to the area after hearing screams for help. They found Sgt. Mitchell on a walkway between the tiger cage's inner and outer fences, with his arm in the tiger's mouth. "How Mitchell got his arm in the cage and thus into the tiger's jaws is unknown," says the Army report. Sgt. Mitchell declined to be interviewed in the initial Army probe. All agree that one soldier fired at the tiger but missed. As the animal continued to attack, another fired a pistol and hit the tiger in the shoulder. The animal let go of Sgt. Mitchell and retreated to the back of the enclosure. The tiger later died of internal bleeding. The attack broke Sgt. Mitchell's arm above the elbow, severed tendons and arteries, severely damaged his biceps, and tore off his middle finger. Despite more than 20 operations, he still can't use his right arm, which hangs awkwardly at his side. The four remaining fingers on his right hand are gnarled, and he is unable to make a fist. Since December, the Army has conducted two separate investigations to determine whether Sgt. Mitchell's injury was "in the line of duty" or the result of his own recklessness. A finding that he was drunk would have diminished his medical and disability benefits. Investigations found that there was no evidence that alcohol was a contributing factor in the incident. Sgt. Mitchell remains on active duty but spends most of his time in occupational therapy and in surgery.


New BirdLife Report
November 18, 2004 news.yahoo.com

Birdlife Asia estimates that the sprawling southeast Asian archipelago is home to more than a third of Asia's endangered avian species, the highest concentration in the region. "Bird species across the Asian region are in serious trouble," said Richard Grimmett, the head of Birdlife Asia. "Of the 332 species of birds that are endangered in Asia, Indonesia alone has some 117 species." Speaking at a press briefing during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Grimmett said the world could not afford to lose Indonesia's unique ecosystem. Conservationists estimate that species like the sky-blue Caerulean Paradise-flycatcher and the Sangihe Shrike-thrush, are unique to the tropical islands of southeast Asia and cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Grimmett said that while few ordinary people would lament the passing of the Sangihe Shrike-thrush, the decline of even the smallest of bird species suggested the wider environment is in trouble.


Zoo Workers Infected with Animal Virus?
November 18, 2004 www.idsociety.org

Evidence of exposure to a monkey virus possibly related to cancer has been found in the blood of North American zoo workers, according to a study in the December 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online. The virus, a polyomavirus known as simian virus 40 (SV40), has long been a subject of public health concern, in part because it has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and some investigators have reported SV40 DNA in human tumors. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, studied 254 zoo workers, 109 of whom handled primates extensively and the remainder not at all. An antibody assay showed that SV40 reactivity was more common among primate workers (23 percent) than among the other workers (10 percent). These low rates, which suggested absence of ongoing SV40 replication, contrasted with assay results showing 85 percent and 56 percent reactivity, respectively, for two other polyomaviruses, BK and JC, which are highly prevalent in humans and establish lifelong infection. The study was reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.


Inconclusive BSE Test
November 18, 2004 www.usda.gov/wps

An inconclusive BSE test result has been received by the USDA. The inconclusive result does not mean that another case of BSE has been found in this country. Inconclusive results are a normal component of screening tests, which are designed to be extremely sensitive so they will detect any sample that could possibly be positive. Tissue samples are now being sent to USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories-the national BSE reference lab-which will run confirmatory testing. APHIS has begun internal steps to begin initial tracebacks, if further testing were to return a positive result. However, it is important to note, that this animal did not enter the food or feed chain. Confirmatory results are expected back from NVSL within the next 4 to 7 days. If the test comes back positive for BSE, we will provide additional information about the animal and its origin. USDA remains confident in the safety of the U.S. beef supply. Our ban on specified risk materials from the human food chain provides the protection to public health, should another case of BSE ever be detected in the United States.


USFWS to protect vernal pools
Nobember 18, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a draft strategy for voluntary cooperation with landowners to recover 20 threatened or endangered species of plants and animals that occur within seasonal wetlands throughout California and southern Oregon. Click here for frequently asked questions. "The Vernal Pool Ecosystem Recovery Plan will be a cooperative effort to partner with landowners in an entirely voluntary effort to restore vernal pools," said Steve Thompson, manager of the Service?s California-Nevada Operations. "The plan will help restore these imperiled species, while enabling landowners to maintain compatible activities on their land. "Partnerships with private landowners are the key to successful recovery of vernal pool species," Thompson added. "This plan will help us direct federal funding to landowners for protection and restoration of these species, and enable landowners to protect their own interests with conservation agreements. It should foster a win-win environment for both vernal pool species and landowners." This draft recovery plan covers 33 species of plants and animals that occur exclusively or primarily within vernal pools or swales in California and southern Oregon. The 20 federally listed species include 10 endangered plants, five threatened plants, three endangered animals, and two threatened animals. The draft plan also outlines actions to conserve 13 other "species of concern." The plan can be viewed or downloaded at pacific.fws.gov/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/vernal_pool/index.html  A 120-day public comment period begins today, and the Service will schedule workshops during this period. The final Recovery Plan is expected to be completed late in 2005.


Northern Spotted Owl Still Threatened
November 18, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

After completing a formal 5-year status review of the northern spotted owl, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the species continues to warrant the protection of the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. On the positive side, the risks faced by the species when it was first listed, such as habitat loss on federal lands, have been reduced due to the success of the Northwest Forest Plan and other management actions. On the negative side, the species' overall population in Washington, Oregon and California continues to decline and new potential threats have emerged that need to be studied further, including fire, competition from barred owls, and West Nile Disease. The 5-year review considered all information that has become available since the original listing of the northern spotted owl, such as: population and demographic trend data; genetics; species competition; habitat condition; adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and management and conservation planning information. The review assessed: (a) whether new information suggests that the species' population is increasing, declining or stable; (b) whether existing threats are increasing, stable, reduced or eliminated; (c) if there are any new threats; and (d) if new information or analysis calls into question any of the conclusions in the original listing determination as to the species' status.


Tidewater Goby Recovery Plan
November 18, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is accepting public comments on a draft recovery plan for the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi), a small Federally endangered fish that lives in estuaries and lagoons along the California coast from Del Norte to northern San Diego counties. The recovery plan describes the tidewater goby’s status and current management, recovery objectives and criteria, and actions needed to downlist the species and remove it from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. The grayish-brown tidewater goby, listed as an endangered species in 1994, lost a significant portion of its habitat during the past 150 years to coastal development. Copies of the recovery plan can be downloaded from the Ventura Fish and Wildlife web site at: ventura.fws.gov  or it can be viewed at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at the above address; the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad; and, the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata. Comments on the draft recovery plan will be accepted until January 18, 2005. and can be sent to: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road; Suite B; Ventura, Calif. 93003.


Habitat Designated for California tiger salamander
November 18, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

In response to a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Center and the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it has designated 11,180 acres as critical habitat for the Federally threatened California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in Santa Barbara County. Most of the critical habitat acreage is privately-owned, although small amounts of land are owned by Santa Barbara County. In this final action, the Service excluded 2,740 acres from the 13,920 acres that were proposed as critical habitat in January 2004 because landowners worked cooperatively to develop conservation strategies protecting the salamander and its habitat. More precise mapping also reduced acreage from the original proposal.

The California tiger salamander is large, stocky and terrestrial. It has small eyes and a broad, rounded snout. The California tiger salamander inhabits low-elevation vernal pools and seasonal ponds and associated grassland, oak savannah, and coastal scrub plant communities of the Santa Maria, Los Alamos, and Santa Rita valleys in northwestern Santa Barbara County. Although California tiger salamanders are adapted to natural vernal pools and ponds, they now frequently use ephemeral and permanent ponds, including stock ponds. California tiger salamanders spend the majority of their lives in upland habitats in the burrows of California ground squirrels and Botta’s pocket gophers. The Santa Barbara County Distinct Population Segment (DPS) was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. In August 2004, the Service listed the central population as threatened, re-evaluated the Santa Barbara County and Sonoma County populations, removed these populations as separate DPS? and as a result listed the entire California tiger salamander species as threatened. The primary threats to the species are habitat loss and predation by non-native species.

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands. In 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Service has found that the designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while preventing the Service from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits. In almost all cases, recovery of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative partnerships, not regulatory measures such as critical habitat. Habitat is also protected through cooperative measures under the Endangered Species Act including Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, Candidate Conservation Agreements and state programs. In addition, voluntary partnership programs such as the Service?s Private Stewardship Grants and Partners for Fish and Wildlife program also restore habitat. Habitat for endangered species is provided on many national wildlife refuges, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife management areas.

A copy of the critical habitat rule can be downloaded from: ventura.fws.gov/


New Great Ape Fossil from Spain
November 18, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

A new ape species from Spain called Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, or its close relative, may have been the last common ancestor to all living great apes, including humans, researchers say. The Spanish paleontology team describes its fossil find in the 19 November issue of the journal Science. Like other great apes, Pierolapithecus had a stiff lower spine and other special adaptations for climbing. These features, plus the fossil's age of about 13 million years, suggest that this species was probably close to the last great ape ancestor, according to Salvador Moya-Sola of the Miguel Crusafont Institute of Paleontology and the Diputación de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain and his colleagues. The great apes, which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and humans, are thought to have diverged from the lesser apes, a group that contains modern gibbons and siamangs, about 11 to 16 million years ago. Fossil evidence from this time period, the middle Miocene epoch, is sparse and researchers have long been searching for the great ape ancestors that emerged after this split. There are several contenders, including Kenyapithecus, and Equatorius or the older Morotopithecus and Afropithecus, but the fossils that do exist indicate that these ancient "hominoids" were more primitive than Pierolapithecus, Moya-Sola said. The relatively complete Pierolapithecus skeleton shows a variety of important features shared by modern great apes, according to the researchers.


Indonesia’s Birds of Paradise in danger
November 18, 2004 www.enn.com

Rampant illegal logging in Indonesia and the demands of a rapidly expanding population and economy in Indonesia are killing many of Asia's most exotic and rare birds, conservationists said on Thursday. Birdlife Asia estimates that the sprawling southeast Asian archipelago is home to more than a third of Asia's endangered avian species, the highest concentration in the region. "Bird species across the Asian region are in serious trouble," said Richard Grimmett, the head of Birdlife Asia. "Of the 332 species of birds that are endangered in Asia, Indonesia alone has some 117 species." Speaking at a press briefing during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Grimmett said the world could not afford to lose Indonesia's unique ecosystem.


Prospects for Coral Reefs
November 19, 2004 www.enn.com

Even though nearly two thirds of coral reefs are now officially endangered, some are bouncing back despite warmer oceans and pollution. Researchers are encouraged by the recovery of coral reefs in remote or well-protected areas from the devastating coral "bleaching" effect of the 1998 El Nino weather phenomenon, during which sea surface temperatures rose well above normal. Described as a "one in a thousand year event," the bleaching, which killed off vast swathes of reefs across the globe, has not been repeated to anything like the same extent in the past six years. "Recovery should continue provided there are no major climate shifts in the next few decades," scientists said in a summary of the 2004 edition of Status of Coral Reefs of the World, released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in the Thai capital. The full report, which says 58 percent of the world's coral reefs are now endangered, is to be made public next month. About 100,000 species living in and around coral reefs have so far been logged, although some scientists believe the real total may top 2 million. In particular, the report cited sedimentation, land-based pollution and over-fishing as the biggest threats to the ecosystems.


Freshwater Fish Study
November 19, 2004 www.enn.com

CAMBODIA - Scientists in 17 countries will scout waterways to locate and study the world's largest freshwater fish species, many of which are declining in numbers, hoping to learn how to better protect them. They will look for creatures such as the Mekong giant catfish, goliath catfish, giant stingrays, razor-toothed gars, massive carps, caviar-producing sturgeon and predatory salmon -- which can all weigh more than 200 pounds and grow to six feet or longer, according to the project sponsored by WWF and the National Geographic Society.


Vietnam & Laos attack wildlife border trade
November 19, 2004 www.enn.com

Vietnam and Laos signed an agreement Friday to promote wildlife protection along their border, especially in vital areas where endangered species are in peril. The agreement, signed by forestry officials from the communist nations at the World Conservation Union meeting in Thailand, would help protect rare species such as the clouded leopard, Asian elephant and large-antlered muntjac deer. Transborder wildlife smuggling is a major factor leading to the demise of endangered species that are prized as delicacies or for medicinal purposes in Asia. The agreement brings together a wide range of parties, including border guards, provincial officials and the military to help crack down on illegal animal hunting and trafficking. The plan will also work to enhance conservation awareness among local people living in four border provinces and will strive to strengthen cooperation between the local officials on both sides of the border. The World Bank is particularly interested in conservation efforts in and around the site of a proposed dam for a new power project that will involve two provinces in Laos and two in Vietnam. The site also houses large protected zones -- including the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area in Laos -- where small populations of endangered endemic species like the Douc langur in Vietnam only exist.


Less than 30 Chinese tigers in the wild
November 19, 2004 www.enn.com

The South China tiger, also known as the Chinese tiger, is native to southern China and used to be found in mountain forests in the country's south, east, centre and southwest. But war, hunting and environmental deterioration over the past century has pushed the species to the verge of extinction and it is listed on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of endangered species. International experts predict tigers will disappear by 2010 if they are not protected. Less than 30 remain scattered on the mountains along the borders of Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong provinces in south China, according to a recent survey from the State Forestry Administration of China and the World Nature Fund. The survey's findings were released at a symposium on South China tigers held in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province. China has 66 South China tigers raised in 19 zoos but the animals are all offspring of six wild tigers seized in 1956. Xinhua said. To help save the big cats, China would send five to 10 South China tigers to South Africa to help re-acquaint them with the ways of the wild. The Chinese tigers and their offspring would be returned to China in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Xinhua said. The other four tiger subspecies are the Siberian, Bengal, Indochinese and Sumatran tigers.


NASA helps endangered species
November 19, 2004 www.enn.com/today.html?id=412

NASA agreed Friday to provide satellite data to boost nature conservation efforts by monitoring endangered plants and animals and their habitats, a space agency official said. It will also help environmental groups build a globally accessible database of maps and ecological data. "This opportunity for NASA to help advance conservation efforts globally reinforces our vision to use our unique vantage from space to improve life here on Earth," said Ghassem Asrar, NASA's deputy associate administrator for science. The announcement came during the World Conservation Union's meeting in Bangkok attended by more than 6,000 government officials, scientists, business representatives and environmentalists. The deal will give member organizations of the World Conservation Union -- an umbrella group known as IUCN -- greater access to NASA's mapping technology, said Stuart Salter, the IUCN's Species Information Service manager. Salter said the maps will help scientists assess the impact of human development projects -- from roads to towns -- on species and their habitats.


SD Zoo Parking
November 19, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Balboa Park took the first big step yesterday toward building three parking garages – including one for San Diego Zoo visitors – when the Planning Commission approved further study of a new parking scheme. The unanimous approval means the San Diego Park and Recreation Department can conduct detailed studies on garages proposed at the zoo entrance, Inspiration Point and the east end of the Cabrillo Bridge. Another site under consideration – either as an alternate location or for a fourth garage – is the Palisades parking lot near the San Diego Aerospace Museum. Yesterday's decision also gives the zoo a clear path to pursue its plan to put exhibits in its existing parking lot and move cars to a public parking garage – a plan the city already has approved. The zoo had promised to wait until a parkwide land-use study was finished. The recommendations from that survey, which the planning commission accepted for further action yesterday, include a multistory garage at the zoo entrance. "Now that (the study) has been approved, I think it will help us as part of Balboa Park to move together toward a common goal," said zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons. However, a long process lies ahead before anything is built. City planners and consultants expect to spend two years drawing up more detailed plans and performing an environmental impact report on all the recommendations. The estimated cost for that process is roughly $1 million, a park official said. The park department expects to seek grants to offset the cost. Proposed changes to the park master plan will then return to the Planning Commission for final approval. The City Council will have a final say on the master plan and on individual projects before construction can begin.


Santa Barbara Zoo Classroom
November 22, 2004 www.latimes.com

Like the TV reality show "The Apprentice", about two dozen Cal State Channel Islands students have been packing the boardroom at the Santa Barbara Zoo, splitting into teams to work up proposals for new exhibits at the ocean-view park. In this rare classroom setting the student’s competitive insincts have taken hold. One member of the team, who is planning to pitch a wallaby sanctuary actually drove to the Phoenix Zoo this weekend to study its wallaby exhibit. But it is unlikely any of the proposals will become a reality at the small Santa Barbara Zoo. The upper-division course is designed to teach students at the Camarillo campus all that goes into running a zoo as a way to explore careers and learn how organizations function.


Rare bird found in Vietnam
November 22, 2004 www.vnagency.com.vn

A globally-endangered rare species of bird, Gia Soi, has recently been found in U Minh Thuong National Park in the southern province of Kien Giang. Experts from CARE, an organisation in charge of community development and U Minh Thuong National Park protection project, said Soi Gia (scientifically named Leptoptilos Javanicus) is a migratory bird that is known to live in only two habitats in Southeast Asia, one being the U Minh Thuong National Park. Soi Gia has an average weight of 4-5kg with black feathers, and a wingspan of 0.8 to 1 metres that bear a grey cross. The presence of this rare bird in the U Minh Thuong National Park is attributed to the well-preserved diverse ecosystem in the area, including the availability of fresh water. According to the Park Management Board, the number of birds migrating to the park has seen a sharp increase this year. They are also found to live in planted forests near the Park's buffer zones. The Board officials also reported the number of fresh water fish, and wild animals such as boars, monkeys, snakes, and tortoises in the park have increased significantly over the past three years.


SF Zoo debates keeping elephants
November 22, 2004 www.enn.com

San Francisco officials are considering whether to stop keeping elephants in the city's zoo as activists push for a ban amid concerns about their conditions in captivity. Presently, the zoo plans to send its two elephants, Tinkerbelle and Lulu, to a California sanctuary by next month before improving its facilities for pachyderms in the future. That plan is not enough for Elliot Katz, president of In Defense of Animals, which is lobbying San Francisco's Board of Supervisors for what would be the first ban on zoo elephants in the country. "It's cruel and inhumane for these elephants," Katz told Reuters before city legislators held a public hearing. "Unfortunately the public doesn't have the full picture, how these elephants have suffered." Zoo officials say the elephant ban idea comes from a vocal minority of animal activists who want to close all zoos. "It is highly questionable whether politicians who know absolutely nothing about animal management ought to be the ones who are making decisions about complex animals, about elephants or other animals in zoos," said Michael Hutchins, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's director of conservation. His group says cramped conditions for elephants such as New York City's Central Park Zoo once had are now a thing of the past and that new standards have prompted several zoos, including in Madison, Wisconsin, to give up their elephants.


Congress approves $388 billion spending bill
November 22, 2004 www.nytimes.com

The $388 billion spending bill that Congress approved over the weekend included an $822 million increase for NASA but an across-the-board cut, for each domestic agency, of .8 percent from what Congress had planned to spend in the new fiscal year. Congress also approved a 3.5 percent pay increase for federal employees, that is likely to mean additional cuts in programs for labor-intensive agencies, like the I.R.S. and the Environmental Protection Agency. But for all the intense fighting over specific agencies and programs, the most striking feature of the new bill is how little it affects the budget deficit, which climbed to $412 billion in 2004. Mr. Bush promised during the campaign to cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his term.


Elephant innocent in keeper death
November 22, 2004 www.reuters.com

An elephant that stamped on his keeper at a Chinese zoo in the mating season and crushed him to death has been declared innocent because of mitigating circumstances, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday. Hu Tianmin was cleaning the elephant house at the zoo in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, in August when the five-ton, 20-year-old male Asian elephant named "Zhongbo" lifted him up, threw him to the ground and stamped on him. "The production safety administration in Kunming confirmed that the victim was responsible for his own tragedy because he had entered the elephant pen all alone and without adopting any protective measures, in violation of zoo rules," Xinhua said. Zoo officials said it was the mating season and the elephant was possibly suffering from sunstroke at the time, which made it irritable and prone to attack. The general manager of the zoo and at least four officials in charge of security were penalized by the production safety administration, Xinhua said without giving details. "Visitors and zookeepers have been advised not to get too close to the animals in future," it said.


Columbian white-tailed deer relocation
November 22, 2004 www.katu.com

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are set to trap and transplant some rare Columbian white-tailed deer around southern Oregon as part of an effort to re-establish the former endangered species in more of its traditional range. Biologists plan to focus on capturing family clusters of white-tails on private lands near Roseburg in Douglas County, then releasing them on other low-elevation oak or forestlands where the landowners are cooperative. "We're doing this to give them a boost in increasing their distribution," said Tod Lum, the department biologist overseeing the program. "This is the first year and we're trying to get 25 animals," Lum said.


Congress OKs zoo, museum funds
November 23, 3004 www.pjstar.com/stories

Glen Oak Zoo and the Lakeview Regional Museum are among central Illinois projects that would receive federal funds in a massive spending bill passed by Congress over the weekend. The zoo would receive $275,000 toward construction of its new Africa exhibit, while the museum will receive $275,000 for design and construction of a new building. Officials working with both projects had asked for several million dollars each. The funding is contained in a $388 billion spending bill. President Bush is expected to sign it later this week.


106 New Fish Species
November 23, 2004 thescotsman.scotsman.com

According to the first census of sea life covering the world. More than 5.2 million records mapping the distribution of 38,000 marine species have been catalogued. And some 106 new species of fish have been added to the list since researchers starting compiling it using existing records - an average of well more than two new species each week - bringing the total of fish species to 15,482. But while they might be the most visible of the oceans’ inhabitants, researchers are turning their attention to the more diminutive members of the marine web of life. The Census of Marine Life database also includes 6,800 species of zooplankton - the minute animals that drift across vast swathes of open sea with the powerful currents. They expect to discover, identify at least as many zooplankton species to the database over the next six years.


Project Black Rhino
November 23, 2004 www.ippmedia.com By Emmanuel Chacha

More than 30 years ago, the world’s renowned conservator Professor Bernhard Grzimek wrote: "The only rhino species of which there are still large wild populations, is the African Black Rhino". In 1970 about 65,000 black rhinos were still living in Africa. But the following 10 years witnessed the dramatic decline of the black rhino population in recent times. According to the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), until 1980 poachers had reduced the population to 14, 785 rhinos. About 77 per cent of the population in Africa were killed in only ten years! This is like from one hundred to zero in only few years. It was only in the early 1990s, with only 2, 475 individuals left, when the fast decline could slowly be stopped. An intense protection measures in some African countries at least started to make an impact and in the meantime the numbers of black rhino have slowly been increasing again. FZS says based on a census study from 2001, rhino experts of the International Conservation Organization assume that there are about 3,100 individuals.


New Research on Mammalian Sense of Smell
November 23, 2004 www.eurekalert.org    www.dukemednews.org/news

Duke University Medical Center geneticists have discovered new proteins that help the olfactory system in mammals organize properly. Thus the proteins are key to the ability of mammals, including humans, to detect and respond appropriately to chemicals in the environment via their sense of smell. The finding in mice paves the way for scientists to unravel the underlying code that allows the brain to interpret smells, according to the researchers. Using genetic manipulations, the team found two proteins in mice that chaperone odorant receptors to the surface of olfactory nerves in the nose. Odorant receptors are the protein switches nestled in nerve cell membranes that trigger responses to specific volatile chemicals.


NY City cracks down on wildlife sales
November 23, 2004 www.usnewswire.com

New York City today became the first municipality in the United States to approve a law making it illegal to buy or sell products containing, or advertised as containing, endangered species. The law, passed by the City Council today and awaiting the mayor's signature, follows an undercover investigation in New York last spring by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. The investigation found illegal products widely available claiming to contain endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, leopards and musk deer. Simon Habel, director of TRAFFIC, said "New York City is a significant market for endangered species products, particularly packaged traditional Chinese medicines containing or claiming to contain tiger bone, rhino horn, and other highly endangered species. New York City, by being the first to pass this type of law at the city level, can lead by example for other cities where wildlife trade threatens endangered species. Though federal legislation like the Endangered Species Act makes interstate commerce of endangered species products illegal, it does not apply to sales within a city. The new law would close local loopholes within New York City by making the sale of products containing, or labeled as containing, endangered species a violation of city law and give New York City enforcement officials the authority to take action."


Female Polar Bear sent to Tucson
November 23, 2004 www.turnto10.com/news

Four-year-old Kobe was sent to Reid Park Zoo in Tucson last week. Officials hope she and the male bear Boris will do a little matchmaking. Boris has been alone since his sister, Natasha, died unexpectedly in May 2001 while under anesthesia for a routine X-ray. Kobe will be in quarantine for the next 30 days. After that, zookeepers will introduce the pair slowly and let them get used to living together. Arizona may not seem like polar bear country. But Roger Williams Park Zoo said the Reid Park Zoo's exhibit mimics the natural environment of the tundra and includes a 72,000-gallon pool chilled to 55 to 60 degrees. Because captive-born polar bears, such as Kobe, have never had to endure a freezing arctic winter, they lack both a heavy winter coat and thick layer of blubber, Roger Williams Park Zoo said. Without those two specialized insulating devices, Kobe and other polar bears like her are able to make the transition to warm weather climates.


Oakland’s New Elephant Exhibit
November 23, 2004 www.montereyherald.com/mld

A private donor has given $270,000 to refurbish the Oakland Zoo’s elephant exhibit space. 3 female elephants, Lisa, Donna, M’Dundamella and male Osh can now enjoy an extra acre of space in their renovated home. A fence was moved beyond the concrete barrier that used to be the exhibit's border, increasing the exhibit size to 6 acres. The fence now loops around a patch of trees, where the elephants can seek an occasional moment of privacy. A feeding station is located near the viewing areas and there is a pool as well. The land behind the exhibit previously served as a large buffer between the elephants and the zoo's herd of antelopes.


Detroit’s Elephant Saga Continues
November 23, 2004 www.freep.com/voices/editorials

Winky and Wanda have to stay together. That means the Detroit Zoo needs to buy Wanda from the San Antonio Zoo. The two aged, arthritic elephants have been together here for a decade now. As zoo director Ron Kagan mulls their future, he cannot make a principled decision until he ensures that any action affects both of them. Kagan wants to send Winky and Wanda to an animal sanctuary, where they'll have more room to roam and walk only on natural surfaces -- a big plus for the elephants' tender feet and achy joints. But the American Zoo and Aquarium Association turned down his request and rejected his appeal. Although he could defy the AZA, risking the Detroit Zoo's accreditation, he cannot do that with an animal the zoo doesn't own -- that is, Wanda. The AZA decided Detroit's elephants should go to the zoo in Columbus, Ohio, if Detroit no longer feels right about keeping them. That is in line with its policy of assigning animals only among its members, which ensures they get proper veterinary care, among other standards. The AZA makes occasional exceptions for animals it deems surplus, an exception it appears unwilling to make for elephants, even senior pachyderms Winky and Wanda, 52 and 46 respectively. But Columbus seems only marginally better than Detroit. Winky and Wanda would still be indoors for months during the winter -- one of the major reasons Kagan decided the Detroit Zoo could never be made right for the elephants. In doing so, he, in effect, is questioning the ability of all northern zoos to support elephants properly. By insisting that Detroit's elephants need more room, he's also bringing into question whether elephants should be kept in any zoo. It's no wonder he's viewed as a threat in the zoo community and hit a brick wall at the AZA. Kagan needs to stick to his position, especially with the welfare of such old elephants at stake. But their welfare also depends on their togetherness, and so his top priority has to be making sure Wanda belongs to the Detroit Zoo. Then he can act as his conscience calls him.


New Hip for Cheetah
November 23, 2004 www.gulf-daily-news.com

A cheetah at a Czech zoo has become the first in the world to be fitted with an artificial hip, the zoo's vet Vaclav Pozivil said yesterday. The two-year-old cheetah called Jane, who lives at the zoo in Usti nad Labem in the north of the country, had been suffering from a congenital disorder of a hip joint. Jane was operated on by doctors at the local hospital in Litomerice, who replaced the distorted joint with an artificial one. "Without an operation, Jane would have been condemned to a gradual loss of mobility, and would have had to be put down in the end," said Pozivil, adding that the cheetah was continuing her convalescence.


Woodland Park Receives Grant
November 23, 2004 seattlepi.nwsource.com

Woodland Park Zoo has received a grant to update its African Savanna exhibit. The $149,743 grant comes from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The money will be used to update graphics and educational programs to improve the experience, said John Bierlein, the zoo's manager of planning and interpretive exhibits. The African Savanna exhibit opened in 1980. The grant is from the institute's largest grant program, Museums of America. The program provides more than $16 million to support the role of zoos, libraries and museums in America.


Navigation in Birds
November 24, 2004 www.nationalgeographic.com

A new study on the navigational abilities of birds will be published in tomorrow's issue of the science journal Nature. The study raises the possibility that homing pigeons use a magnetic "map" inside their beaks for long-distance journeys. The findings add to the debate over whether pigeons and other birds chart their flight paths by using a magnetic sense or by following scent clues in the atmosphere. Descended from wild rock doves, homing pigeons can locate their lofts, or roosts, even when released several thousand miles away. Because of this ability, people have used the birds to carry messages since the days of ancient Egypt. "We know that pigeons have a magnetic 'compass' and a sun compass. But there has been a long debate over the nature of the 'map' that pigeons use in conjunction with these compasses," said Mora, the lead author of the study. "The two main theories are that pigeons smell their way home using an olfactory map, or that they have a magnetic map. The Earth's magnetic field is very stable on a geological timescale," Mora explained. "The Earth's field is also highly predictable on a spatial scale, with intensity being weakest at the Equator and gradually increasing with latitude toward each Pole."


Tulsa Zoo wins "Zoo Tycoon 2"
November 25, 2004 www.gameinfowire.com

Game Studios announced today that the Tulsa Zoo is the winner in the "Zoo Tycoon 2" America’s Favorite Zoo contest. A $25,000 (U.S.) grant has been awarded to the zoo to help fund habitat maintenance, assist with animal care and repopulate endangered species. In the search for the "Zoo Tycoon 2" America’s Favorite Zoo, 50 zoos from across the United States were selected to participate in the competition in which one lucky zoo would be awarded the grant. The nationwide contest consisted of three rounds, the first of which called on the knowledge of four expert judges to pare down the selected zoos to 15 semifinalists on Oct. 4. Rounds two and three relied on zoo fans nationwide, who were encouraged to log onto www.zootycoon.com to learn more about and vote for their favorite zoos. After much consideration, Americans chose the zoo that most impressed them, and Tulsa Zoo now reigns as America’s Favorite Zoo.


Rescued Polar Bear Gives Birth in Detroit
November 26, 2004 www.wxyz.com/wxyz/nw_local_news

A polar bear rescued two years ago from a Mexican circus has given birth at the Detroit Zoo. The cub born Monday night was the first polar bear born at the zoo in nearly 15 years. The mother, Barle, was one of five polar bears seized by federal authorities from the circus in Puerto Rico and sent to zoos. A sixth polar bear died in transit. The Detroit Zoo was one of several organizations that fought an 18-month battle to get the arctic animals out of the Caribbean. The Suarez Brothers circus was accused of giving the bears, normally accustomed to subzero temperatures, only occasional access to air conditioning or swimming pools, and keeping them in small cages. "Barle's saga seems incredible as she is now a healthy mother after so many years of deprivation," zoo director Ron Kagan said in a statement.


Quebec Zoo exports Polar Bears
November 27, 2004 www.canada.com/montreal

Animal rights activists are upset with a Quebec City zoo for shipping two baby polar bears to Australia. The male bear cubs, now 9 months old, were orphaned when their mother was shot last September near Kangiqsualujjuac in northern Quebec. They were sent to the Jardin zoologique du Quebec. Last Friday, the zoo sent them to Sea World Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, which is to ship one of the cubs early in the new year to the new Oga Aquarium (Gao) in Oga, Japan, 500 kilometres north of Tokyo. The World Society for the Protection of Animals had wanted the cubs to remain in Canada. The society was shocked to discover that they are already out of the country and now wants to make sure one of the cubs doesn't wind up in a Japanese zoo."Japan is of concern for a number of reasons," Ron Laidlaw, the society's communications manager, told The Gazette in a telephone interview from Ottawa."The 65 polar bears that are already in Japanese zoos are kept in horrendous conditions. The Japanese have tried to get them from Manitoba, and Manitoba has said no. Then they tried to acquire cubs from the Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane, Ont., and the Habitat wouldn't work with them. Patrice Belanger, operations manager for the Jardin zoologique du Quebec, said the zoos where the bear cubs are going were inspected by Quebec veterinarians and wildlife experts, and the standards in Australia and Japan conform to the accepted international protection standards for raising polar bears in captivity.


Turaco Returned to Gladys Porter Zoo
November 27, 2004 www.brownsvilleherald.com

Gladys Porter Zoo officials reported Friday that the white-cheeked touraco that disappeared from their walk-in aviary last week had been returned by a man who bought the bird at a flea market and heard about the theft after a broadcast. The bird, which is native to the east African nations of Sudan and Ethiopia, was last seen Nov. 18 or 19, when a zookeeper at the aviary approached a man who was trying to pick the bird up. Zoo officials waited a week before reporting the loss to police.
The turaco is one of two breeding females at the zoo.


Local tourism Industry Improves
November 27, 2004 www.nctimes.com

2004 appears ready to enter history as another exceptionally strong year for the local tourism and travel industry. Executives with North County tourism-related companies and data from tourism industry tracker Smith Travel Research reveal the following trends: 1. San Diego County ranked second for room occupancy through October of this year, behind New York City, where the Republican convention was held. A year ago, the county ranked third. 2. Room occupancy along the I-15 corridor in North County increased by 10 percent over last year. 3. Business travel, long a weak point in the local industry, rose significantly this year. Helped by a strong "drive market" of visitors from California, Arizona and Nevada, San Diego County ended the 2003 year with a room occupancy rate about 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 59 percent.

Beginning with the economic downturn in 2001 and especially after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, travel of all sorts plummeted. Uncertainty about the economy has kept businesses on a reduced travel budget, but this year, things have improved. Major tourist destinations such as the San Diego Wild Animal Park near Escondido and La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad offer fresher faces this year, which they say will help draw in visitors. The Wild Animal Park forecasts attendance this year will be greater than 2003, due to new features such as its Lion Camp Exhibit. The exhibit, which opened Oct. 30, is designed so that lions on the open-range park will be encouraged to come close to visitors. A glass panel separates visitors from the lions.

The city of Escondido, anxious to promote its gentrifying downtown area, entered into negotiations this summer to land a high-end Marriott hotel. The proposed 200-room, seven-story hotel would be located on a city-owned parking lot between the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, and the adjacent Escondido City Hall. Talks are continuing between the city and a development team on a public-private partnership. La Costa Resort & Spa is almost finished with a $70 million renovation, including extensive additions. The old spa has been torn down and replaced with a new one, and a new 18,000-square-foot ballroom is the largest in North County, said April Shute, the 474-room resort's general manager. In January, a new restaurant, the BlueFire Bar & Grill, opens at the resort. With 324 seats, or 375 including lounge seating, the restaurant will specialize in coastal cuisine. It will include an "exhibition kitchen" where diners can watch their meals being prepared, Shute said. Also next year, the resort is building villa-style condominiums along its periphery, Shute said. To number 197 eventually, these condos can be run as investment properties with the help of the resort, which will rent them out.


Experimental Release of White Lions
November 28, 2004 www.news.com.au

SOUTH African scientists have released zoo-raised white lions into the wild in an effort to rebuild the endangered species. The first steps of the experiment were taken last week, when a family of white lions were set free in a wildlife reserve east of Cape Town. They padded to freedom, unaware of the experiment banking on their survival. So serious is this project that no one has dared give the cubs names for fear of letting emotion get in the way. The first few days have been crucial for Africa's new first family. Neither Queen nor four-year-old Jabulani have ever had to kill for themselves, let alone for their six-month-old offspring. To get them started, the wardens shot a 200kg kudu - an antelope running freely in the 81,000ha reserve. With the cubs eating 25kg of meat a day, it's thought the adults will learn to track and kill their own prey, including springbok, wildebeest and zebra. It's hoped these skills will be passed naturally to the cubs to form the basis of a wild pride of white lions that will eventually flourish through a carefully monitored program. Until then the experiment is hanging by a thread.


Thylacine may not be extinct
November 28, 2004 www.latimes.com

The thylacine has been listed as extinct since 1986 -- 50 years after the last known specimen died in captivity at Tasmania's Hobart Zoo. Although some scientists say the animal might have survived into the 1980s, there has been no confirmed sighting in 68 years. Scientists say the species vanished from mainland Australia thousands of years ago. Such negativity does not deter tiger hunters like Col Bailey, 66, an affable retired landscape gardener who has spent more than 30 years searching for the tiger. He wrote a book, "Tiger Tales," a collection of stories of purported thylacine sightings and old-timers' accounts of the animal, and believes they still exist in Tasmania, a rugged island of 460,000 people south of the Australian mainland.


Oakland Children’s Zoo to reopen in July
November 29, 2004 www.trivalleyherald.com

Oakland’s old Children's Zoo has been greatly missed since it closed last year, but zoo volunteers and city employees say they are impressed with the East Bay Zoological Society's progress on completing the Children's Zoo. Todd Gattoni, past president of the Zoological Society, said the interactivity, educational aspects and sheer size of the new Children's Zoo will help realize everyone's dream of making the Oakland Zoo a major destination in the Bay Area, for tourists and locals alike. Zoo director, Joel Parrot says the new Children's Zoo will have the country's largest collections of Aladabra tortoises and one of the largest collections of bats. "This is just about kids," Parrott said. "The collection is targeted to what children like the most." Kids like big things, yucky things, cute things and dangerous things -- bats, snakes, bugs, tortoises, rabbits, otters. In the old zoo, kids could climb on the tortoises and ride them around. Before the Children's Zoo was closed in 2003, its two alligators could barely turn around in their tiny enclosure. The way animals were treated was in direct opposition to the current zoo mission to educate about the majesty of the world's animals and how to protect them from extinction. The new Children's Zoo is being built with conservation, education and fun in mind. For example, the otters will have a giant swimming pool visitors can view from the top and through the glass bottom as they swim around. Kids can crawl through a tunnel specifically designed for them to peek at an otter den. The new habitat for the lemurs, primates from Madagascar, is being built with an artistic flair that makes the zoo retaining wall appear like a rock-laden mountain. The alligators will have more space to do what alligators do, swim and lounge around in between snacking and sleeping. The zoo will bring in a 6-foot long cast of the head of the largest alligator species ever found on earth -- a 42-foot-long crocodilian from the dinosaur era found in Niger. The petting and feeding portion of the zoo will still be there, although bigger and built with more thought to the happiness of its goats. While the animals enjoy their new digs, children and adults alike will enjoy the Children's Zoo as a playground, too. A suspension bridge connects viewing platforms. Artists created animal sculptures for kids to discover hiding around the paths. There will be a new amphitheater in the Children's Zoo and designers will be experimenting with plants to broaden the botanical garden that covers the entirety of the zoo grounds.


Elephant Foundation Research Symposium
November 29, 2004 releases.usnewswire.com

FORT WORTH, Texas. More than 100 participants from around the world are meeting for an intensive weeklong international elephant conservation workshop December 1-5 hosted by the Fort Worth Zoo. Leading elephant biologists and experts hope to obtain insight into saving elephants from extinction. The number of elephants in the wild is declining dramatically, and the North America's captive Asian elephant population is not sustaining itself, as elephants in zoos are not reproducing enough offspring to prolong the captive population. Current breeding rates suggest that in 50 years, only 15 female elephants will populate zoos (in 2004 about 240 female Asian elephants live in zoos). This means that the captive elephant population may go extinct before the wild population (which is rapidly declining as well). The conference features papers on topics such as artificial insemination; human-elephant conflict; elephant behavior development; reversing the decline of Asian elephants; and how elephants affect crops and people will be discussed in detail as people from around the world fight to save a keystone species for future generations. Conservation projects and research results on elephant management, health, nutrition, reproduction and behavior will also be presented. Additionally, as part of the conference and workshop, more than $120,000 in grant money will be awarded to those engaged in elephant field conservation and zoo research. A scholarship will also be awarded to an individual to attend a principals of elephant management conference.


Calgary Zoo Vets treat baby elephant
November 29, 2004 seattlepi.nwsource.com

Officials scrambled to save the unnamed calf after her mother, Maharani, a 14-year-old Asian elephant, refused to nurse her calf after giving birth on November 16th. Maharani was sedated by zookeepers so the calf could feed and acquire antibodies from her milk, but that failed and the baby soon fell ill and was too weak to walk. Canada Blood Services, a charitable organization, agreed to help the zoo give the calf the unusual elephant blood plasma transfusion. Blood was taken from female elephants at the zoo and sent to a research and development laboratory in Vancouver, British Columbia, for processing and extraction of plasma containing vital antibodies for fighting disease. The baby revived after the plasma transfusion and is getting healthier by the day, pulling out her feeding tube late Saturday night or early Sunday and now drinking a specially made formula that includes oats and milk from a very large bottle, spokeswoman Trish Exton-Parder said. The elephant continues to receive 24-hour attention from the zoo's medical staff and will stay indoors and out of public view until she is free and clear from illness.


Chester Zoo fined £25,000
November 29, 2004 www.manchesteronline.co.uk/news

On February 8, 2001, Chester Zoo elephant keeper Richard Hughes, 34, died from brain damage, nine days after being attacked by a 30-year-old cow elephant called Kumara. Hughes had been cleaning an elephant enclosure and was moving the animals to another enclosure to be washed when the accident happened. He gave a verbal command to the elephant, who was blocking a gate. But Kumara was used to getting commands from two other keepers who were abroad at the time, and she attacked Mr. Hughes head-on, threw him against the walls of the enclosure with her trunk then head-butted him. The animal suffered a painful foot condition which could make her irritable and in an inquest in 2002 zookeepers told how she'd attacked another keeper Don Plant twice in the previous 12 months, causing minor injuries. Professor Gordon Reid, director of the North of England Zoological Society, which runs Chester Zoo, admitted at Chester Crown Court that the law on health and safety had been broken. The Zoo is being fined £25,000


SF Zoo sends elephant to Refuge
November 29, 2004 www.freep.com/news

The San Francisco Zoo has sent its lone 38-year old Asian elephant Tinkerbelle to a 2,300-acre Performing Animal Welfare Society founded by a Hollywood animal trainer for abandoned and abused performing animals. In June, San Francisco's board of supervisors passed a resolution, urging zookeepers to send Tinkerbelle to the Calaveras County refuge in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The zoo's remaining African elephant, 38-year-old Lulu, will join Tinkerbelle in late December, and the zoo will permanently close its elephant exhibit. Though animal activists hailed Sunday's transfer, the AZA, prefers that animals are sent to accredited facilities, and the group's executive director addressed the matter in a letter to the zoo, insisting that moving Tinkerbelle to an unaccredited location posed "serious ethical and accreditation concerns." The zoo expects to hear whether accreditation is renewed in March.


Nashville Zoo gets ready for 2005
November 29, 2006 www.nashvillecitypaper.com

New Nashville Zoo exhibits that will be unveiled in 2005 will carry a price tag of approximately $7 million. According to Zoo President Rick Schwartz, construction costs have been fueled by donations from Nashvillians, some of whom are zoo benefactors for the first time. "New exhibits help increase attendance, which helps with our operations," Schwartz said. The additions should help push attendance past the 550,000 mark, which would be a record for the 14-year-old zoo. Zoo officials expect 2004 to see an attendance figure of close to 500,000.In addition to the giraffes and elephants, the zoo will add ocelot (a small, South American cat), lorikeet (brightly colored Australian parrots) and American alligator exhibits. The zoo’s current otter exhibit will be overhauled for the alligator exhibit, with a Louisiana bayou theme to be incorporated. Schwartz said he hopes to eventually have South American giant river otters, perhaps as soon as 2006.


Political History of the Buffalo Zoo
November 29, 2004 msnbc.msn.com/id/6605868/

In 1997, it was announced that the Buffalo Zoo -- the third-oldest zoo in America -- was going to leave the northeastern corner of Delaware Park, its home since 1875, for a $160 million facility on the waterfront. Neighbors of the Zoo, afraid their property values would fall, created the Committee to Keep the Zoo in Delaware Park, putting up signs reading "Improve Zoo, Don't Move." People in other parts of the city joined them with more signs. This spontaneous opposition exasperated the zoo's president, Thomas Garlock, who believed the committee's leaders were motivated by a selfish desires not an altruistic aim to help the animals. How, he wondered, could they find an aging 24-acre facility preferable to a gleaming 80-acre zoo on the waterfront? "The only animals the people in the Parkside neighborhood are concerned about are the homo sapiens," Garlock snapped. (He confesses today that he regrets the remark, which he says was "curt, off the cuff and certainly not representative of everyone who was opposed.") Donna Gioia, chairwoman of the Buffalo Zoological Society, was starting to think differently, however. "I began to think that maybe we had to re-evaluate. Maybe we had to go in another direction." The Buffalo Zoological Society has made more substantial progress since hitting its turning point in September 1999. Zoo officials reached two important decisions shortly after dropping their plans for a new facility: The board made its peace with the fact that the 24-acre Buffalo Zoo will alays be small. Thirty-eight zoos in the United States and Canada cover at least 100 acres. Buffalo ranks 105th in size. Thomas Garlock decided to quit as president. His move was, by all accounts, a resignation. "He wasn't pushed," says Gioia. The new president, 41-year-old Donna Fernandes, arrived in September 2000, armed with impressive credentials, including a master's degree in business administration, a doctorate in animal behavior, and experience at zoos in Boston and New York City. Her mission was to upgrade the existing site.


Hope Zoo’s Jamaican Iguana Project
November 29, 2004 www.jamaicaobserver.com/news

The Jamaican Iguana grows to about three feet long with a maximum weight of three to four kilograms and was thought to be extinct since 1948, but in 1990, a pig hunter named Edwin Duffus found a small population in the hills of Hellshire. Now, after 3 years of trials, the Hope Zoo has successfully hatched 4 Jamaican iguanas (Cycura collie) in captivity. Zoo curator Orlando Robinson said the iguanas were hatched on September 28; one of the babies has since died. The breeding project, called Head Start, succeeded with one other hatching in 2001, but this is the first time 4 of the reptiles were bred at one time.


Nature Conservancy seeks 5,000 acres
November 29, 2004 www.jdnews.com

"It's the best example of a savanna complex on the Atlantic coastal plain," said Richard LeBlond, inventory biologist with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program. It features all four savanna types that occur in the Maple Hill area; two of which are only found in North Carolina, LeBlond said. For this reason the Nature Conservancy of North Carolina wants to make sure that 5,485 acres of undeveloped land near Shaken Creek on the Pender/Onslow county line stays undeveloped. It is negotiating the purchase of 11 tracts, including the old Wallace Hunt Club, from several different owners, and it now has a promise of a $4.2 million Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant to help. The grant, approved earlier this month, was one of two this cycle for which the CWMTF Board of Trustees chose to provide through Certificate of Participation Bonds, authorized by the General Assembly this past summer. The legislation - pushed by Sen. President Pro-tem Marc Basnight, D-Manteo, and Sen. John Kerr, D-Goldsboro - allows the trust fund to borrow money through the sale of bonds when purchasing property for state parks or property to protect military bases from incompatible development. The money is to be paid back over a 20-year period. The property adjoins Holly Shelter Gameland and the new Bear Garden tract purchased in 2002, McIver said. Purchasing it will ensure its continued availability as a wildlife corridor between the gameland and Camp Lejeune. The Nature Conservancy has also secured from the state Ecosystem Enhancement Program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.


WWF partners with OrganicBouquet.com
November 29, 2004 biz.yahoo.com/prnews

OrganicBouquet.com, the world's first organic online florist, announced today the launch of a marketing partnership with World Wildlife Fund, a leading organization working to protect endangered species and habitats. Organic Bouquet is donating 5% of all sales from the World Wildlife Fund Collection (found on www.organicbouquet.com ) to WWF. In addition, whenever WWF members and supporters purchase Organic Bouquet's organic floral gifts via WWF's web site (www.worldwildlife.org), WWF will receive an additional 15% of the purchase to help support their conservation efforts. As part of the World Wildlife Fund collection, Organic Bouquet has created two unique bouquets. They include: the World Wildlife Fund Bouquet and the World Wildlife Fund Rose Bouquet. Each costs $39.95 plus $9.95 for shipping overnight anywhere in the United States. Flowers are shipped directly from the grower via overnight delivery anywhere in the USA. "Direct shipping from the farms results in fresher, longer lasting flowers," says Organic Bouquet's founder and CEO Gerald Prolman. Organic Bouquet guarantees at least seven days of vase time at home.


Australia’s Cane Toad Problem
November 29, 2004 www.nationalgeographic.com

Armed with a poison strong enough to kill crocodiles, the cane toad is generally regarded as a blight on the Australian landscape. Native to the Americas, the species was introduced to northern Queensland 70 years ago to control sugarcane beetles. The toads failed in that duty but spread across Queensland and into neighboring Northern Territory. Now the interloper is poised to invade the states of Western Australia and New South Wales (NSW). NSW wildlife authorities fear the amphibians—which have poisonous backs that kill hungry predators—will have a devastating impact on native species. Australia's leading government research body, the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO), forecasts a rise in average temperatures that will make NSW ideal habitat for the cane toad. Recent estimates put the pace of the toad's westward march at nearly 17 miles (27 kilometers) a year and slightly slower from north to south. More southerly cities, such as Melbourne and Adelaide, would likely remain too cold and dry to ever suit the toads, Robinson noted, but Perth could expect cane toads in five years' time. Sydney could see their arrival in the next 20 years.


SD Zoo Visitor reports obstacle
November 29, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com By Marilyn Salisbury

The world-famous San Diego Zoo is harassing those who use power mobility devices. Longtime San Diego resident and zoo member Rick Kneeshaw discovered this when he set out to take his 2-year-old granddaughter, Emma, to the zoo. Kneeshaw, who is disabled as a result of having had polio as a child, uses a power scooter to get around. When he arrived at the zoo with little Emma eagerly pulling on his arm, Kneeshaw was taken out of line and presented with an "Electric Convenience Vehicle Waiver, Release and Indemnity Agreement" form to sign.

"Electric Convenience Vehicle"? Since when is having a disability and needing a power scooter or power wheelchair to get around "convenient"? Perhaps what they're trying to say is "electric conveyance vehicle"? In addition to signing the form, Kneeshaw also was asked to listen to a "safety lecture" apprising him of the dangerously steep hills within the park. He says no one else was pulled out of line to hear this. He felt picked upon solely because he was using a power scooter.

Not wanting to let Emma down, he signed the form, listened to the lecture and proceeded into the zoo. But he was steaming. And then, when he read the form in detail, he discovered that it forbade him from carrying Emma on his knee. The ECV agreement states that only one person may occupy the vehicle. He read on, and it was all downhill from there. The agreement states that by signing the waiver, the ECV user assumes all responsibility in the event of any claim for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death. It further goes on to say that "it is the intention of the undersigned, by signing this waiver, to exempt the Zoological Society of San Diego, the city of San Diego, Scooterbug (a scooter manufacturer), and their officers, agents, servants or employees from any and all liability for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death caused by the negligence of ZSSD, the city of San Diego, Scooterbug or their officers, agents, servants or employees."

Concerned that signing the agreement might affect his personal liability insurance, Kneeshaw later spoke to his personal attorney who agreed that signing the agreement might invalidate his personal liability insurance coverage if his power scooter were to fail at the zoo and cause injury through no fault of his own. Now Kneeshaw was really upset. It is Kneeshaw's opinion that the "document is one-sided and oppressive. It provides no protections for the disabled person. It only protects the zoo at the expense of the disabled person." "This approach is using a 'cannon to kill a fly,' " Kneeshaw says. Christina Simmons, a public relations associate director for the San Diego Zoo, concedes that the form would not stand up in a court of law. She said its main purpose is to impress upon those who use power mobility devices that the zoo is a potentially dangerous place to drive because of the steep grades. Simmons told me that the form was created as a result of a personal injury lawsuit involving a guest who was injured by another guest who used a power mobility device. And here's the real zinger: She also told me that signing the waiver is optional. Zoo employees ask people using power mobility devices to sign the waiver, but anyone who declines to sign will be let in anyway. But no one ever told Kneeshaw that not signing was an option.

I understand the zoo's desire to protect itself from the potential threat of liability, but I do not see anything but harassment by asking only those who use power mobility devices to sign the waiver agreement. While the zoo is potentially a dangerous place for those who use power mobility devices, what about the rest of us? After all, anyone could trip and fall and roll down one of the steep grades, crashing into unsuspecting visitors along the way. My advice to all of you is this: Be careful at the zoo. It's not only the lions and tigers and bears that you need to watch out for.


Russia- wide tiger count begins
November 30, 2004  www.eurekalert.org

A team of conservationists led by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced the first range-wide count in nine years of Siberian (Amur) tigers, one of the world's most threatened big cats. The survey will involve hundreds of biologists hunters and trackers combing a variety of landscapes to find out how many Siberian tigers still exist in the wild. Last surveyed in 1996, the population, then estimated at 415-476 individuals, has been under continuing pressures from poaching, logging and hunting. Dale Miquelle, Director of the WCS Russia Program, and coordinator for the project, said, "This tiger survey represents a milestone in cooperative, international conservation efforts, with full political support from both regional and national governmental bodies of the Russian Federation, as well as financial and technical support from the international conservation community." Tiger surveys in Russia are conducted in winter, when a complete blanket of snow allows fieldworkers to canvass the vast region of the Sikhote-Alin Mountain Range, which holds 95 percent of the remaining Siberian tigers. Beginning in December, the survey team will search for tracks left by tigers as they traverse their home ranges looking for prey. A geographic database records the location and characteristics of each track reported, allowing specialists to estimate minimum numbers of tigers in the entire region. The lone remaining population of Siberian tigers was under intensive poaching pressures during the early 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in political and economic chaos, forcing local residents to seek any means, including poaching of endangered species like tigers, to earn a living.


Spider Silk’s technical application
November 30, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Spider silks could become the intelligent materials of the future, according to a review article published this month in the journal Microbial Cell Factories. The characteristics of spider silk could have applications in areas ranging from medicine to ballistics. The distinctive toughness of spider silk could allow manufacturers to improve wound-closure systems and plasters, and to produce artificial ligaments and tendons for durable surgical implants. The silk could also be woven into strong textiles to make parachutes, body armour, ropes and fishing nets. A whole range of ecological materials could emerge from the industrial production of spider silk. Thomas Scheibel, from the Department of Chemistry of the Technische Universität in München explains that there are currently over 34,000 described species of spider, each with a specific tool-kit of silks with different mechanical properties serving specific purposes. For example, major ampullate silk, a very tough silk with a tensile strength comparable to Kevlar, is used for the primary dragline or scaffolding of the spider's web. Minor ampullate silk with its very low elasticity is used to reinforce the web, while the strong and stretchy flagelliform silk forms the capture spiral of the web. Biotechnologists are currently analysing the properties of silk proteins and how they assemble into threads. Knowing exactly how silk fibers are formed and what mechanical properties result from different assembly processes could allow the manufacture of artificial spider silks with special characteristics such as great strength or biochemical activity.


Fragmented habitats hurt forest birds
November 30, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Deep-woods bird species that manage to hang on in remaining patches of a deforested area of Brazil gain no real advantage in avoiding extinction, Duke University ecologists have found. The researchers studied the coastal region harboring the greatest number of threatened birds in the Americas. "We found that species that also tolerate secondary habitats are not deforestation's survivors," said Grant Harris, the first author of a paper on the subject published in the December issue of the research journal "Conservation Biology." "If you lose your habitat, everybody is equally threatened," added Harris' co-author, Stuart Pimm. "There's no special class of species that seems to adapt well to the habitats we create for them. "Deforestation is rarely total or completely permanent," the two authors wrote in their "Conservation Biology" paper. The study focused on Brazil's Atlantic Forest, which the authors estimate now has been reduced to 119,540 square kilometers, or about 10 percent of its original extent. "There are more species threatened with extinction in this coastal strip of rain forest than anywhere else in the Americas," Pimm said in an interview. Deforestation along the approximately 800-mile-long coastal strip is also drying out the highlands further west, Pimm added. "As the lowlands area cleared, they become hot," he said. "And the uplands then begin to suffer because they're not getting the flow of moist air off the land."


National Zoo Cheetah Litter
November 30, 2004 washingtontimes.com/metro

If the 4 cheetah cubs, born November 23, survive they will be the National zoo's first successful attempt to breed cheetahs in captivity. Citing the high mortality rates among the big cats and a desire to minimize stress for Tumai, the 4-year-old mother, zoo officials said they are taking a "hands-off" approach, monitoring the newborns and their mother only via a camera. Cheetahs in the wild tend to have a low resistance to disease and a susceptibility to stress-related problems. "The biggest danger is that [the mother] gets spooked or scared by sharp noises or anything that is different," said animal keeper Craig Staffoe. "The worst-case scenario is that she lashes out at her cubs or gets nervous and moves them a lot," he said. "If a mother is going to reject her cubs, Mr. Staffoe said, she usually does so in the first week. But so far, Tumai has been paying equal attention to all four cubs — a good sign that she will continue to accept and care for them. Everything from the cubs' birth to their mother's care is now on tape. Researchers are eager to edit and study the footage The National Zoo has been trying to breed cheetahs since 2000. But all attempts up until now have been with older female cheetahs. The births came after the zoo was forced to euthanize a 12-year-old male cheetah suffering from diabetes. The zoo's cheetah population is now 10, including the week-old cubs.


Orang smuggling investigated
November 30, 2004 thestar.com.my

Where did the 100 orang utans at a private zoo in Bangkok come from? HILARY CHIEW traces the campaign to free the arboreal apes. Intense campaigning by conservation groups has so far failed to pressure the Thai Government to resolve the alleged smuggling of some 100 orang utans by private zoo Safari World in Bangkok. Groups such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), its Thai counterpart the Wildlife Friends of Thailand (WFFT) and ProFauna of Indonesia have demanded that the Asian great apes be returned to Indonesia, where they were likely poached from. WFFT director Edwin Wiek said, however, that there has been a glitch in DNA analyses to determine the origins of the apes. Early last month, a government lab failed to identify the genetic code of 50 orang utans, citing insufficient tissue samples. Fresh ones would have to be collected, causing further delay.


Big Problem for Zoos
November 30, 2004 www.latimes.com

EDITORIAL – This has been the year of the elephant, at least for animal rights activists. On Sunday, Tinkerbelle was trucked from the San Francisco Zoo to a sanctuary in the Sierra foothills after a public outcry that the city's tiny exhibit space didn't offer the 8,000-pound Asian pachyderm room to roam. This came just two weeks after the Los Angeles Zoo reclaimed Ruby, a 43-year-old African elephant who had been transferred to the Knoxville Zoo last year. Her behavior in Tennessee — listless and uncharacteristically aggressive — satisfied the predictions of critics who had said she would miss her L.A. companions and fail to adjust to the move. In Detroit, the outcome has been less happy so far for Winky and Wanda, two aging and arthritic elephants. Their zoo's director has sought for months to transfer them to a retirement sanctuary in the Sunbelt, only to run into opposition from a national association of zoo directors worried about setting a precedent for removing big animals from zoos. All of these elephant tales are pieces of an effort to find a balance between what's best for zoo animals and what's best for the exhibitors — and zoo visitors.


Chester Zoo Fined in Elephant Death
November 30, 2004  news.scotsman.com

Chester Zoo was fined £25,000 yesterday and ordered to pay £50,000 costs following the death of a keeper who was butted by an elephant as he attempted to move the animal from its pen. Richard Hughes, who had worked at Chester Zoo since 1997, suffered brain damage in the incident in February 2001. He died in hospital nine days later with his parents and partner by his side. He was helping to move a 30-year-old cow elephant called Kumar between pens when the animal lashed out with its trunk causing him to fall backwards into a corner. It then headbutted him three times. Yesterday, Professor Gordon Reid, director of the North of England Zoological Society, which runs Chester Zoo, admitted at Chester Crown Court to breaching the Health & Safety Act. The court heard that Kumara, who was put down in October 2001 because of health problems, had attacked another keeper twice before this incident and was known as "the most dangerous" elephant in the zoo. The court also heard that Mr Hughes had raised concerns in a self-assessment form in 2000 in which he wrote "more attention should be paid to the worries and concerns of elephant staff over safety". Judge Roger Dutton praised the work of the zoo but accepted there had been some health and safety failings that had since been rectified.


New Global Assessments Published
December 1, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Five articles published in a Special Section in the December 2004 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), provide new global assessments of how well protected areas such as parks can safeguard the numerous animal and plant species at risk of becoming extinct. The new analyses lead to the conclusion that although nominally protected areas now approach 12 per cent of the Earth's land surface, more needs to be done. The studies point to regions that should have high priority in the creation of additional protected areas for biodiversity conservation, and suggest ways to identify specific sites. The articles employ the framework known as gap analysis, a planning approach based on the assessment of the comprehensiveness of existing protected-area networks and the identification of "gaps" in coverage--species whose distribution means they are nowhere protected.


Po’ouli Extinction
December 1, 2004 www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science

An aging male po'ouli died in captivity Friday, according to the USFWS. It had recently contracted avian malaria, but the exact cause of death won't be known until tests from the necropsy are completed. The remaining two po'ouli, believed to be a male and a female, haven't been seen for nearly a year. They might also have died, moved to another area or have just been missed by wildlife officials. "This species was a unique part of Earth's history," said Eric VanderWerf, the USFWS Hawaiian bird recovery coordinator. "We'll never have another one like it if it disappears. I kind of liken it in someway to the loss of the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel. If we lost that, we could never get it back." The rare Hawaiian honeycreeper had been kept at the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda since it was captured for breeding on September 9. Biologists failed to capture a mate for the aging bird, which was found in the Hanawi Natural Area Reserve. The state, the USFWS and the Zoological Society of San Diego, which operates the Maui conservation center, began a search Tuesday to find the remaining two po'ouli in the remote rainforests of Maui.


Computer Game ‘Zoo Vet’ is released
December 1, 2004 www.experiencegaming.com

Zoo Vet lets players examine, diagnose and treat realistic, 3D zoo animals in a fun and entertaining setting. Earning The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval for Holiday 2004, a 2004 iParenting Media Award and the Children’s Software and New Media Revue All Star Award, Zoo Vet gives players the chance to assume the role of a veterinarian at a world-class zoo. With help from zookeepers and vet technicians, players care for 25 different animals, ranging from lions and pandas to komodo dragons and kangaroos. More than 30 realistic medical tools are available for use, including some that allow the player to perform surgery on their patients. As the game progresses, players are rewarded with job promotions, awards, and new game features. Zoo Vet offers three different levels of play, allowing animal lovers, future vets and professionals alike to experience the excitement of being a zoo vet, and learning to help and treat a variety of different animals.


Alaska Wolves to be Shot
December 1, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Alaska state game managers believe that shooting more than 500 wolves, should make moose and caribou more plentiful in coming years. The goal is to give hunters a better chance to fill their freezers. Opponents say the program is unnecessary. They believe that the predator-prey balance in most of the state is within normal levels and that moose and caribou herds don't need human intervention. Gov. Frank Murkowski paved the way for lethal predator control to resume shortly after he was elected in 2002 by stocking the Alaska Board of Game with advocates of wolf control and by signing legislation that allows private pilots to do the killing. Working under state and federal permits, the pilot-gunner teams are not paid. Their compensation is the pelts of wolves they shoot, which can range from worthless to several hundred dollars in value. The plan also calls for killing some 80 grizzly bears, which can be more deadly than wolves to newborn moose and caribou. The board is allowing predator-control participants to lure the animals with bait – a tactic that sport hunters can't normally use.


Conservationists gird for battle
December 1, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Environmentalists are worried as President Bush moves to cement a second-term agenda that includes getting more timber, oil and gas from public lands and relying on the market rather than regulation to curb pollution. Bush's top energy priority – opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling – is shaping up as an early test of GOP gains in Congress. James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the administration will continue a "partnership with the oil and gas sector" but also will work with conservation organizations – as long as they are "willing to engage constructively on defining priorities and practices in domestic production." Bush's environmental priority is to rewrite the Clean Air Act to set annual nationwide limits on three major air pollutants from power plants and to allow marketplace trading of pollution rights rather than regulation to meet those goals.


Whooping Crane Population record
December 1, 2004 news.fws.gov

A record number of endangered whooping cranes have already migrated for the winter to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area along the mid-coast region in Texas. The latest census flight on November 24 tallied 213 whooping cranes; 181 adults and 32 young who completed their first migration. "Stragglers" can continue to arrive into December, with peak counts for the winter usually not made until mid-December. "This is the highest number of endangered whooping cranes wintering in Texas in the last 100 years," said Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We beat last year's record by 19. The next highest record was 194 whoopers in the fall of 2003." The increase in numbers is due to very good nest production last summer. The Canadian Wildlife Service reported a total of 54 nesting pairs that fledged 40 chicks on their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. Whooping cranes migrate to Canada to breed and nest. They and their young migrate to the southern portions of the United States for the winter months. The young cranes were old enough to fly by mid-August increasing their ability to escape from predators and thus, their chances for survival.


Returning Black Bears to Texas
December 2, 2004 www.ktre.com

The Louisiana black bear is considered an endangered species. Only 47 of them have been spotted in East Texas since 1977. That number could change drastically if the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has its way. The department, along with more than 30 other agencies, started working on a plan more than a year ago to bring black bears back to East Texas. Ellen Trout Zoo director Gordon Henley says, "I think one of the downfalls to reintroduction programs are where there are animal-people conflicts. I think people are smart enough on both sides of the issue to come up with solutions and ways of bringing these animals back to minimize that conflict." The East Texas Black Bear Conservation and Management Plan is now in its final draft and ready for public release. To get a copy of the plan, contact Nathan Garner, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 11942 FM 848, Tyler, TX 75707.


Johannesburg Zoo’s new IT system
December 2, 2004 allafrica.com

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has partnered with IT solutions provider Datacentrix, to upgrade the Pretoria Zoological Gardens' IT infrastructure. Installed in August, it has helped the zoo to enhance communication, improving service and its care of the animals. The NRF spent around R1 million on revamping the zoo's IT infrastructure, which could no longer support its increasing technology needs. This included a point-of-sale system and new financial systems. The point-of-sale system is now totally integrated with the corporate financial system, which has reduced irregularities," says Hickey. Employees at the zoo received a two-week training, enabling them to work more efficiently and productively on the new infrastructure. Departments at the zoo had no intranet connection, PCs were out of date, and gate tickets were issued manually, which resulted in the figures not balancing. The NRF purchased HP PCs, laptops, HP printers, servers and network equipment. "To match up the sensitive nature of the environment at the zoo, we installed a two-tiered architecture, using a combination of fibre optics and wireless technology to ensure total network coverage of 80 hectares."


White Tigers in Houston
December 2, 2004 www.chron.com

Four white Bengal tigers were added to the menagerie at Houston’s Downtown Aquarium on Wednesday despite concern earlier this year that such wildlife might not belong in the city's business district. The tigers — a male named Nero, females Marina and Coral, and an unnamed 8-week-old male who seemed as docile as a house cat — were introduced with little fanfare Wednesday by Tilman Fertitta, president of Landry's, which owns Downtown Aquarium. He talked up the tigers as "good for business" and good for the city. But Sarah Tyack, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said "We need to leave behind the days where we're degrading majestic animals as frivolous crowd pullers. It might sound blindingly obvious, but a restaurant is no place for a 450-pound wild creature such as a tiger. They should rely more on a good menu."


Jack Hannah Helps Ross Park
December 2, 2004 www.pressconnects.com

The director of the Columbus Zoo will sign autographs, host a cocktail reception, tell stories and showcase seven or eight animals from the Ohio facility during the Ross Park Zoo's winter fund-raising event at the Binghamton Regency Hotel. "It will definitely be a fun night with live animals and fun stories from Jack," said Ross Park's Executive Director Jarod Miller. Hanna hosts his own hit television show, Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures, and has appeared numerous times on Good Morning America, Late Night with David Letterman, Hollywood Squares, The Maury Povich Show and Larry King Live. Both Miller and Hanna will appear together on Good Morning America (7-9 a.m. on ABC) the day of the event -- similar to how the two first met on the show's set about 10 years ago. "I was amazed at what he (Miller) knows and his dedication," Hanna said. "I was very impressed and knew that someday he'll become a zoo director of a major zoo. Right now, he's at a smaller zoo, but that's the way you work up." Hanna called and recommended Miller to the Ross Park Zoo board when it was looking for a new zoo director. Miller, at 26, is currently the youngest zoo director in the nation. However, the Ross Park Zoo is in dire need of funds, according to Miller. It has been plagued by financial and structural deterioration for nearly a decade. Animals are housed in habitats that are more than 30 years old, some barriers are constructed with chicken wire, and the lower portion of the zoo is sinking into the ground. Miller said the facility needs $4.5 million in upgrades during the next five years to survive.


NC Zoo gets almost $2 million from state
December 2, 2004 www.courier-tribune.com

ASHEBORO - The N.C. Zoo is proceeding with nearly $3 million in projects, many of which have been on a priority list for the past five years awaiting state funding. The zoo has received its first Repair and Renovation (R&R) money, in five years, from the state - a total of $1,831,936, which will be spent on four projects, including expansion of the elephant exhibit for breeding purposes. And, on Wednesday, the N.C. Zoological Park Council agreed to using $1,000,685 of the zoo's special fund for a wide variety of projects directly benefiting visitors. They received almost $2 million in R&R funds which represents 40 percent of the total amount the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) received. The Zoo which is an agency of the department has received no capital funding from the state in more than 10 years - since construction money was made available for the North American region.


Oakland breaks ground for pandas
December 2, 2004 sfgate.com

Oakland city officials and Chinese officials have announced that construction on new panda quarters will begin next spring at the Oakland Zoo. If all goes as planned, a pair pandas will arrive by the end of 2005, said Oakland Vice Mayor Henry Chang, the architect of the agreement with the Chinese government and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, China. Chinese officials said that Oakland would be the last city in North America to get a loaned pair of the pandas. Only four other zoos in the United States -- Washington, D.C., San Diego, Atlanta and Memphis -- have received pandas from China. Chang listed several reasons why the East Bay city had been selected, including its partnership with researchers at UC Davis' school of veterinary medicine, the fact that it has a sister city and 14 friendship cities in China and that Oakland was the first city in the United States to pass an equal- access ordinance making Chinese one of the official languages of the city.


Crocodile Hunter moving to Vegas?
December 2, 2004 www.klas-tv.com

Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter" made national news earlier this year when he fed a 13-foot crocodile while holding his infant son. Now he is wrestling with the idea of bringing his animal kingdom to Las Vegas. He announced on "Larry King Live" that he plans to open a multi-million dollar zoo in the valley, and is looking for partners. Irwin currently owns the 60-acre Australia Zoo in Queensland. The zoo's marketing and media manager, Peter Lang says while plans are still in the early stages, Irwin will bring a slice of Australia to the U.S. "We are Australia's #1 tourist destination and we are the best zoological destination in the world. So, you're going to get a taste of the best -- the koalas, the kangaroos, everything that's dinky we're going to bring it to you." The hope is to open the zoo sometime in 2006.


National Zoo Cheetah’s sire is ailing
December 2, 2004 www.nbc4.com/news

Smithsonian National Zoological Park officials say blood tests taken from ten-year-old "Amadi," the sire of a new litter of cubs, indicate he has chronic kidney failure. Officials said the condition was first discovered in May. Since then veterinarians have been monitoring his levels. This week's levels, however, indicate a sharp rise in the cat's enzyme levels, confirming kidney failure. Renal failure is a common cause of death in captive cheetahs, as well as in elderly domestic cats, officials said. They said Amadi is lethargic and his appetite has decreased. Zoo vets will assess his condition under anesthesia Friday morning, but they said the decision to euthanize the animal or put him on a drug that could stabilize his kidneys.


Sage Grouse Protection Denied
December 3, 2004 www.nytimes.com

Amid an intense lobbying effort by energy and ranching interests in the West, a team of Interior Department biologists has recommended that the sage grouse, a bird whose sagebrush territory has been vastly reduced by farming and development, is not threatened with extinction and does not for the moment need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Steve Williams, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, must make the final decision about whether to put the bird on the endangered list by Dec. 29. Not since the spotted owl achieved protected status, prompting a 1991 court ruling that vastly curtailed logging in Northwestern forests, has a proposed listing had as much potential economic impact. The petition to have the government protect the sage grouse has provoked energetic lobbying and legal maneuvering, with much of the biological science about its population trends and habitat coming under concerted attacks. The recommendation, which will be announced at the Western Governors' Association meeting in San Diego on Friday, followed the recommendations of the Western governors' group, the oil and gas industry and cattlemen's groups. In the 11 states that are home to the sage grouse, energy companies and ranchers would have faced significantly increased costs and regulatory delays if it had been listed as endangered. Environmentalists had sought the listing, saying that sage grouse populations, while now stable, are poised for a catastrophic decline because of development and invasive species like cheatgrass, which combines with wildfires to consume their habitat, as well as diseases like West Nile virus.


Zoo Demand fuels elephant trade
December 3, 2004 animal.discovery.com/news

International wildlife experts called this week for bans on the trafficking of endangered Asian elephants, warning that demand from zoos and theme parks is driving the illegal trade from countries such as Thailand. Experts from Thailand and India flew to Australia to air their concerns before Environment Minister Ian Campbell, who is considering a request from several Australian and New Zealand zoos to import nine new Asian elephants for a captive breeding program. "The demand from Australian and New Zealand zoos for new elephants is encouraging the illegal trade in this endangered species," Soraida Salwala, founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant in Thailand."We are witnessing an increasing number of elephants captured in the wild, while others are smuggled across borders and passed off as captive born." She called for a halt in the illegal trafficking in elephants and for new conservation efforts in its native habitats.


Great Indian Bustard Population Rising
December 3, 2004 www.hindustantimes.com

INDIA – The population of the Great Indian Bustard, an endangered species, has shot up by more than 40 to 45 birds by September 2004 owing to strict measures taken up by the administration, official sources. The spurt in the population of the bird, which is found in Kutch district of Gujarat, is attributed to strict protection habitat improvement and management of the bird sanctuary, sources said. During the last decade (1991-2000), the population of Bustard had gone down significantly and its status in the state was 'highly endangered'. Hence, the government had declared the 200-hectare area, where these birds were present, as sanctuary in 1992, they said. This bird is included in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and given highest importance and protection, sources added.


Calgary sets up elephant trust fund
December 3, 2004 calgary.cbc.ca

The Calgary Zoo has set up a trust fund to help pay for the care of an infant elephant rejected by her mother. Trish Exton-Parder, a spokeswoman for the zoo, says it costs about $500 a day to care for the baby pachyderm, including antibiotics, special formula, lab tests and medical supplies. The around-the-clock care by the zookeepers isn't included in that number. "Just antibiotics alone cost $330 a day. The pediatric electrolyte solution that she has to have in her formula is $100 day, as well as the goat's milk and coconut oil," Exton-Parder said. "About $66 a day for medications. We also have lots of medical supplies, we've spent around $400 there to date." The baby, who hasn't been named yet, was born Nov. 16, but her mother didn't want anything to do with her. That left her care to zookeepers, who have been hand feeding her a special formula. But it doesn't have the same nutrients and antibodies that would be available in the mother's milk, and orphaned elephants usually have a 50 per cent chance of survival. Exton-Parder says the calf is doing better, and that blood tests show her infection is gone.


Elephant Breeding Challenges in Zoos
December 3, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

FORT WORTH, Texas – Elephants in zoos are living as long as those in the wild, but their population in captivity is dwindling because it is so difficult to breed them, according to studies released Friday. The study of elephant life spans concluded that the average life expectancy of Asian and African elephants in captivity in North America is 45 years and 33 years, respectively. Those figures are similar for elephants in the wild, according to the study, presented Friday at the International Elephant Foundation's research symposium and published recently in Zoo Biology magazine. Earlier studies that said captive elephants lived about 20 years on average used data only from animals that had died, said Bob Wiese, the Fort Worth Zoo's director of animal collections. His study examined dead and living elephants, including a 77-year-old Asian and a 53-year-old African elephant in North America.


Do we need Zoos?
December 4, 2004 thestar.com.my

MALAYSIA – There are conflicting opinions about the necessity of zoos. Historically, emperors, kings and imperialists maintained collections of wild animals in their palaces and homes as a status symbol and for their own amusement. Colonialists, from the Romans to the Brits, captured exotic animals from lands far from home to be shipped back as gifts, trophies or items of entertainment. Most of the early zoos started from private animal collections. Their popularity among the public led to them being made accessible to paying visitors. Some zoos, though, were formed for nature research purposes. The main argument against captive animals is that these creatures are designed for life in the wild, not for confinement in a zoo for the pleasure of humans. However, zoo supporters say there are other more important concerns in running a zoo – like research, conservation and education. Each zoo is different. Some are professionally managed with the animal’s welfare and future being paramount; others end up committing crimes against nature. In Malaysia, we have many zoos, reptile parks, bird parks, insect parks, aquaria, animal shows, etc. Many are run as the owners please. Some are effectively animal torture camps, like the one in Kuala Krai, Kelantan, which StarWeekend discovered a couple of years back. There was also a report on Johor Zoo’s terrible conditions.


Detroits Elephants head to California
December 4, 2004 www.freep.com

DETROIT (AP) -- Two aging, arthritic elephants will live out their days in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada mountains and away from the cramped, cold Detroit Zoo. Under an agreement announced Friday by the Detroit Zoo, Columbus Zoo, San Antonio Zoo and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Wanda and Winky will be sent to the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary about two hours east of San Francisco. The deal vindicates more than six months of efforts by Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan to find more room and a milder climate for the 46-year-old Wanda and 51-year-old Winky. "We appreciate the clear commitment to doing what is best for these two elephants by the Columbus Zoo, San Antonio Zoo and the AZA," Kagan said in a statement released Friday by the association. Winky and Wanda will be moved as soon as the weather permits. They are expected to be replaced by rhinoceroses in the spring, the statement said. Kagan's voluntary decision to give up the elephants primarily on ethical grounds drew praise from the public and animal welfare groups.


Wolf Escape At Ross Park Zoo
December 4, 2004 www.wbng.com

Workers at Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton are on alert for a missing wolf. Zoo workers noticed a young red wolf was missing from its display Friday morning. Staffers say they've seen the cub in the zoo since then and they're just waiting for it to return home by itself. "Being small, still kinda a puppy she was probably able to find some little weakness and slip out. Wolves are amazing animals and can, if motivated or being curious, they can slip through a little area like this," said Jared Miller, director of the Ross Park Zoo. Even running wild in the zoo, zoo worker Sheila Green says the wolf doesn't pose a danger to anyone in or near the zoo, "In this situation, these wolves are more like your pet dog except with they have the wild instincts so anytime there's any type of noise, people around, things like that...their first impression is to get as far away from them as they possibly can." Zoo officials say, so far, they have not found any significant damage to the wolf display that might have led to that escape.


Sage Grouse Research Questioned
December 5, 2004 www.nytimes.com

The scientific opinions of a Bush administration appointee at the Interior Department with no background in wildlife biology were provided as part of the source material for the panel of Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and managers who recommended against giving the greater sage grouse protection under the endangered species act. The appointee, Julie MacDonald, a senior policymaker, criticized studies showing widespread loss of grouse territory and sporadic declines in grouse populations. The sage grouse, whose habitat overlaps areas of likely oil and gas deposits across states like Wyoming and Montana, would likely become an economic headache to the energy and cattle industries if it were listed. A listing can trigger extensive regulation and increase costs and delays. Mr. Williams, who is attending a Western governors' conference on the Endangered Species Act in San Diego, said on Friday that the scientists and bureau personnel who made the recommendation not to protect the greater sage grouse were given two extensive internal reviews of the state of scientific knowledge on the grouse and its sagebrush territory.


Chimpanzee brains are asymmetrical
December 5, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Chimpanzee brains are asymmetrical in key areas and their handedness reflects it. The hippocampus skews 'right,' especially in males, plus the righty-lefty distinction may go back 5 million years. New MRI-based studies present more evidence that the brains of chimpanzees are human-like in terms of the relationships among brain asymmetry, handedness and language, according to research undertaken at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. Two related reports appear in the December issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). In the first study, magnetic resonance images of 60 chimpanzees were taken to measure the anatomy of two key structures in their brains' limbic systems, an early-evolving central region that includes the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus (which regulates learning and consolidation of spatial memory, mood, appetite and sleep) was found to be asymmetrical, its right half significantly larger than its left. This asymmetry was bigger in males. These findings are consistent with studies of human hippocampi, which are also asymmetrical. Given the new findings about chimps and previous findings that the limbic system affects human facial expression and emotions, it now seems more clear why across primates, says Hopkins, the left half of the face – controlled by the right side of the brain -- is more emotionally expressive. In addition, a right-dominant hippocampus would explain apes' well-developed spatial memory. Again, that parallels how the right hippocampus in humans is involved in spatial memory. In a second study, Hopkins and Cantalupo report the first-ever evidence of an association between hand preference and asymmetries in three areas of the brain cortex in chimps. Observing 66 chimps, they found that left-handed and right-handed chimps differed relative to the asymmetries in two primary motor areas, the planum temporale and the precentral gyrus. To further understand language functions relative to brain asymmetries, the Yerkes team will soon begin using another brain-imaging technology, PET scans (positron emission tomography), to evaluate brain regions that are active when chimpanzees manually gesture and/or vocally communicate.

 
Spending Marketing Dollars Wisely
December 5, 2004 www.nytimes.com

As the business climate improves, the natural inclination of executives everywhere will be to increase their marketing budgets to try to attract new clients. But as logical as it may be to go after new customers, it can be an expensive mistake. The odds are that there is much more business that executives could be doing with their existing customers, additional revenue they can get at a much lower cost. That, at least, is the implicit message of a new crop of books. Their authors contend that before executives rush to find additional clients, they should make sure that they are doing everything they can to keep the ones they already have, then try to get a larger revenue stream from them, before looking for new customers.

Ken Blanchard, who achieved fame as the co-author of "The One Minute Manager," sketches out the strategy in "Customer Mania!" (Free Press, $19.95). He outlines a four-step approach to making customer service a business strategy:

1. If you put your focus on pleasing customers, profits follow naturally.

2. Give customers want they want as they interact with every part of your company.

3. Treat employees correctly. Abused employees won't provide good service; those who are rewarded for taking care of customers will.

4. Make service a leadership priority. This, of course, starts the circle again. If senior managers aren't committed to having their company offer superior service, it won't happen.

Four recently published books claim the payoff from better customer service is clear. If you can create a loyal customer base from which to derive future revenue, five things happen, all of them good:

1. Future sales become easier. It is always simpler to sell to people you know than to those you don't.

2. Your competition is hurt. These constant customers are buying from you, not your rivals.

3. Marketing costs decline. You don't have to spend to figure out who your audience is. You already know.

4. Loyal customers are a bit less price-sensitive. It is worth it to them to pay a bit more, to avoid having them go elsewhere.

In essence, all of these books seem to be saying, the creation and maintenance of a solid business reputation can reap dividends for a very, very long time.


Death of the environmental movement
December 5, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

A controversial essay entitled "The Death of Environmentalism," is circulating among environmentalists and their funding organizations. It was produced by longtime environmental activist Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute in El Cerrito and Ted Nordhaus, vice president of Evans/McDonough, an opinion research firm. Its content was based on interviews with more than 25 of the environmental community's top leaders and thinkers. On Dec. 8, former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach will take up the cause, in a speech, also titled "The Death of Environmentalism," to be presented at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Several National Public Radio affiliates plan to broadcast the speech a few days later. In it, Werbach will argue that the modern environmentalism must die in order for a new movement to be born.


Global Warning Fast Facts
December 6, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com

• There is little doubt that the planet is warming. Over the last century the average temperature has climbed about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 of a degree Celsius) around the world. The spring ice thaw in the Northern Hemisphere occurs 9 days earlier than it did 150 years ago, and the fall freeze now typically starts 10 days later. The 1990s was the warmest decade since the mid-1800s, when record-keeping started. The hottest years recorded: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2001, and 1997.

• The multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report recently concluded that in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia, average temperatures have increased as much as 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) in the past 50 years. The rise is nearly twice the global average. In Barrow, Alaska (the U.S.'s northernmost city) average temperatures are up over 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius) in 30 years. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that global temperatures will rise an additional 3 to10 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 to 5.5 degrees Celsius) by century's end.

• Over the last million years the Earth has fluctuated between colder and warmer periods. The shifts have occurred in roughly 100,000-year intervals thought to be regulated by sunlight. Earth's sunlight quota depends upon its orbit and celestial orientation. But changes have also occurred more rapidly in the past—and scientists hope that these changes can tell us more about the current state of climate change. During the last ice age, approximately 70,000 to 11,500 years ago, ice covered much of North America and Europe—yet sudden, sometimes drastic, climate changes occurred during the period. Greenland ice cores indicate one spike in which the area's surface temperature increased by 15 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius) in just 10 years.

• Rising temperatures have a dramatic impact on Arctic ice, which serves as a kind of "air conditioner" at the top of the world. Since 1978 Arctic sea ice area has shrunk by some 9 percent per decade, and thinned as well. ACIA projects that at least half of the Arctic's summer sea ice will melt by century's end, and that the Arctic region is likely to warm 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius) during the same time.

• Over the very long term, Greenland's massive ice sheet holds enough melt water to raise sea level by about 23 feet (about 7 meters). ACIA climate models project significant melting of the sheet throughout the 21st century.

• Vast quantities of fresh water are tied up in the world's many melting glaciers. When Montana's Glacier National Park was created in 1910 it held some 150 glaciers. Now fewer than 30, greatly shrunken glaciers, remain. Tropical glaciers are in even more trouble. The legendary snows of Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro 19,340-foot (5,895-meter) peak have melted by some 80 percent since 1912 and could be gone by 2020.

• Sea levels have risen and fallen many times over the Earth's long geological history. Average global sea level has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20cm) over the past century according to the IPCC. The IPCC's 2001 report projects that sea level could rise between 4 and 35 inches (10 to 89cm) by century's end. Such rises could have major effects for coastal dwellers. A 1.5-foot (50-centimeter) sea level rise in flat coastal areas would cause a typical coastline retreat of 150 feet (50 meters). Worldwide some 100 million people live within 3 feet (1 meter) of mean sea level. Rises of just 4 inches (10 centimeters) could promote flooding in many South Sea islands, while in the U.S. Florida and Louisiana are at risk. The Indian Ocean nation of Maldives has a maximum elevation of only 8 feet (2.5 meters). Construction of a sea wall around the capital, Male, was driven by vulnerability to the rising tides.

• The ocean's circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, moderates global temperatures by moving tropical heat around the planet. Global warming could alter the balance of this system, via an influx of freshwater from melting ice caps for example, creating unforeseen and possibly fast-paced change. Climate models suggest that global warming could cause more frequent extreme weather conditions. Intense hurricanes and storm surges could threaten coastal communities, while heat waves, fires and drought could also become more common.

• Since the 1860s, increased industrialization and shrinking forests have helped raise the atmosphere's CO2 level by almost 100 parts per million—and Northern Hemisphere temperatures have followed suit. Increases in temperatures and greenhouse gasses have been even sharper since the 1950s. Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide also contain heat and help keep Earth's temperate climate balanced in the cold void of space. Human activities, burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, have greatly increased concentrations by producing these gases faster than plants and oceans can soak them up. The gases linger in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even a complete halt in emissions would not immediately stop the warming trend they promote.

• In the Arctic the impacts of a warming climate are being felt already. Coastal Indigenous communities report shorter periods of sea ice, which fails to temper ocean storms and their destructive coastal erosion. Increased snow and ice melt have caused higher rivers while thawing permafrost has wreaked havoc with roads and other infrastructure. Some communities have had to move from historic coastline locations. Sea ice loss is devastating for species that have adapted to the environment, such as polar bears and ringed seals in the Arctic and Antarctic penguins.

• Studies show that many European plants now flower a week earlier than they did in the 1950s and also lose their leaves 5 days later. Biologists report that many birds and frogs are breeding earlier in the season. An analysis of 35 nonmigratory butterfly species showed that two-thirds now range 2 to 150 miles (3.5 to 240 kilometers) farther north than they did a few decades ago.

• By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth's land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.

• Coral reefs worldwide are "bleaching". losing key algae and resident organisms, as water temperatures rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.5 degrees Celsius) through periods of calm, sunny weather. Scientists worry that rapid climate change could inhibit the ability of many species to adapt within complex and interdependent ecosystems.

• The effects of a warming globe may not be entirely negative. Heating costs could decline for those in colder climates, while vast marginal agricultural areas in northern latitudes might become more viable. Arctic shipping and resource extraction operations could also benefit—summer sea ice breakup in Hudson Bay already occurs two to three weeks earlier than it did half a century ago. But many species could be hit hard—including humans. The most vulnerable are peoples living in the far North, those perched along the world's coasts, and millions dependent on subsistence agriculture subject to the vagaries of a changing climate.


New Forest Floor Exhibit in Johannesburg
December 6, 2004 allafrica.com

JOHANNESBURG Visitors to the Joburg Zoo will for the first time be able to see rare and endangered animals from Central Africa. The new Forest Floor exhibit, which is open to the public, features indigenous trees and a lake. Visitors will have a view of it from above thanks to a wooden walkway. The new animals include sitatunga and bongo antelopes, a red river hog and a red duiker - all of which will roam around freely in the enclosure instead of being caged in. Cherry van der Walt, a senior carnivore keeper at the zoo, said the forest environment and lake simulated the natural habitat of the animals as they all preferred thickly vegetated, muddy swamps and marshes. The animals are tame and not aggressive. Construction of the Forest Floor began two months ago and takes up one hectare of the zoo's grounds.


New Plans for Louisville Zoo
December 6, 2004 www.courier-journal.com

The Louisville Zoo plans to spend $90 million on major projects, beginning with a new polar bear and marine exhibit for 2008, in an effort to keep visitors returning. Polar bears, seals, sea lions and sea eagles would live in a larger, mostly new exhibit that shows how they live in their native habitat. Farther down the road are exhibits that will bring an African savanna to life and a display of creatures that have lived in Kentucky, ranging from bison and wolves to otters and bobcats. The master plan also calls for a new education center for the thousands of children who visit on field trips each year. Visitors won't see major changes for a while — the new polar bear/marine exhibit is four years ahead, and the Kentucky wildlife project is at least 13 years in the future. But some smaller exhibits will be improved over the next three to five years. The Australian-themed area, for instance, will get a kangaroo exhibit and a water-play area for children. It may also get wallabies, perhaps koalas and a new Aussie station for the zoo train, said zoo Director John Walczak. First up will be a $1.6 million, walk-in aviary that will open next summer. It will feature Australian birds called lorikeets.


Ringling Bros. Hires Zoo Official
December 6, 2004 home.businesswire.com

Today, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey(R) named Bruce Read the circus's first vice president of animal stewardship. Read will oversee animal care operations for Ringling Bros.' three touring circus units, training programs for animal trainers and handlers, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida, and the company's expanding international Asian elephant conservation efforts. Underscoring the importance of animal care and conservation at Ringling Bros., the vice president of animal stewardship will report directly to Kenneth Feld, owner and CEO of Feld Entertainment, Inc., parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®). Feld said, "I've charged Bruce with ensuring Ringling Bros.' animal care operations and policies redefine industry standards for animal husbandry, conservation and training." Read comes to Ringling Bros. with an accomplished background in the zoological and animal park arenas. Under Read's leadership, the Birmingham, Alabama Zoo won re-accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), and as director of the zoo, Read also restructured the zoo's education department and developed a new animal handler curriculum and zoo master plan. Prior to the Birmingham Zoo, Read oversaw the construction of animal facilities, as well as the hiring and training of the animal management team, at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. For additional information on animal care at Ringling Bros. or the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, visit www.ringling.com


Advice from former Zoo Director
December 6, 2004 www.buffalonews.com

Word that the Buffalo Zoo may be forced to give away animals if its county subsidy is eliminated brought some not-so-fond memories back to Minot H. Ortolani. He was executive director in 1993 when a threatened cutback in county aid led the zoo to warn, as Zoo President Donna M. Fernandez did last week, that part of the collection would be dispersed unless funding was restored. In the earlier instance, the zoo followed the warning with a dramatic gesture: It closed to the public. Faced with community upheaval, County Executive Dennis T. Gorski and the Legislature quickly resolved their budget differences and freed up $1.2 million earmarked for the zoo, as well as subsidies to other cultural organizations. Three days after the gates were locked, the Delaware Park facility reopened, its collection intact.

Ortolani, who retired in 1995, now believes that if push comes to shove in the current budget crisis, zoo leaders should first consider other alternatives:

• Downsizing departments such as grounds, maintenance, education, events coordination, membership and accounting in order to save money.

• Redirecting to operations state money currently slated for capital projects.

• Approaching private foundations for operating assistance.

• Rallying board members to raise emergency funds, as was done in 1993. Such an appeal would be "highly visible and emotional."

• Soliciting supermarkets for surplus produce to feed the collection.

Sacrificing animals would be "the wrong approach," he said - even though similar noises were made during his tenure. "You would be disposing of your most important asset. It would be like selling investments for cash to live on," Budget crises come and go, he added, "but once the animals go, they're gone. They're not coming back." If necessary, the zoo should halt capital projects "and concentrate on keeping everything alive."


Liger Hybrid born at Russian Zoo
December 6, 2004 en.rian.ru/rian

NOVOSIBIRSK – An unusual animal, the cub of a tigress and a lion, was born at Novosibirsk Zoo, zoo director Rostislav Shilo told RIA Novosti on Monday. According to Mr. Shilo, it is unusual for a cub to be born to a Bengal tigress and an African lion. "The birth of this cub, a liger, is not the result of a scientific experiment, but chance," Mr. Shilo said. "The lion and the tigress have simply been living in Novosibirsk Zoo in the neighboring cages for a long time and have got used to each other. Essentially, this does not occur in nature." According to him, the liger cub looks like a striped lion but no one can say what will happen to it in the future. The wonder of nature is named Zita, and she will live at Novosibisk Zoo, Mr. Shilo said.


USFWS designates new Wildlife Ports
December 6, 2004 news.fws.gov

Importers and exporters dealing in wildlife and wildlife products will soon be able to use three new ports of entry for their shipments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Houston, Texas, will officially become "designated ports" for wildlife trade on January 5, 2005. Service wildlife inspectors will process wildlife imports and exports at these locations, bringing the number of ports nationwide that handle all types of wildlife trade to 17. Both Memphis and Louisville are hubs for major international express mail companies that move huge volumes of cargo each year. Memphis International Airport ranks as the world’s largest processor of international airfreight, while the Louisville International Airport is the sixth largest handler of air cargo. Neither location, however, has previously been authorized to receive wildlife trade, which is regulated under Federal wildlife laws.


Governors want Endangered Species Change
December 6, 2004 ens-news.com

LA JOLLA – The governors of Western states are moving to change the Endangered Species Act to give states and landowners more power. During a two day Western Governors Association summit the governors considered ways to take more control over listing decisions. While the association represents the governors of 18 states, only seven governors attended the summit. Representatives of agriculture, conservation groups, and industry also participated. "By using common-sense approaches to update and strengthen the Endangered Species Act, we can restore the spirit of the law," said Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, a Republican who chairs the Association. "If we require goals to recover and restore and work with landowners and communities, then we will achieve success for the species and for our country." Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, said, "I am pleased that no one at the summit is talking about rolling back protections for endangered species. What I heard at the summit confirms my view that the Endangered Species Act is an important, effective conservation law." "It seems to me that we should consider only a few changes that refine the act - not major changes that would structurally redirect endangered species protection in the United States."


Cloning Primates
December 6, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Using newer cloning techniques, including the "gentle squeeze" method described by South Korean researchers who earlier this year reported creating the first cloned human embryonic stem cell line, University of Pittsburgh scientists have taken a significant step toward successful therapeutic cloning of nonhuman primate embryos. It is the first time researchers have applied methods developed in the Seoul laboratory to nonhuman primate eggs. Resulting cloned embryos progressed to the blastocyst stage, a developmental step in which the embryo resembles a hollow, fluid-filled cavity surrounded by a single layer of cells. Called the inner cell mass, this layer contains embryonic stem cells. Growth of a cloned nonhuman primate egg to the blastocyst stage is farther along the developmental spectrum than ever achieved before, Gerald Schatten, Ph.D., director of the Pittsburgh Development Center at Magee-Womens Research Institute, and his colleagues report. A paper describing these findings in more detail is being published in the Dec. 11 issue of the journal Developmental Biology. For a copy of the paper, please contact Michele D. Baum in the UPMC News Bureau at 412-647-3555 or by e-mail at baummd@upmc.edu.


Groups Meet to Discuss Climate Change
December 7, 2004 www.nytimes.com

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- New strategies to confront global warming took center stage in Buenos Aires on Monday, where thousands of environmentalists and government policy-makers gathered for an international conference on climate change. The annual United Nations gathering will be the last conference before the February implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, a landmark agreement requiring 30 of the world's developed nations to reduce ``greenhouse gas'' emissions by 2012. Persuading the U.S. government to agree to stricter environmental targets was to be a major goal of the Dec. 6-17 conference, delegates said. President Bush opposes mandatory emissions controls and has refused to endorse the Kyoto agreement, which enjoys broad support in Europe. The United States produces roughly one-quarter of the Earth's total greenhouse gas emissions. The most common is carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels in automobiles and other engines. U.S. scientists reported last April that global temperatures rose an average of .77 degrees between 1991 and 1998. The World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups released a report Monday calling global warming the greatest threat facing the world's coral reefs, citing higher water temperatures and carbon dioxide concentration. An October report by Greenpeace, Oxfam and other environmental groups said global warming shares the blame for this year's severe hurricanes in the Caribbean, flooding in Bangladesh and lengthening droughts.


Nashville Zoo Tries Elephant AI
December 7, 2004 www.nashvillecitypaper.com

The Nashville Zoo’s first attempt to artificially inseminate one of its female African elephants has failed. However, zoo officials say additional efforts to impregnate 21-year-old Kiba will be considered. Any time an AI effort is unsuccessful, it limits the U.S. zoo community’s chances to add to its animal population ranks,said Jim Bartoo, Nashville Zoo director of marketing and public relations. "We knew it was going to be a 50-50 shot when we went into this," he said. "But it is still disappointing — particularly for our mammal and elephant keepers." Had Kiba been impregnated, she would have undergone a 22-month gestation period. Now, it is unlikely Nashville Zoo officials will be able to unveil in the fall of 2006 — to great local public and media fanfare — a baby pachyderm. With assistance from Dr. Dennis Schmitt, professor at Southwest Missouri State University, Kiba was artificially inseminated in September as part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s African Elephant Species Survival Program to help address North America’s aging elephant population. With only 211 female and 31 male African elephants in the U.S., elephant experts project that, without breeding, there would be just 13 females left in about 40 years, he said. Of that 13, only four would be young enough to reproduce. In 1999, Schmitt assisted in the first successful birth of an artificially inseminated elephant. Since then, nine more elephants housed in North American zoos have been born by artificial insemination. The zoo has attempted two AI efforts with clouded leopards, one of which resulted in birth. That effort was the first in the world to achieve success.


Water Rights Case vs Endangered Species
December 7, 2004 www.washingtonpost.com

The Bush administration is close to settling a legal dispute with California farmers that could cost the government millions and make it more difficult for federal authorities to protect endangered species, according to legal analysts and some state and federal officials. Justice Department officials are working to reach an agreement with five San Joaquin Valley water districts that would affirm a federal judge's 2001 decision that federal authorities' efforts to conserve water for two imperiled kinds of local fish violated farmers' private property rights. The ruling, the first of its kind, would set an important precedent and could make it costly for federal officials to take protective actions under the Endangered Species Act. The case has been closely watched because of its potential implications for the ongoing debate over whether property owners should be compensated when environmental, zoning and construction regulations limit how they can use their land. Justice Department officials said they could not comment on whether they had reached an agreement with the California farmers, who lost as much as a third of their water deliveries in 1992 and 1994 when a prolonged drought posed a threat to the survival of the area's Chinook salmon and delta smelt populations. The smelt live in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta their entire lives, while young Chinooks swim through it on their way to the sea.


City of SF rules on Zoo’s Elephants
December 7, 2004 www.sfgate.com

Elephants will no longer be displayed at the San Francisco Zoo unless zoo officials provide adequate space for them and upgrade a number of other exhibits, the Board of Supervisors decided today. The conditional ban comes on the heels of two recent elephant deaths, which drew a storm of accusations from animal welfare advocates about what they described as unlivable zoo conditions. The incidents prompted the city's decision to move two surviving elephants to a sanctuary in San Andreas, near Sacramento. Supervisor Matt Gonzalez proposed the elephant ban after 43-year-old Maybelle and Calle, 37, died within two months of each other in March and April. An elephant in the wild can live as long as 70 years, according to In Defense of Animals, an animal rights organization that lauded the proposed ban as a "landmark decision'' after it was passed on first reading. The measure was modified through an amendment by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who suggested the zoo be required to set aside 15 acres for an elephant exhibit that would be allowed to open only if improvements were made to other sites, including those housing bears, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses.


Common Ancestors - Bats & Humans
December 7, 2004 www.nytimes.com By Carl Zimmer

Scientists have used computer analysis to read evolution backward and reconstruct a large part of the genome of an 80-million-year-old mammal. This tiny shrewlike creature was the common ancestor of humans and other living mammals as diverse as horses, bats, tigers and whales. Actual DNA molecules cannot survive such lengths of time. Mammal fossils from this period are extremely rare. But by tracking the course of mammalian evolution, scientists can pinpoint when a common ancestor existed and what, in general terms, it was like. By comparing the differences between the genetic material of living mammals, the researchers have now produced what they say is a highly accurate reconstruction of a section of the ancient creature's genetic sequence. The latest study, published in the December issue of Genome Research, presents a far longer sequence. A typical gene may contain a few thousand nucleotides, the fundamental units of DNA. The new sequence spans 1.1 million nucleotides. The authors of the study hope to use the same methods to reconstruct the entire sequence of this early mammal's genome over the next few years. These results may inspire visions of "Jurassic Park," with scientists using DNA to bring long-vanished creatures back to life.


SF Zoo Response to Elephant Ruling
December 8, www.reuters.com

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed legislation on Tuesday that could effectively bar elephants for good. Animal rights advocates had sought a permanent ban -- which would have been a first for an urban zoo -- but the city's Supervisors came up with a compromise to require the zoo to provide elephants 15 acres. At present the zoo, considered one of the best in the nation and located off the Pacific Ocean, devotes about 1/64 of an acre to elephants. The Zoo’s president, Manuel Mollinedo said, "I'm a little disappointed but then on the other hand you have to remember that this was a compromise. It is not what was originally proposed -- elephants are not being banned from the zoo like the original intent was." He said the zoo planned to have elephants again in the future, but animal rights advocates hoped the 15-acre(6-hectare) requirement would prove too onerous.


Publicizing the Po’ouli
December 8, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

On Nov. 28, a small honeycreeper called a po'ouli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) died in its cage at the Maui Forest Bird Project. In appearance, it was not the most glorious of birds. It looked a bit like a common sparrow or finch, its coloring nondescript buff, brown, black and white. Such birds don't often attract notice. But the po'ouli's death was significant. The caged bird was, in all likelihood, the last of its kind. Only three po'ouli were believed to exist. Only one – the bird that died – had been caught in a last-minute, desperate attempt to breed the species in captivity. The other two are still out there, somewhere on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the only place in the world where they live. At least that's what people hope, though no one has seen the last two birds for months, and odds are they're gone, too. So the world's a little poorer today with the absence of the po'ouli. Another bit of the planet's diversity has been lost. What exactly is hard to say. Ornithologists knew very little about the po'ouli. Its existence had only been discovered in 1973, the entire population residing on the higher northeast slopes of the volcano, Haleakala.


Conservation Cost of Lane Mountain Milk-Vetch
December 8, 2004 news.fws.gov

The USFWS today released a draft analysis that estimates costs associated with the conservation of Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus), a plant found in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. Between 1998 - when the milk-vetch was listed as an endangered species - and the final critical habitat designation in 2005, costs for the conservation of the species are estimated between $1.6 million and $2 million. From 2005 to 2025, costs for the species conservation are estimated between $5.8 million and $13 million. The Service is accepting public comment on the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk-vetch and the draft economic analysis until January 7, 2005. The Service proposed 29,522 acres as critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk-vetch in April of this year in response to a lawsuit filed against the Service by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society. Most of this acreage is on Federal and private lands, with a small amount on State lands. Most of the Federally-owned acreage is managed by the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Land Management. Most of the estimated costs are expected to occur due to the listing of Lane Mountain milk-vetch and protective measures already under way as a result of the listing of the plant as an endangered species. The majority of the costs prior to the designation of critical habitat for the species are for conservation measures associated with the expansion of U.S. Army military maneuver training. These measures include: endangered species education programs, species and boundary surveys, and development and maintenance of conservation areas. Other pre-designation costs for the Bureau of Land Management are attributable to the development and implementation of the West Mojave Plan, a multiple species habitat conservation plan. Comments on the draft economic analysis and proposed critical habitat may be submitted to: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; or faxed to 805/644-3958. They may also be submitted to: fw1Lanemv@r1.fws.gov.


Restoring Native Forests to Hawaii
December 8, 2004 www.eurekalert.ort

In Hawaii, ranching is becoming less profitable. Some landowners are cashing in on the vacation resort market by developing their land with high-rise hotels, cottages and "ranchettes." But a group from Stanford University's Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) led by Gretchen Daily is working to make restoration of native forests just as economically attractive. They will be presenting their research Dec. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Daily’s group is studying a possible solution to this dilemma in the Kona district of Hawaii-a win-win scenario in which replanting of native forests can not only restore a damaged ecosystem but also provide a renewable source of profit. The focus of Daily's efforts in Hawaii is the restoration of koa, a species of acacia tree native to the islands. A cornerstone of the forest ecosystem, the tree also is highly valued for its deep golden-red, shimmering hardwood. But koa has become increasingly rare, especially where ranchland covers much of the landscape. Koa can help recharge freshwater aquifers, many of which are being overdrawn in Hawaii, Daily said. Whereas mist and clouds pass over grassy ranchland without contributing much to groundwater, koa trees provide a lush, broad-leafed canopy that can draw moisture out of the air more efficiently. Koa forests also can help suppress the spread of fires and control flooding locally, she said. They also can store carbon-helping to stabilize the climate globally. These benefits are what Daily and others refer to as "ecosystem services," which have tremendous economic value.


Gorillas hold wake
December 8, 2004 www.cnn.com

After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family. One by one Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs' body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a "gorilla wake." Babs' 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to approach the body, followed by Babs' mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down, held Babs' hand and stroked her mother's stomach. Then she sat down and laid her head on Babs' arm. "It was like they used to do in the exhibit, lying side by side on the mountain," keeper Betty Green said. "Then Bana rose up and looked at us and moved to Babs' other side, tucked her head under the other arm, and stroked Babs' stomach." Other gorillas also approached Babs and gently sniffed the body. Only the silverback male leader, Ramar, 36, stayed away.


Wolves Gone, Ecosystems Suffer
December 8, 2004 oregonstate.edu

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Research about wolves that began in Yellowstone National Park has been replicated in an adjacent area, and a growing body of evidence leads scientists to conclude that this historic predator may have an ecological impact far more important than realized in the American West. The near extinction of the gray wolf across most of the West in the past century now appears to have removed the natural element of "fear" from these ecosystems. It has triggered a cascade of ecological effects on everything from elk populations to beaver, birds, fish, and even stream systems - and helped lead directly to the collapsing health of aspen and some other tree species and vegetation. Two recent studies by forestry scientists from Oregon State University, published in the journals BioScience and Forest Ecology and Management, outline a role for the gray wolf that is complex and helps explain many major problems facing western streams, forests and wildlife. "It would appear that the loss of a keystone predator, the gray wolf, across vast areas of the American West may have set the stage for previously unrecognized and unappreciated ecological changes in riparian and upland plant communities, and the functions they provide," the scientists concluded. More information on this research can be found on the Web at www.cof.orst.edu/wolves.


Critical Habitat for Thread-leaved brodiaea proposed
December 8, 2004 news.fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published today a proposed rule to designate approximately 4,690 acres of land in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties as critical habitat for the federally threatened Thread-leaved brodiaea. Thread-leaved brodiaea, a purple-flowered member of the lily family, is generally found at elevations between 100 feet and 2,500 feet above sea level in clay soils or soils with a clay subsurface. Based on a review of known occurrence records and suitable habitat identified in scientific literature, research and survey reports, and other sources of information, the Service determined that 9,403 acres of land is eligible for designation as critical habitat. "We are actively seeking comment and information about the plant and its habitat, and current or planned activities in areas proposed as critical habitat," said Steve Thompson, of the Service?s California/Nevada Operations Office. "This information will help us prepare a draft economic analysis and develop a final designation." Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until February 7, 2005 and should be submitted in writing to the Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92009. Comments may also be faxed to 760-431-9618, or sent by e-mail to fw1cfwo_brfi@fws.gov . Requests for a public hearing will be accepted until January 24, 2005. Areas proposed as critical habitat include 31 occurrences of the plant and contain specific habitat components the plant requires for growth, reproduction and germination; maintenance of its seed bank, and gene flow. Lands proposed as critical habitat are identified in 10 separate geographic units. Most of the land proposed as critical habitat is privately owned with the remaining areas managed by Federal, State, or local agencies. A copy of the proposed rule and other information about thread-leaved brodiaea can be accessed through the Internet at carlsbad.fws.gov , or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at 760-431-9440.


Chicken Genome Analysis links birds & mammals
December 8, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

An international consortium of researchers, including a geneticist at the University of California, Davis, uncovered a treasure trove of data when they analyzed the recently sequenced chicken genome, a development that will benefit research in basic biology and medicine for years to come. Their analysis of the chicken genome -- the first genome of a livestock or bird species to be sequenced -- will appear in the Dec. 9 issue of the journal Nature. "The draft sequence of the chicken genome and the findings provided in this first-level analysis truly revolutionize what research can be accomplished with this agriculturally and biomedically important species," said Mary Delany, a geneticist in UC Davis' Department of Animal Science and a co-author and a coordinator for the analysis. Delany, an authority on the biology and genetics of the chicken, noted that this new information will allow researchers to better understand the genetic and physical differences that occur in chickens and to develop genetically customized chicken strains that will serve as useful research models. The genome of the chicken, which serves as a model for 9,600 other species of birds, provides insights that were unavailable from previous genome sequences. Delany noted that "the sequencing project illustrates how essential it is that we conserve avian stocks if we are to make further research advances," she said. "It's vital that we make sure that existing chicken lines are protected both as important agricultural species and as powerful research models."


Tiger Escapes from Denmark Zoo
December 8, 2004 www.ctv.ca

Nykoebing is a city in southern Denmark with 25,600 people and is a popular summer resort for German tourists. A rare Siberian tiger was shot and killed there Tuesday after it escaped from a downtown zoo by climbing over a five-meter electrical fence in southern Denmark. The one-year-old, 120-kilogram tiger was in its outdoor cage for the first time Tuesday when it climbed the electrical fence, said zoo manager Gunnar Schoenveller. The tiger, along with its female mate, arrived in the Nykoebing Falster Zoo, about 130 kilometres south of Copenhagen, on Nov. 20. Both of the tigers were let out in their new lodging surrounded by an electrical fence. "The animal was dangerous because it was scared," Schoenveller said, adding that the tiger roamed a park surrounding the zoo. Police had closed the park while they searched for the animal. Veterinarians and rescue officers with rifles surrounded the tiger and shot it about 75 minutes after it escaped, police spokesman Kim Bak said. Officials decided to kill the tiger because of fears it might get out into the city, Bak said. The animals, also known as Amur tigers, are from the Amur-Ussuri region of Russia. Others have been reported in northern China and Korea. Fewer than 400 Amur tigers remain in the wild. About 160 are in zoos and wildlife parks in North America. The species are native to Russia and northeast China.


Universal Law of Biology at microbial level
December 8, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

The connection between species richness and area occupied, recognized by biologists for more than a hundred years as a fundamental ecological relationship in plant and in animal communities, has been discerned for the first time at the microbial level. A pair of papers in the Dec. 9 issue of the journal Nature, one focused on bacteria and another on a microbial fungi, shows that the number of species present – the diversity – increases as the area they occupy increases. "The results suggest that this relationship may be a universal law common to all domains of life," say Claire Horner-Devine, University of Washington assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and lead author of the paper concerning bacteria. Jessica Green, University of California, Merced, assistant professor of natural sciences, is lead author of the other.


Denver’s Baby Polar Bears on Camera
December 8, 2004

DENVER - The polar bear cubs born Thanksgiving morning at the Denver Zoo had their first exams Wednesday. Vets said they are both boys. The brothers each weigh a little more than three pounds and are almost 14 inches long. Adult male polar bears can grow to be as long as nine and a half feet and weigh between 770 and 1,430 pounds. If you want to see the baby polar pair, you can watch them on a closed circuit video feed in the Denver Zoo's Northern Shores Exhibit.


Calgary’s Asian Elephant Calf Dies
December 8, 2004 www.ctv.ca

The three-week-old baby elephant rejected by its mother at the Calgary Zoo has died. The Asian elephant, who had yet to be named, had been fighting an infection and slipped into a coma Tuesday afternoon. The elephant calf was rejected by its mother, a 14-year-old elephant named Maharani, shortly after its birth on Nov. 16. To the distress of zooworkers, the mother refused to nurse the baby -- an unfortunate but not unusual occurrence for elephants in captivity. Zoo officials gave the baby a 50/50 chance of survival. "We don't know why Rani chose not to accept her baby,'' said Alex Graham, zoo president. "Maybe our autopsy will show there was something dramatically wrong with this baby and Mother knew it all along. I don't know.'' The baby's handlers turned to other methods to try to feed the baby. They tried sedating Maharani to allow the calf to feed from her mother's milk, but that failed. They also tried using a formula made of goat's milk supplemented with Pedialyte, coconut oil and rice. They got the recipe from counterparts at the Houston Zoo who successfully nursed a three-month-old Asian elephant there named Bella. Then Canada Blood Services made the rare move of stepping in to conduct two plasma transfusions to transfer the mother's antibodies into the baby. Veterinarians thought the pachyderm was on the road to recovery. The zoo released video showing zookeepers playing and cavorting with the baby, who was beginning to put on weight. But then, the animal took a turn for the worse. She developed an infection, and had also begun teething, which put added strain on her system. Now, the zoo workers who put so much work into saving the baby are devastated by her death. Grief counsellors have been brought in to help. Graham said the death of the elephant calf was unfortunate, but defended the zoo against critics who said that Mahrani was too young to breed at 14 years old. "What utter nonsense," Graham said. "Animals in the wild breed and reproduce when they mature and when their hormones and their physical health is such that it allows them to do such." According to the World Wildlife Fund, Asian elephants become sexually active between the ages of 12 and 15. Zoo officials say they intend to breed the mother elephant again as soon as possible. And they are already sending the 23-year-old father elephant's semen to other breeding programs around the world.


Animal Activists Criticize Calgary Elephant Policy
December 9, 2004 www.canada.com/calgary

A day after the death of their ailing orphan elephant, Keemaya, Calgary Zoo officials said they will try again as early as next spring to breed the mother that rejected her calf. Animal welfare activists criticized the zoo's decision to try again to breed Maharani so soon after a long gestation and poor start to motherhood. "It's akin to asking a 14-year-old girl who gave her baby up to turn around and breed again next year," said Julie Woodyer, campaign director for Zoocheck Canada, a national watchdog group based in Toronto. "This mother's instincts haven't kicked in and by the zoo aiming to take a chance and do it all over again will just perpetuate the suffering." Woodyer pointed to other North American zoos' efforts to "free" elephants recently, including a decision by the Detroit Zoo to send two elephants to a sanctuary in California. Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan broke ranks with fellow directors this year when he sent two elephants to the warm-weather sanctuary because they could not be properly housed during Detroit winters.


Zoo Unveils Animal Conservation Prize
December 9, 2004 www.indystar.com

For researchers working to save wildlife around the world, the Indianapolis Zoo's new $100,000 international conservation prize will go beyond acknowledging their efforts. The biannual prize, established using a $1 million grant from Eli Lilly and Co., could change the course of a species' future. "That kind of money in the right hands would allow an unprecedented amount of conservation research to take place," said Jim Sanderson, a scientist who studies small, little-known wildcats. Six years ago, he trudged through South America to document the rare Andean mountain cat. When a photo he took appeared in National Geographic in 2000, it was only the third ever taken of the 10-pound feline, which Sanderson says is "all hair and gorgeous." But for researchers like Sanderson, funding often is as elusive as the animals they study -- so the new Indianapolis Prize, which can be used any way the winner chooses, could be a windfall. "Prizes like this help raise the stature of the person receiving the prize. It makes it easier for them to do their work and makes funders more eager to give to them," said Kerry Green Zobor, spokeswoman for the World Wildlife Fund, which awards the annual $100,000 J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize.


Dolphin at Minnesota Zoo expecting calf
December 9, 2004 www.mnsun.com

Spree, the youngest dolphin at the Minnesota Zoo, will soon have a little brother or sister. Her mother, Rio, is expecting a calf next June. A routine blood sample taken from Rio last July indicated increased levels of progesterone, leading zookeepers to suspect her pregnancy. An ultrasound confirmed that suspicion in September. However, the father of the calf is yet to be determined. There are two potential sires, Semo, 40, and Chinook, 23. "We won’t know that paternity until after the calf is born," said Diane Fusco, dolphin zookeeper. Zoo visitors will notice Rio’s gradual weight gain as she adds about 100 pounds to her current 450-pound frame. Zookeepers will routinely weigh Rio and increase her feedings.


Black Bear Dies at Living Desert Zoo
December 9, 2004 kobtv.com

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - He was a main attraction at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park in Carlsbad. But the black bear named El Patron has died. Park manager Ken Britt says El Patron was in his early 20s. Britt says the bear died Tuesday, but the cause of death isn’t known. El Patron was a Chihuahuan desert black bear who had escaped and wandered around west Carlsbad shortly after his arrival at the zoo in January 1999. He was nabbed within a few hours.


Comment on Zoo Elephant Controversy
December 9, 2004 www.freep.com By Dalen Agnew

I am pleased that the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the Detroit Zoo have finally reached an agreement regarding the fate of the Zoo's two elephants, Wanda and Winky. I hope that they survive the difficult trip across the country and thrive in their new home. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding this sudden change of plans leaves the underlying moral question unresolved. That is: Is it right for zoos to keep elephants at all? Ron Kagan, the Detroit Zoo director, has indicated that not only the Detroit Zoo, but all zoos, are unable to meet the health and psychological needs of elephants. While the Detroit staff is certainly qualified to assess their own ability to care for their own animals, I believe Kagan is wrong in his assessment of all zoos. Certainly, the debate regarding the Detroit Zoo elephants has been one-sided at best. Judging by the most recent articles and letters to the editor, it appears that Kagan has led a compassionate public to believe there is only one simple and obvious solution to the troubles of zoo elephants, ignoring all other considerations. As a former zoo veterinarian and long-time supporter of the Detroit Zoo, I could not disagree more, and certainly do not believe that Kagan and the animal rights extremists with whom he is allied deserve the moral high ground that has been yielded to them.

DR. DALEN AGNEW, of Davis, Calif., is a former Detroit Zoo veterinarian. He is currently with the Department of Pathology, in the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Write to him in care of the Free Press Editorial Page, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226.


Sumatran Rhino on Brink of Extinction
December 9, 2004 www.yahoo.com

JAKARTA (AFP) - Illegal hunting has driven the Sumatran rhino, the most endangered of all rhinoceros, to the verge of extinction in Indonesia prompting a last ditch effort to save the species. "There are only about three to five rhinos in the park and the species will soon cease to exist if illegal hunting is not immediately curbed," Nur Azman of Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat national park said, according to state news agency Antara. Agus Priambudi, another conservation official, said authorities were struggling to halt widespread poaching in the park. "It is difficult for us to prevent local hunters from killing the rhinos because they get their funding from Jakarta and other cities in Sumatra," he said. To keep the Sumatran rhinos from extinction, he said his agency was working with a non-governmental organization to relocate remaining animals to a safer location in the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung province, also on Sumatra. The International Rhino Foundation said the Sumatran rhinos, also known as the hairy rhino, is probably the most threatened rhinoceros species. Numbers have declined more than 50 percent due to poaching in the past 15 years. Fewer than 300 Sumatran rhinos survive in very small and highly fragmented populations in Southeast Asia with Indonesia and Malaysia being home to most. There has been no indication the situation is showing any signs of stabilizing, the foundation said.


Whooping crane shot in Kansas dies
December 9, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

The wild whooping crane that had been shot in Kansas and transported to the USGS-Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, for recovery, died overnight. The endangered bird was being treated for shotgun wounds, including a broken wing, and a respiratory condition. Earlier this week, Dr. Glenn H. Olsen, Patuxent's veterinarian, reported that the crane's respiratory problems had worsened since his arrival at Patuxent. The crane was receiving nebulization therapy, antibiotics, and oral antifungal medications. The injured crane, part of the last remaining wild flock of an endangered species that migrates annually from northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, was shot as he traveled through Kansas on migration south. The bird had 11 pellets in its body and a broken wing. Another male crane was shot during this incident and did not survive. The injured crane received extensive treatment at Kansas State University before being sent to Patuxent on Thurs., Nov. 18. The carcass will be sent to the National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for necropsy, because the shooting of whooping cranes is still under investigation by the FWS Law Enforcement. Patuxent has led the recovery efforts for this endangered species since the 1960s, and has unique expertise in whooping crane care. Whooping cranes, native only to North America, are a protected endangered species, and the rarest of all cranes. The whooping crane that died had been a member of the last remaining wild flock, which numbers 213 birds today. There are about 440 whoopers in the world today, about one third of which are in captivity.


USFWS still deciding on Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
December 9, 2004 news.fws.gov

The U.S.F.W.S. is extending until March 31, 2005, the time period in which comments can be submitted regarding its reproposed critical habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. In compliance with a court order, on Oct. 12 the Service proposed to designate1,556 miles within the100-year floodplain of waters in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico as critical habitat for the endangered migratory bird, which was listed as endangered in 1995. The Service is required to consider economic information when making a critical habitat determination and will seek public comment on economics and the proposed designation together. The associated draft economic analysis and environmental assessment are not yet completed. Rather than allow the comment period to expire and then reopen the comment period for the supporting documents, the comment period will be extended. The critical habitat proposal comment period was scheduled to end Dec. 13. Comments should be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to the Service by March 31, 2005. Send to Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 W. Royal Palm Rd., Ste 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021, or email to WIFLcomments@fws.gov  or fax to 602-242-2513. Documents relevant to flycatcher critical habitat and recovery planning are available at arizonaes.fws.gov  or by contacting the address above.


New Sub-Species of Tiger Found
December 9, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

A new genetic study of the tiger family has uncovered a previously unknown sub-species of the big cats, researchers report in the journal Plos Biology. Evidence suggested previous attempts to classify tigers may have been flawed. So the team sampled DNA from 130 tigers from eastern Russia, China, India and countries in south-east Asia. The new sub-species, Panthera tigris jacksoni, is named after tiger campaigner Peter Jackson and comes from splitting one sub-species into two. The so-called Indochinese subspecies should be divided into two groups, representing a northern Indochinese and a peninsular- Malayan population, the scientists say. Eight sub-species of Panthera tigris are traditionally recognised on the basis of physical characteristics and geography, three of which have recently gone extinct.

Amur - (Panthera tigris altaica)

N. Indochinese - (P. t. corbetti)

South China - (P. t. amoyensis)

Malayan - (P. t. jacksoni)

Sumatran - (P. t. sumatrae)

Bengal - (P. t. tigris)

Shu-Jin Luo and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity in Maryland, US, carried out the latest study to see whether these traditional groupings were reflected in genes. But their DNA analysis suggested that just six should be recognised. In Plos Biology, the team write that its results "will lead to the improved management and conservation of these recently isolated but distinct geographic populations of tigers".The big cats are critically endangered. The combined stresses of habitat loss, hunting and an illegal trade in tiger parts have left wild tiger numbers at less than 7,000. By contrast, an estimated 100,000 wild tigers roamed much of Asia in 1900. Analysis of the tigers' mitochondrial DNA revealed that all tigers diverged from a common ancestor that lived 72,000-108,000 years ago. Despite their relatively recent lineage, factors such as diversity of habitats have led recognisable subdivisions to appear in tigers. However, the researchers also explore the possibility that their recent population decline and consequent isolation may also have led to this.


Tracking Orangutans From The Sky
December 10, 2004 www.sciencedaily.com

Hundreds of thousands of orangutans once ranged throughout southeast Asia. Now just two orangutan species inhabit just two countries: Indonesia (Kalimantan, the southern part of Borneo and Sumatra Island) and Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak, in northern Borneo). The Sumatran orangutan is listed as critically endangered; the Bornean, endangered. In Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra, logging operations clear an estimated 5 to 6 million forest acres a year, leaving the apes stranded in isolated stands of trees and the normally fire-resistant rainforest at sudden risk. Another force driving orangutan extinction in Indonesia is the poaching and illegal killing (mothers do not give up their babies without a fight) that secures orangutan babies for the exotic pet trade. In Sabah, Malaysia, the primary threat comes from clearing the forest for agriculture. Counting orangutans from the ground can be very time-consuming, difficult work, especially when faced with the hip-deep muck and steep slopes of the rainforest floor. Though helicopters obviously cover greater distance and more remote territory than is possible by foot, they're generally used to survey animals in more open landscapes. By using ground survey data to refine their aerial survey results, Ancrenaz and colleagues could directly assess the distribution and size of orangutan populations throughout Sabah. (Sabah covers roughly 72,000 square kilometers.) Over the course of two years, ground surveys—requiring 1,100 hours of field work—and aerial surveys—requiring just 72 hours—were conducted throughout all the major forests of Sabah. Commercial logging occurs in about 76% of all Sabah forests in commercial forest reserves. During the overflights, information was recorded on altitude, forest type, forest disturbance (on a scale from none to active exploitation), and signs of human activity.


Co-extinction Analysis
December 10, 2004 www.sciam.com

Even more species may become extinct in the next few decades than previously feared, according to a study published today in Science. By tallying up parasites and other known "affiliates" that depend on species on the endangered list, the authors estimate that another 6,300 species will disappear along with the endangered ones. Some affiliated species, including many parasites, are adapted to a single host species. Thus, if the host becomes extinct, so does the parasite. Other species--for example, butterflies that rely on plants to host their larvae--can switch to another host if their preferred one dies out. But as more and more host species disappear, the affiliate may run out of alternatives. To estimate the importance of this effect, the researchers looked at a wide variety of cases where they knew which affiliates depended on which hosts, including pollinating wasps, butterflies, and various parasites. They found that how many host species an affiliate could choose from mathematically determined how sensitive it was to extinction of the hosts. This relationship should allow a better understanding of the global extinction rate. Scientists have recognized the importance of such "co-extinction" for some time. "What's new is that we've invented a way to quantify it that can be applied to any other group that has sufficient data," says Robert Colwell of the University of Connecticut, one of the authors of the study. He notes that the method could be extended to other hosts and affiliates, and that many more species may be at risk.


Primate Workshop at Mysore Zoo
December 10, 2004 www.starofmysore.com

A two-day workshop on 'The Principles of Primate Husbandry and Population Management' began at Mysore Zoo this morning. The workshop was inaugurated by Mysore University Registrar Mr. N.D. Tiwari. Chief Conservator of Forests and Member-Secretary of Zoo Authority of Karnataka Mr. R.S. Suresh presided. Dr. Werner Kaumans, Curator of Primates, Cologne Zoo, Germany, is the resource person at the workshop. Mr. Tiwari said that most of the students these days are interested only in certificates and degrees. They are not transferring their knowledge to the people. Along with preservation of primates, the breeding management techniques should also improve. A right environment should be created for the primates and deforestation, should be avoided, he urged. Mr. Suresh suggested that the infrastructure in Zoo should be improved and experts in the field should be consulted. The primate preservation is satisfactory in the Zoo but technical faults in breeding should be looked into. Staff of Forest Department and Zoo Volunteers from South India are participating in the workshop. Talking to media persons, Zoo Executive Director Mr. Manoj Kumar and Chief Conservator of Forests Mr. R.S. Suresh said that the reports of inquiry by Police regarding death of animals in Zoo, is awaited and further action can be taken only after receipt of the same.


New ‘Incidental Take’ Permit Regulations
December 10, 2004 news.fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published in the Federal Register new regulations covering incidental take permits issued under the Endangered Species Act. The regulations describe circumstances in which the Service may revoke these permits. The Service grants incidental take permits to landowners who have voluntarily agreed to develop Habitat Conservation Plans, or HCPs. These plans provide a framework for landowners to conserve threatened and endangered species on their property. In return, the permits give landowners authorization for incidental take of listed species resulting from otherwise lawful development or land use activities. A final rule was published December 10, 2004, in the Federal Register establishing regulations describing circumstances in which the Service may revoke incidental take permits issued under the Endangered Species Act. While the Service has not revoked an incidental take permit associated with an HCP to date, these regulations clarify the limited circumstances when this could happen. This rule allows the Service to revoke an incidental take permit only if take of listed species caused by the permitted activity will reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery in the wild of one or more of the covered species and the Service cannot find a remedy to prevent this situation.


Elephant’s Tusk Repaired
December 10, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

A top West End dentist swapped his clinic for the zoo to work on a wounded elephant's broken tusk. African bull elephant Tembo needed the dental treatment - the equivalent of a human cavity filling - to prevent his cracked tusk becoming infected. A third of Tembo's tusk had snapped off while he was digging around in the ground at Colchester Zoo in Essex. A Colchester Zoo spokesman said Tembo, who is in his early 20s, is "doing remarkably well". Dentist Peter Kertesz carried out the one-hour procedure on Friday while Tembo was under anaesthetic. He first examined and photographed the tusk before locating the hole that was exposing the pulp and filling it in. A spokesman for Colchester Zoo said they called in the dentist as Tembo's risk of infection was a major concern. But Tembo was putting on a brave face after the treatment, he said. "He was a little bewildered but is doing remarkably well." As well as treating human patients at his London clinic, near Harley Street, Mr Kertesz also specialises in treating animals at zoos throughout the world and has performed about 60 elephant operations in his career.


Thread-leaved brodiaea in SD County
December 11, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Thread-leaved brodiaea, a member of the lily family, is a low-growing, purple-flowered perennial found in Southern California at elevations below 2,500 feet on clay soils. It is found in or near coastal sage scrub, grasslands, vernal pools and chaparral. The thread-leaved brodiaea, which is listed as threatened, was generally not harmed by last year's wildfires that burned 750,000 acres in Southern California, said Jane Hendron, spokeswoman for the wildlife service. The critical habitat proposal for the brodiaea is required under a court order resulting from lawsuits brought by the California Native Plant Society and the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, Hendron said. Of the 84 populations of the plant documented in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, the wildlife service is proposing that 57 be designated as critical habitat. The acreage affected in San Diego County includes:

1,527 acres in the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego County's border with Riverside County.
199 acres of private property in Oceanside.
125 acres of private property in Carlsbad.
315 acres of private property in San Marcos.
57 acres of private property on the Double LL Ranch in Encinitas.
74 acres of private property near Highland Valley Road in Ramona.
Further information can be obtained by calling the Carlsbad office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, (760) 431-9440.


Animal Planet
December 12, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Television's Animal Planet exists because of an ancient truth: Humans have a thing for critters. The American Pet Association says approximately 140 million dogs and cats live in 33.2 million U.S. households. "We (humans) have an emotional connection with animals," says Clark Bunting, executive vice president of Discovery Networks, the parent company of Animal Planet. Animal Planet made its cable debut in October 1996. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association says the show is seen in 86.1 million U.S. households, making it the 27th largest "cable program network." The ranking is impressive when you consider there are about 300 networks that are NCTA members. Currently, the No. 1 cable program network is the Animal Planet's sister operation, the Discovery Channel, seen in 88.6 million households. Over eight years, Animal Planet has connected with audiences because of its diverse programming. Even animals watch the channel, according to feedback from viewers. TVs are left on for cats, dogs and birds when pet owners are away. At 8 tonight, the network unveils its latest program: "Spy on the Wild." While it may not be an instant hit with dogs, cats and birds, Animal Planet devotees may find it enthralling. The show uses espionage technology to reveal animal behavior that happens too fast or takes place in locations too dark or remote for the eye to see.


White Rhinos Born at Singapore Zoo
December 12, 2004 news.scotsman.com

Two Endangered white rhinos have given birth to two young at the Singapore Zoo, an official said Monday. A male rhino, named Mandela after South Africa's former president and independence leader, was born in October, said the zoo's executive director, Fannie Lai. Another male, Sudi, was born on Nov. 11, she said. Sudi means "luck'' in the East African language of Swahili, Lai said. Each young rhino weighs about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and is roughly 60 centimeters (2 feet) tall, she said, adding that three keepers are caring for them. "Both baby rhinos are very active,'' Lai said. "They enjoy running around the enclosure.'' Ten white rhinos have been born in the zoo's breeding program. The first was Uhura, a female born in 1996 and now in a zoo in Adelaide, Australia.


Vaccinating Wildlife to Prevent Human Disease
December 13, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Direct field evidence shows that Lyme disease in humans can be prevented by vaccinating wildlife, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In a four-year study of isolated woodlands near New Haven, nearly 1,000 white-footed mice were trapped and either vaccinated against Lyme disease or given a placebo. Fewer deer ticks tested positive for Lyme disease in the experimental plots where mice had been vaccinated. Fewer ticks carrying infection reduced the risk for humans getting Lyme disease from a tick bite. "Vaccinating wildlife increases our prevention options," said principal investigator Durland Fish, professor of epidemiology at Yale, who led the study with Jean Tsao, now at Michigan State University and microbiologist Alan Barbour at University of California at Irvine. "Despite a record increase in cases, efforts to prevent Lyme disease with a human vaccine were set back in 2002 when it was pulled from the market due to poor sales." Although the study showed significant reduction in risk and was the first demonstration of a wildlife vaccination effect for any vector-borne disease, the reduction was not as great as the investigators had hoped. A surprising result was that mice are not as important in maintaining the Lyme disease bacterium in nature as previous studies showed. "If only mice were responsible for infecting the ticks, we would have seen a much greater reduction," Fish explained. "We now believe that mice are responsible for only 27 to 55 percent of the infection found in ticks. This changes our view on how Lyme disease is circulated between wildlife and ticks." Fish said that in addition to mice, other animals must receive Lyme disease vaccination in order to further reduce risk to humans. Oral vaccines, similar to those currently used against rabies, could be developed for Lyme and other vector-borne human diseases that are maintained by wildlife, including West Nile encephalitis.


Chester Zoo Receives Award
December 13, 2004 iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk

CHESTER ZOO has received the Sandford Award from the Heritage Education Trust to recognize quality education in and about historic sites. But in a break from tradition, the zoo has been singled out to receive the award for its contribution to natural heritage through the conservation of endangered species. The award is normally given to castles, museums and galleries and the zoo will join many illustrious locations such as Hampton Court and Canterbury Cathedral. Chester Cathedral won the award in 1998. The zoo's education division received the award for its whole approach to conservation education including taught educational "discovery programs" for schools,, interactive materials, award-winning signs at animal enclosures around the zoo, library facilities as well as for the information given out to visitors. Three Sandford Award judges spent an intensive fact-finding day at the zoo. Later they commented: "Taught sessions are conducted by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of professionals as are the numerous enlightening presentations held throughout the day. "Although the focus is on science and biology, an imaginative class teacher will exploit the enthusiasm generated by the visit to pursue cross curricular activities and a Sandford Award is richly deserved."


Last Elephant Leaves SF Zoo
December 13, 2004 www.mercurynews.com

Yielding to pressure from animal-rights groups, the San Francisco Zoo is giving up its last elephant, marking the first time in the facility's 75-history that it will be without at least one pachyderm. The zoo's only remaining elephant is being moved to a sanctuary in the Sierra foothills after elected officials voted to require a larger compound for elephants at the seaside attraction. The 38-year-old elephant named Lulu is the fourth animal to be relocated or to have died in the zoo's half-acre elephant compound this year. The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors said last week that elephants can only return when the zoo builds a larger elephant enclosure of at least 15 acres. Animal-rights activists applauded the board's action. "While no urban environment can meet the vast space requirements of elephants, the new San Francisco standards are an important first step in forcing the zoo to recognize and address the complex needs of elephants," said veterinarian Elliot Katz, president of the group "In Defense of Animals". The zoo's director, Manuel Mollinedo, expects elephants to return at some point. He planned to seek bonds to help build new pens and was optimistic private donors might contribute to the project.


Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count
December 14, 2004 www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/

The 105th CBC, will occur between December 14th 2004 to January 5th 2005. The race is on to break the 2000 count mark in one season. During last season’s highly successful and eventful 104th Christmas Bird Count, a new-record total of 1996 counts was included in the online database. Redpolls flooded southward across the continent, favorable weather graced participants in many regions, and the post-season focus of analysis was on Boreal Species. What will the fates bring CBC participants this season? Only time will tell, but if recent trends continue we can hope to break the 2000-count mark during the 105th Christmas Bird Count, poised to begin on December 14th. The full report of the Scientific Peer Review panel has been published in the 104th Christmas Bird Count issue of American Birds, and the course for future improvements in the Count has been charted. Conservation, scientific, and birding communities embrace CBC data for their value for long-term analyses and general interest. With the continuing data cleanup, minor protocol tweaks, and improvements to data output, the heralded efforts of all Christmas Bird Count compilers and participants will be of even more value to the birds we’re all counting! Please remember to send us photographs taken on your CBC. During each CBC season many participants and compilers are able to photograph or otherwise document birds found on their counts. Many of those photos are of rarities, while others are of interesting occurrences on a given count. We’re pleased to highlight here a sample of the photos submitted in past seasons for use in the Christmas Bird Count issues of American Birds.


Tool use by wild capuchin monkeys
December 14, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

A team of researchers, led by University of Georgia psychologist Dorothy Fragaszy, has just published the first direct scientific report of tool use among a population of wild capuchin monkeys. There have been reports of single instances of this behavior but never of a whole population using tools routinely over a long period of time. Using remarkably heavy stones probably transported to an "anvil" site in northeastern Brazil, these cat-sized monkeys routinely crack palm nuts, which grow in clusters close to the ground. Though this nut-cracking behavior has been common knowledge among local residents for years, this is the first scientific report to confirm a behavior previously studied only in wild populations of chimpanzees. The study was just published online as the cover story in the American Journal of Primatology and will be published in the hard-copy version of that journal later this month. Co-authors of the journal are Patricia Izar and Eduardo Ottoni of the University of Sno Paulo, Elizabetta Visalberghi of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Rome, and Marino Gomes de Oliveira of the Fundacno BioBrasil in Bahia, Brazil. Another study, just published in the journal Science, also reports more generalized tool use among capuchins in a different area of Brazil.


Brookfield’s "Trainer for a Day" Program
December 14, 2004 www.kwqc.com

The Brookfield Zoo has decided that a pilot program to let visitors get closer to the animals was so successful, they're making it permanent. The "Wild Encounters" program lets visitors glimpse what goes on behind the scenes at the zoo west of Chicago. For 300 dollars, people can get a first-hand look at what it takes to be a marine mammals trainer, including sorting through chopped-up fish to feed the animals. Other choices include 60 minutes with the dolphin trainers and a class about the zoo's walruses, sea lions and seals. The new program lets visitors be "a trainer for a day." It's a way for the zoo to generate more money that goes directly towards the operation and care of these animals. The trainer for a day program is $300 for a four hour session or a $150 for a shorter lesson. For more information visit www.brookfieldzoo.org/.


NC Zoo Using Biodiesel Oil
December 14, 2004 www.courier-tribune.com

The N.C. Zoo received its first 400 gallons of biodiesel, a fuel made completely from vegetable oil, Tuesday afternoon - the initial step to eventually producing its own while providing a cleaner air quality for its visitors and staff. "We'll start using it right away," said Mary Joan Pugh, the zoo's finance officer and chief of staff, as the biodiesel was transferred from a yellow Piedmont Biofuels tank truck to a recently installed new tank, next to one containing diesel fuel. The biodiesel, known as B100, contains no petroleum products. It's made from vegetable oil, such as oil from soybeans. Zoo officials will use the biodiesel to create its own B20 blend of 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent conventional diesel fuel for its diesel trams and buses for visitors, service equipment and mega generator. A $2,000 grant has made the purchase of the biodiesel possible for the next several months. There will also be signage letting zoo visitors know about the vehicles being fueled by this energy source. "Eventually we will make our own from vegetable oil - 100 percent from our restaurants," Pugh said. The zoo has applied for a second grant to build a reactor to accomplish the transformation of waste vegetable oil into biofuel for its vehicular fleet. "This is cleaner burning and has a fraction of the emissions," said Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels about the biodiesel delivered Tuesday at the zoo.


Female Rhino Dies at Kerala Zoo
December 14, 2004 www.teamindia.net

A female rhinoceros died of wounds inflicted by its male partner in the zoo here, after battling for life for over a month. Eight-year-old Rita, a native of the Brahmaputra valley, died last night in her solitory enclosure in the zoo where she had been confined with grievous injuries after being gored by her partner Ramu, who had last year killed a zookeeper, Zoo authorities said. Rita was rescued from drowning in swollen Brahmaputra a few years back and kept in the Guwahati zoo, from where it was bought by the zoo here as a companion to the love-sick Ramu last year. Eight-year-old Rita received a deep wound on her left forel leg about 40 days back. "We tried our level best to save her. We used all the expertise available and the wound had healed 40 per cent. The exact cause of the death would be known only after the post-mortem," said Zoo Director C S Yalakki. The animal had refused food for the last few days, he said. Ramu, who is often of shortfuse, had last year gored to death one of the zoo keepers here. The dead animal's skin and skeleton are being preserved in the natural history museum of the zoo.


Bird Extinction Study Online
December 14, 2004 www.theage.com.au

About 10 per cent of all bird species face extinction by the end of the century and 15 per cent more are on the brink, according to researchers who believe such extinctions could have a widespread impact on the environment, agriculture and human society. "Important ecosystem processes, particularly decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal, will likely decline as a result of the loss of bird species," said Cagan H Sekercioglu of the Stanford University Centre for Conservation Biology. The forecast of Sekercioglu and colleagues, published online on Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, comes a month after the World Conservation Union reported a continuing loss of species, including an estimate that 12 per cent of birds are threatened with extinction. The Stanford estimate was based on a year of study and a computer calculation of three possible scenarios.


Northwestern Bears killed by Humans
December 14, 2004 www.nytiimes.com By Jim Robbins

HELENA, MONTANA – The two large protected grizzly bear populations that remain in the United States, one in and around Glacier National Park and the other around Yellowstone, were hit hard this year by an unusually high number of deaths caused by humans. In the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, 31 bears were killed illegally or had to be destroyed in a mountain habitat of six million acres that has Glacier National Park and federal wilderness areas at its core. That is the largest number of deaths caused by humans in the region since 1974, when the grizzly was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In recent years, the most killed annually was 19, in both 1998 and 2000. More worrisome is that 18 of the dead bears were females, which are more important than males to the reproductive health of the entire population. Officials estimate the total number of bears in the ecosystem at more than 500. In the Yellowstone region, where federal wildlife officials are trying to remove the bear's endangered designation, 19 bears were killed, 9 of them female.


DNA Portrait of the Moa
December 14, 2004 www.nytimes.com by Henry Fountain

The large flightless birds called moas were found only in New Zealand, and for millions of years they flourished there. Then about 700 years ago humans arrived, and within 500 years the moas were wiped out. It was previously thought that the estimated population of 159,000 birds was decimated by hunting. But new research by Dr. Neil J. Gemmell of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and colleagues, is challenging that assumption. Genetic analysis reveals that there were many more moas in New Zealand in the centuries before the first people arrived. So the birds were probably in decline, from disease or other factors. By Dr. Gemmell’s calculations, there were 3 million to 12 million moas on New Zealand's two islands 1,000 years ago, not 159,000 birds. The findings were reported in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B. By analyzing 1,000-5,000 year-old mitochondrial DNA samples from 57 specimens of the largest species, the ostrichlike Dinornis, and then using a model of mutation rates, he worked backward to determine how large the population would have to have been to have such diversity. Since a high mutation rate means a smaller population, Dr. Gemmell conservatively chose estimates of mutation rates that were very high. Still, he came up with a Dinornis population of 300,000 to 1.4 million - and Dinornis was only one of 10 moa species.


Crane Migrators Arrive
December 14, 2004 www.nytimes.com

Another group of whooping cranes has made it to Florida, guided in their migration from central Wisconsin by ultralight aircraft. More than two months after leaving Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, 13 young cranes arrived on Sunday at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, 40 miles north of Tampa, according to the organizing group, Operation Migration. The birds (and ultralights) flew on only 21 days, being grounded the rest of the time by bad weather. A 14th bird was euthanized on Saturday after developing parasitic and bacterial infections. The effort, now in its fourth year, aims to establish a second migrating flock of whooping cranes, an endangered species. A naturally occurring flock migrates from Canada to the Texas coast.


Black Bear Chokes at Abilene Zoo
December 15, 2004 www.chron.com

One of the two American black bears at the Abilene Zoo died after apparently choking on a piece of meat. Boo Boo's body was found about 5 p.m. Monday, 30 minutes after the bears were fed. Once the second bear, Teddy, 13, was moved, the zoo staff made a quick examination and confirmed that Boo Boo, 9, had died. Dr. Clay Hilton, the zoo's consulting veterinarian, said Boo Boo must have eaten quickly and regurgitated a large, unchewed piece of meat that lodged in his windpipe. "We try and do everything we possibly can to provide a safe environment for the animals," said Stephanie DeGesero, the zoo's mammal supervisor. "Weird things like this just happen, even if you do things right by the numbers. It's probably something that would never happen again." The normal life expectancy of an American black bear in captivity is 15 to 20 years, DeGesero said. Boo Boo came to the zoo with Teddy in 2000. Their exhibit was renovated in 2002, creating more space for the pair to exercise and forage. Jeff Bullock, the Abilene Zoo's director, said that the zoo did not carry any insurance on Boo Boo and would try to replace him by working with the various environmental groups.


One of LA Zoo’s elephants dies
December 15, 2004 www.latimes.com

Tara, a moody African elephant that had delighted crowds at the Los Angeles Zoo since 1966, died Tuesday morning in her pen of unknown causes, officials said. She was 44. A solitary pachyderm who would act aggressively toward some females and make friends with others, Tara was discovered sprawled on her side by two animal keepers. She died half an hour later, zoo officials said."She had eaten during the night and there were no physical signs in her barn or yard that she was stressed or struggled," said head elephant keeper Joe Briscoe. "[Monday] she ate well and went about her daily routine normally. So right now, I just don't know what happened." Tara will be examined by veterinarians to determine the cause of death, said zoo director John Lewis. African elephants in the wild live to around age 40 and, therefore, Tara could have been considered "senior-aged," he said. Tara was born in Kenya in 1960 and captured at age 2, according to the North American Region Studbook for the African Elephant, a catalog of captive elephants. She was exhibited at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., before being sent to the Los Angeles Zoo.


Zoo Workers at risk for exposure to SV40
December 15, 2004 www.reuters.co.uk

Zoo workers who come in close contact with nonhuman primates, such as apes and monkeys, are at increased risk for exposure to simian virus 40 (SV40), suggest the results of a study of North American zoo workers. However, the investigators emphasize that larger studies are needed to determine the precise level of risk and to determine whether there are health consequences of SV40 infection in humans. SV40 causes cancer in laboratory animals and SV40 DNA has been observed in some human tumors although possible routes of infection are unknown, Dr. Eric A. Engels from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and colleagues report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. They tested 254 zoo workers for antibodies to SV40. Twenty-five of 109 of the workers who had direct contact with primates (23 percent) tested positive for SV40 compared with 15 of 145 (10 percent) workers who had no direct contact with primates. The increased rate of SV40 exposure in primate handlers remained after an "added level of stringency" was incorporated, the team notes, namely, a test to eliminate possible false-positive results that may have picked up two SV40-related human viruses. The "mostly low-level" of SV40 exposure observed in the workers suggests that there is no ongoing replication of SV40, Engels and colleagues note. They emphasize that the current study cannot provide a reliable estimate, in absolute terms, of the risk to zoo workers of exposure to or infection with SV40.


Columbus Zoo sends Manatee to Florida
December 15, 2004 www.nbc4i.com/news

The Columbus Zoo moved Snorty the manatee to Sea World Orlando, Wednesday. Snorty was rescued in December 2003 near Jacksonville, Fla. He was found suffering from cold stress and scars. He was moved to the Columbus Zoo for rehab. He will be released back into the wild in February 2005. This is the fourth manatee the Columbus Zoo has nursed back to health.


KC Zoo Will Raise Admission
December 15, 2004 www.kansascity.com

The Kansas City Zoo will finish the year in the black after several years of losing money, director Randy Wisthoff said Tuesday. But to remain in the black, the zoo will raise admission prices by $1 next spring: $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5.50 for children younger than 12. Discounted admission for all visitors on Tuesdays will rise to $4.50 Also in 2005, will be a special summer attraction will be a white tiger on loan from the Omaha zoo, along with some Asian birds and primates. The new fees will go into effect in March when the African section reopens. Until then winter admission remains $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children and $3 for everyone on Tuesdays. Zoo fees were last raised in 2002. Parking will remain free. Fees for rides within the zoo and for the IMAX Theatre will not change. Fees for Friends of the Zoo membership also will not rise. Wisthoff said he hoped the higher one-day ticket prices would encourage more memberships.


New café at Auckland Zoo
December 15, 2004 www.scoop.co.nz

Great coffee, hand-blended teas and a new, upmarket take on the classic Kiwi toasted sandwich are on the menu at a new café in Western Springs. The WETA espresso café is a key feature of the new entrance complex at Auckland Zoo. The new entrance allows visitors to drop into the café or the Wild Zone Gift Shop before they enter the zoo proper, so the new café is catering to both zoo visitors and locals keen for a great cup of coffee. The café offers inside and outside seating, with a view of the zoo’s Pridelands exhibit. Orb coffee, fresh-roasted locally, will be served. And for those who like their coffee with style, it will be brewed on a Faema E61, a retro design classic. It will be made by baristas totally au fait with the machine and the blend. Spotless Services Operations Manager Lee Bolam promises it will be the best coffee in the area.


New Species of Monkey Found
December 15, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

A species of monkey previously unknown to science has been discovered in the remote northeastern region of India, according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Named after the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh where it was found, the Arunachal macaque---a relatively large brown primate with a comparatively short tail---is described in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Primatology. The last species of macaque to be discovered in the wild, the Indonesian Pagai macaque, was described in 1903. "This new species comes from a biologically rich area that is perhaps India's last unknown frontier," said WCS conservation scientist Dr. M. D. Madhusudan, who was part of the discovery team that included WCS, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), and its associates. The new species of macaque was photographed during expeditions in 2003 and 2004 made by Indian researchers from WCS, NCF, the International Snow Leopard Trust, and the National Institute of Advanced Studies. The Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) is the latest addition to the macaque family, a group with some 20 different species occurring mainly in Asia across a variety of different habitats. The new species is also one of the highest-dwelling primates in the world, occurring between 1600 and 3500 meters about sea level. Although the monkey is new to science, the animal is well known to the residents of the Himalayan districts of Tawang and West Kameng, where the species occurs. The monkey's species name, mun zala, means "deep-forest monkey" in the vernacular of the Dirang Monpa people.


Taronga wants to import elephants
December 15, 2004 www.abc.net.au

The Asian elephant is under threat and so are the 10 elephants in Australian zoos. They're ageing and attempts to breed them have so far failed. So an application is now in front of the Federal Government to bring nine elephants into the country from Thailand. Australia's biggest zoo - Sydney's Taronga - has committed $40 million to the project. The Zoo has raised $10 million from the public to build what it's calling the Asian Elephant Rainforest with a further $30 million pitched in by its owners, the State Government. It's already purchased the elephants, is building a new enclosure and has even set up a quarantine facility in Thailand. But they still need official permission from Canberra. Taronga Zoo will have to meet the strict criteria of the convention on international trade in endangered species which demands that any import be in the interests of the elephant. Will Meikle, life sciences director says the purpose of this importation is to establish a self-sustaining population in Australasia and also to support long-term in situ conservation projects in Thailand for elephants. But animal welfare groups are lobbying against the proposal. Bidda Jones, scientific officer for the RSPCA says it's much more important to be putting money into conserving those elephants that are still in the wild. The RSPCA recently led an international delegation which travelled to Canberra to lobby against the import of these endangered animals, claiming the move would do nothing to conserve the species, but the zoos say the elephants they've purchased were already in captivity in Thailand. Meikle reports that the imported herd will be comprised of individuals that range between 4 and 12 years of age that have come from different sources. They've all captive-bred and they're coming from tourist camps in Thailand.


LA Zoo Elephant Necropsy Results
December 15, 2004 www.sfgate.com

Tara, an African elephant who had lived at the Los Angeles Zoo since 1966, died of acute heart failure, according to preliminary results of a necropsy, zoo officials said Wednesday. Tara had appeared to be in good health until she was found early Tuesday, lying on her side in her compound. The necropsy, conducted at a San Bernardino laboratory of the University of California, Davis, will be followed up with more detailed evaluations that could take eight to 10 weeks to complete. "Although Tara's death was tragic, it now makes sense to the scores of people who were deeply affected by her death," the zoo's director, John Lewis, said in a statement. "Tara will be missed, but she lived a long and good life at the L.A. Zoo." The elephant fell two years ago and needed help getting back on her feet. When she fell again Tuesday, keepers didn't believe it was fatal, but Tara died about 30 minutes later, Lewis said. Tara was living in an off-exhibit yard and barn next to Ruby, another African elephant. Ruby returned to Los Angeles last month after spending 18 months at Tennessee's Knoxville Zoo, and officials said the two had become friendly, making noises and touching trunks. Ruby was sent to Knoxville for an elephant propagation project but failed to fully assimilate with others there. Tara was born in East Africa in 1965 and was brought to the Los Angeles Zoo soon after it opened in Griffith Park the following year. Zoo officials said Tara tended to be a loner but was friendly with some other elephants, spending most of her time with Gita, a 46-year-old Asian elephant.


LA Zoo reunites elephants
December 16, 2004 www.latimes.com

The Los Angeles Zoo has reunited two aging elephants, Ruby and Gita, after a long separation, officials said Wednesday. Ruby had been sent to a zoo in Tennessee despite the protests of animal rights advocates who contended that the elephants were best friends and needed to be together. She was brought back from that zoo and quarantined for 30 days. The quarantine ended Tuesday, and the elephants were together Wednesday.


Thai Zoo Charged in Orangutan Smuggling
December 16, 2004 story.news.yahoo.com

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The owners of a Bangkok amusement park, Safari World will be charged with importing endangered animals illegally. DNA tests on 12 young apes confirmed they had not been born in Thailand, forestry police said Thursday. Safari World owner Pin Kiewkacha had admitted previously to possessing 45 of the apes illegally and the new tests took the number of smuggled animals to 57. Animal activists have long alleged that the orangutans, which were used in mock kickboxing shows at the zoo, were smuggled from Borneo or the Sumatran forests of Indonesia. Conservationists and Indonesian authorities have called on the Thai government to return the primates in what has become a high-profile case of wildlife smuggling. Edwin Wiek of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, criticized Thai authorities for failing to shut down Safari World despite police investigations and a raid on the property more than a year ago. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment maintained that Safari World was best equipped to care for the orangutans during the investigation. Schwann Tunhikorn, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Bureau, said "At the zoo they already have the keepers and the food. If we move them, we think the change of environment will cause them emotional strain," he said. Police said they expect to hand the case to prosecutors this month but Wiek said he worried the case was moving too slowly. "The only thing we're worried about is that the case will take years to get to court and be resolved. This means that the orangutan will continue to stay at Safari World, which is completely unacceptable."


Takin Born at St. Louis Zoo
December 16, 2004 www.kansascity.com

A baby takin, weighing in at 25 pounds, was born at the zoo Dec. 3. The takin, a little known relative of the musk ox, is both rare in zoos and threatened in the wild. It's a mountain dweller, native to the dense bamboo forests of northern Asia and shares its remote habitat with the giant panda. The female was named Ting Ting, which means "slim and graceful," in Chinese. She is the third calf for mother Tsow May Dee and father Kiko. The baby is living with her parents and sister, Li, born in 2003, in the zoo's Red Rocks area. There are fewer than 50 takin managed cooperatively in North American zoos. The St. Louis Zoo is one of only 10 to work with this species. Currently, the zoo has two herds of takin - two males and four females, but it soon will be adding another baby. Xie Xie, born at the zoo in 2002, and Bear, who arrived from the San Diego Zoo in 2003, are expecting next spring.


India’s Hybrid Lions Won’t be Bred
December 16, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

More than 300 hybrid lions housed in zoos and safari parks across India will be prevented from reproducing and allowed to die out over the next few years. The country's Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has ordered all establishments holding Asiatic lions which have been mated with African lions to be sterilized so that they become extinct. The authorities say the hybrid lions have weakened the blood pool of India's lions and have turned out to be mangy, emaciated and suffering from mental and physical defects. Officials say it has now been recognized that the breeding program - which started in the late 1970s - has been unsuccessful. Critics say that the breeding programs across India were largely unsupervised over the years. The end result has been a large increase in "cocktail" lions that have been interbred and are genetically weak. The hybrid animals bear characteristics of both species, but are low on immunity and prone to disease. Some are reported to be suffering from tuberculosis.


One in Four Bird Species In Danger
December 16, 2004 us.oneworld.net

A quarter of the world's bird species will likely be extinct or critically endangered by the end of the century, according to a new study by U.S. researchers. This projected extinction wave has implications beyond the fate of individual bird species, the researchers said, as the loss of birds will have negative impacts on the environment and may encourage the spread of human disease. The findings add to growing concern about the planet's biodiversity and echo several other recent studies that indicate conservation efforts are failing. The most recent Red List of Threatened Species, released late last month by IUCN-The World Conservation Union indicates that 12 percent of all bird species, 23 percent of all mammal species, one-third of all amphibian species and 42 percent of all turtles and tortoises are already threatened with extinction. This latest study, considered one of the largest ever of avian biodiversity, centers on analysis of conservation, distribution, ecological function and life history data for all 9,789 living and 129 extinct bird species. "The result is one of the most comprehensive databases of a class of organisms ever compiled," said lead author Cagan Sekercioglu, a researcher at the Stanford Center for Conservation Biology (CCB).


Puget Sound Orcas May Be "Threatened"
December 16, 2004 seattletimes.nwsource.com

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced today that it is recommending that the orcas that ply the Puget Sound should be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision reverses a two-year-old ruling by the agency that this group of orcas, known as the southern residents, aren't different enough from orcas worldwide to be considered an endangered species. It represents a victory for environmental and whale-protection groups who have taken up the distinctive black-and-white whale as a charismatic mascot, and a key indicator of problems in the region's waters. They hope invoking the federal Endangered Species Act will result in closer scrutiny of a lengthy list of human activities that might harm the whales, including boat traffic, use of toxic flame retardants, oil shipping and refining, dam operations and construction near the shoreline. But government officials have said the listing is largely symbolic because the whale already enjoys protections under Washington, U.S. and Canadian law. Unlike the declaration of local salmon runs as threatened, this decision appears to have produced little anxiety among industries that could be affected. The southern-resident orcas, which summer in the Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around Vancouver Island, have declined from 99 whales in 1995 to 85 in 2004, according to the Center for Whale Research.


Spiny Turtle Hatches at Durrell Conservation Trust
December 16, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk

A baby spiny turtle has hatched at the Durrell Conservation Trust in Jersey. It is the first ever spiny turtle to be bred in captivity in Europe - and only the second in the whole world. Spiny turtles, which live in southeast Asia, are extremely threatened in the wild because of habitat loss, hunting and the international pet trade. But the new arrival in Jersey has given conservationists fresh hope that a captive breeding programme might haul the species back from the brink. "Breeding these rare turtles here allows us to study and learn about their breeding ecology and what makes these beautiful, yet complex, animals tick," said Gerardo Garcia of Durrell Wildlife. The diminutive spiny turtle (Heosemys spinosa), which grows to no more than nine inches (22.9 cm) in length, has been causing concern since it was upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN's Red List. Their natural range is through southern Burma, southern Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and several Indonesian islands. But human activity is weakening the species' grip in the wild. In an attempt to divert their almost inevitable slide into extinction, scientists are developing a coordinated protection program. Prior to the new spiny turtle hatching in Jersey, the only successful captive birth and rearing of one of these creatures was in Atlanta Zoo in 1992. "When species are as endangered as the spiny turtle, each individual is like gold dust with a unique genetic profile invaluable to the ongoing survival of the species," said Mr Garcia. Durrell Wildlife believes it has the credentials to run a successful breeding programme thanks to its similar experience with other species.


Evaluating Endangered Species in California
December 16, 2004 www.mercurynews.com

Nearly 300 species, from the Arroyo Southwestern toad to the White sedge, are considered threatened or in danger of extinction in California, yet there has been no recent review whether two-thirds of the plants and animals still merit protection. Every five years, the USFWS is required to consider the 298 species' status under the Endangered Species Act, but it says it's so tied up in competing lawsuits from environmental groups and opponents that most decisions now are driven by judges' orders. Therefore, the Pacific Legal Foundation plans to notify it Friday that it will add a new lawsuit in 60 days unless the agency starts or schedules status reviews on all 198 listed species that have gone unchallenged for five years or more. The suit would be the first of this scope, although environmental groups in Hawaii sued the service in the late 1990s to force critical habitat consideration for about 300 species there. California is second to Hawaii in the number of protected species.


Swasiland’s indigenous tree crisis
December 16, 2004 www.alertnet.org

Swaziland's diminishing indigenous tree species will be exhausted within 20 years at the current rate of exploitation, nature conservationists warned this week. Unlike commercial timber forests in the central Manzini and northern Hhohho regions, whose trees can be grown and harvested in 12 to 30 years, the loss of indigenous African trees cannot be mitigated. "This disappearance of Swaziland's fuel wood is imminent in some areas, while other areas face the extinction of all indigenous trees in a matter of years, based on the rate of current consumption and the new commercial exploitation of fuel woods," said Ted Reilly, the founder of Swaziland game park system. After the indigenous trees are gone, invasive species will also disappear as Swazis search for ways to cook meals and heat their shelters in winter, conservationists predict. Four out of five Swazis live on communal Swazi Nation Land under chiefs, most of them in a state of chronic poverty, according to the UN Development Programme. Electrification is rare among rural residents, and fuel sources other than wood are virtually unknown. The doubling of the country's population since independence in 1968, to around one million, has exacerbated the ecological crisis.


Safari World Animal Trafficking
December 16, 2004 www.phnompenhpost.com

The Safari World animal park in Koh Kong Province - which has a checkered track record dealing with wild animals - has been asked to apply for retroactive import permits for 22 orangutans allegedly smuggled in from Thailand, or risk having the animals confiscated. On November 10, the Cambodian office for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), sent a letter to Ly Yong Phat, the owner of Safari World's parent company Koh Kong International Resort Casino, inviting him to begin the application process. If there is no response, a second and third letter will be issued before the animals are confiscated by the Forestry Administration (FA) and conservation NGO WildAid, said a Cambodian CITES officer, who asked not to named. In January last year the park received a letter from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Chan Sarun, giving a general approval for the orangutans' import but requested the Forestry Administration and CITES be involved in transporting and caring for the animals. "After they got the approval they do themselves s they just ignore the process," said the CITES officer about the "illegal import."


Protection Sought for Arizona Snakes
December 16, 2004 www.dailystar.com

Local environmentalists are pushing to get two very different snakes protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity and Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday to list the sand-loving Tucson shovel-nosed snake. The center is also suing on behalf of the Mexican garter snake, a riparian species that was common in Downtown Tucson before wells sucked the Santa Cruz River dry last century. Both snakes are in sharp decline and deserve federal protection, said Phil Rosen, a University of Arizona herpetologist. Cienega Creek, southeast of Tucson, has become the U.S. stronghold for the garter snake, which was collected a century ago around Phoenix and along the Gila and lower Colorado rivers, he said. "It's a lowland riparian and permanent water aquatic species. That's the habitat type that's been most severely impacted by conversion to lakes or direct desiccation from groundwater pumping," he said. Garter snakes also have been decimated by non-native predators, such as bullfrogs, which are gaining a toehold in parts of Mexico where garter snakes still live, Rosen said. By contrast, the shovel-nosed snake loves arid areas and swims through loose soil on its way to eating centipedes, scorpions and spiders. Much of its habitat lies between fast-growing Phoenix and Tucson.


Crocodile Hunter’s Dugong Campaign
December 16, 2004 news.yahoo.com

The animated TV entertainer, Steve Irwin, has launched a campaign to save Australia’s endangered dugongs. Dozens of dugongs die each year when they're caught in boat propellers while feeding on sea grass in shallow waters. Irwin encouraged children to tell their boating parents to give way to dugongs, whose gray-brown bodies taper into a dolphin-like tail and which may have been mistaken for mermaids by ancient sailors. "Kids, if you are going out there with mum and dad fishing and you see a dugong, go, `Crikey! Have a look at that! Here's where the mermaid legend came from and they are right here, right in our bay,'" Irwin said Wednesday at the campaign launch in a coastal suburb of the Queensland state capital, Brisbane.


Climate Change Affecting Wildlife
December 16, 2004 www.duluthsuperior.com

A report released Wednesday by the Wildlife Society, a professional group of scientists, wildlife managers and researchers, warns that many North American wildlife species face an uncertain future, changing habitat, shifting home ranges and extinction because of global climate change. Their 2-year study of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific reports, warns that some forests will entirely transform as native trees die off and others move north. And there will be major shifts in wildlife ranges along with restructuring of plant and animal ecosystems, including around the Great Lakes. "Every species of wildlife and every species of plant will react in its own way to climate change. The problem is that the ecosystem is dependent on all those species working together," Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation senior science adviser, said Wednesday in a national teleconference. "We're essentially tearing apart the fabric of these complex ecological systems." The Wildlife Society report, "Global Climate Change and Wildlife in North America," says that "there is sufficient evidence to indicate that many species are already responding to warming," and that animals and plants are changing their range to account for a warming climate.


American pika populations disappearing
December 16, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

WWF-funded research by Dr. Erik Beever of the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that American pika populations in the Great Basin region are continuing to disappear as the Earth's climate warms. "Population by population, we're witnessing some of the first contemporary examples of global warming apparently contributing to the local extinction of an American mammal at sites across an entire ecoregion," said Dr. Beever, an ecologist at the USGS and lead researcher. In a follow-up field study to research published in the February 2003 Journal of Mammalogy, American pika (Ochotona princeps) populations were detected at only five out of seven re-surveyed sites that possessed pikas in Beever's research in the mid- to late-1990s. The original research documented local extinctions at seven of twenty-five sites in the Great Basin – the area between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. The recent re-sampling brings the total number of sites at which American pika populations have suffered local extinction to nine out of twenty-five or 36 percent. Continued loss of populations raises concern, as does the fact that these results and other lines of evidence suggest that many of the losses have occurred towards the more recent end of the 14 to 91-year period since their scientific discovery.


London Zoo’s £1million revamp
December 16, 2004 woodandvale.london24.net

THE enclosure for small mammals at London Zoo has been earmarked for a £1million revamp. The renovation grant - funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation - will upgrade the existing building, enlarge the animal areas to provide more space for natural behaviour and enhance the visitor experience with interactive exhibits. The focus of the new Clore Centre will be a South American rainforest, giving the zoo an opportunity to show visitors the diversity of forest species and the importance of conserving their habitat. The small mammal house at Regent's Park Zoo was first opened in 1967, and was acclaimed as a revolutionary animal facility. The centre will close in October 2005 and re-open in the spring of 2007. The Zoological Society of London - the charity that operates London Zoo - will oversee the renovation.


Petting Zoo Source of E. coli
December 16, 2004 www.nbc17.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- State health officials announced Thursday that they have pinpointed a petting zoo as the source of an E. coli outbreak that sickened dozens of people that attended the State Fair two months ago. Through extensive environmental testing and genetic fingerprinting, public health investigators have linked many of the cases to the Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo. Investigators reported 108 likely E. coli cases in people that had attended the Oct. 15-24 fair in Raleigh. Forty-three of those cases were confirmed by lab tests. Thirty-three of the confirmed cases had identical genetic fingerprints, and those fingerprints matched positive E. coli samples from the Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo site, officials said. The outbreak genetic strain was not identified in environmental specimens collected at other areas of the State Fair grounds. "The genetic fingerprinting supports our extensive epidemiological study, which relied on looking at people who got sick along with those who did not," state epidemiologist Dr. Jeffrey Engel said. An employee of Crossroads Farm, in the Chatham County town of Bear Creek, said owner Jason Wilkie was referring calls to his attorney, Walter Brock. Brock said Wilkie cooperated with inspectors, and that his goats, sheep, llamas, water buffalo, camel and zebra were inspected by a veterinarian for contagious diseases before the fair.


Hummingbirds lose power at high altitudes
December 16, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Researchers put nearly 1,000 Peruvian hummers through lifting trials and flight tests over a two-year stretch in order to find out how their flying abilities are affected by the lower oxygen and thin air of higher elevations. The results, appear in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Online Early Edition, and show a clear decline in hummingbirds' lifting ability with altitude, not unlike that seen in athletes competing at high elevations. What this means for hummingbirds is less reserve power for the bursts of flight needed to chase off competitors or escape from predators, said researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology. "The costs of hovering flight are the same across elevations because hummingbirds compensate by having larger wings and by having a larger stroke amplitude," said study leader Douglas Altshuler, a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. "However, that compensation doesn't come for free. They don't have as much excess power at high elevations as they do at low elevations. The power margin decreases at higher elevation, primarily because the stroke amplitude of the wing increases to account for the thinner air. If the bird can only flex its wings through a maximum of 180 degrees, that leaves less power available for other things, like ascending and chasing.


Rampaging African Elephants
December 16, 2004 www.enn.com

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa — There are no easy answers when it comes to keeping the world's largest land mammal in check. A century ago, southern Africa's elephants were driven close to extinction by indiscriminate ivory hunting. Now there are so many of them that experts say they are threatening the environment. South Africa National Parks (Sanparks) says it may have no choice but to resume culling in the Kruger National Park, which is home to most of the country's roughly 17,000 elephants. The practice was halted in 1994 amid protests from animal rights activists. "It (culling) remains an option," Sanparks head David Mabunda told Reuters on the sidelines of a recent meeting to discuss the issue. "What I have seen ... is the total decimation of a number of big trees in the park ... Impalas don't push trees or uproot them and eat their roots, elephants do and you can see it all over the park," Mabunda said. Less than 5,000 elephants roamed south of the Zambezi River at the turn of the century, but now Kruger alone has 12,000. Experts say if left unchecked that population could explode over the next decade.


The Wild Southern California
December 16, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

Wildlife enthusiasts in southern California have focused their binoculars on the skies since Nov. 1, when the first wild-born condor chick in 22 years officially fledged in the state. Now, they're turning their sights in other directions, with national wildlife refuges just a short holiday drive from some major southern California cities.

Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge: Located in the Imperial Valley about 120 miles east of San Diego, in one of the hottest and driest places in the U.S., the Salton Sea is 227 feet below sea level, but the refuge is a birdwatcher's delight. As many as 30,000 snow, Ross's, and Canada geese spend the winter at this critical migration oasis. Visitors can see as many as 60,000 ducks from November through February. The refuge has documented 407 bird species, including more than 100 species that breed on the refuge. Other delights await visitors: Ninety percent or more of North America's eared grebes -- as many as 3.5 million birds -- depend on the area. The area supports the major western North America wintering population of 16,000 - 19,000 white-faced ibis. About 40 percent of the endangered Yuma clapper rail population in the U.S. lives in the area. The Salton Sea area supports the largest population of wintering snowy plovers in the interior of western North America. Look for such endangered species as the southern bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and California brown pelican. For more information about the refuge, call 760-348-5278

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge: Established in 2000, the national wildlife refuge encompasses one of the largest coastal dune systems left in California. Located in the heart of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve in San Luis Obispo County, the refuge protects breeding habitat for the endangered California least tern, California red-legged frog and the threatened Western snowy plover.

In season, visitors can see large flocks of brown pelicans and a pair of peregrine falcons. Although not quite as visible, healthy populations of mule deer, bobcat and mountain lion also are on the refuge, which boasts large flocks of wintering shore birds and waterfowl. Visitors can hike into the refuge from state land, either the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes County Park on the south or the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area on the north. Once on the national wildlife refuge, they can hike, observe wildlife or surf fish. For more information, visit www.dunescenter.org or call 805-343-2455.

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex: San Diego National Wildlife Refuge - Established in 1997, the 8,063-acre refuge in southwestern San Diego County is the cornerstone of conservation and habitat protection for the State of California Natural Communities Conservation Planning Program and San Diego's Multiple Species Conservation Plan, both of which will help recover sensitive species and reduce the need to list more species in southwestern San Diego County. The refuge conserves coastal sage and chaparral habitat and is home to many endangered birds, plants, reptiles, and invertebrates. Species include the least Bell's vireo, California gnatcatcher, Quino checkerspot butterfly and the San Diego horned lizard. Visitors can enjoy wildlife observation, photography and hiking, among other activities. For more information: 619-669-7295

San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Sweetwater Marsh Unit - The-316 acre Sweetwater Marsh is the largest remaining salt marsh in San Diego Bay. It supports a variety of resident and migratory wildlife species, such as the endangered light-footed clapper rail and the state-listed Belding's savannah sparrow. Chula Vista Nature Center, run in partnership with the City of Chula Vista, offers interactive exhibits that explain the marsh habitat, guided nature and bird walks, a shark and ray exhibit, and the chance to see native birds, such as burrowing owls, shorebirds, egrets, herons and a variety of raptors in outdoor aviaries.

South San Diego Bay Unit: Dedicated in June 1999, this refuge preserves the remaining wetlands, mudflats and eel grass beds to ensure that the bay's thousands of migrating and resident shorebirds and waterfowl can enjoy a healthy and abundant habitat. Due to its importance to migratory birds, this refuge has been designated a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. For more information: 619-575-2704.

Tijuana SloughNational Wildlife Refuge - Home to many endangered birds, the 1,051-acre wetland sits where the Tijuana River meets the sea. It is southern California's only coastal lagoon not bisected by roads and rail lines. The refuge includes open water, tidal salt marsh, beach dunes, riparian, vernal pool and upland habitats surrounded by residential neighborhoods It is also part of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of only 22 such research reserves in the U.S. More than 370 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge and in the neighboring river valley. The endangered California least tern, least bell's vireo, California brown pelican, light-footed clapper rail and an endangered plant called the Salt Marsh Bird's Beak, can be found on the refuge. The western snowy plover, a threatened species, is a year-round resident on refuge beaches. For more information: 619-575-2704.

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge: Just 30 miles south of Los Angeles and part of the San Diego Refuge Complex, Seal Beach Refuge, located within the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, covers 911 acres of remnant saltwater marsh in the Anaheim Bay estuary. See waves of wintering shorebirds at the refuge, which sits along the Pacific Flyway. As urban sprawl degrades wildlife habitats, the refuge is essential for two endangered species: the light-footed clapper rail and the California least tern. Visitors can also see California brown pelicans and peregrine falcons. For more information: 562-598-1024.

For more information about California condors, go to hoppermountain.fws.gov.


Florida Moves to Save Oceans
December 17, 2004 www.sun-sentinel.com

While the Bush administration prepares to unveil a revitalized national policy to safeguard the oceans, Florida is moving ahead with its own initiative to preserve coastal resources, starting with coral reefs that hug the South Florida shore. The administration is required by law to respond by Monday to more than 200 recommendations by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. The commission report in April proposed spending billions of dollars to implement a science-based policy to stem pollution, prevent erosion, restrict development, limit fish harvests and preserve ecosystems. While federal officials devise their policy, Florida already has responded with measures designed to preserve its bounteous coastal resources – In March the Legislature adopted Gov. Jeb Bush's proposal to spend $1 million for an Oceans Initiative and added $400,000 to restore coral reefs off the coasts of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The federal government matched the $400,000 for the reef project, which targets shallow coral areas along an urban corridor north of larger reefs that are sheltered by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "What we've done is take coastal management, basically of beaches, and spun it outward into the ocean beyond the beach," said Russell Schweiss, spokesman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.


Global Warming Threatens Crane Migration
December 17, 2004 www.theindependent.com

The annual spring migration of sandhill cranes along the Platte River could be in jeopardy if global warming trends continue, according to a study released this week by the National Wildlife Federation. Every year, 500,000 sandhill cranes and other wildlife, including the endangered whooping crane, stop along the Platte from Grand Island to Lexington to fatten up before flying to nesting grounds near the Arctic Circle. Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation senior science adviser and chairman of the eight-person committee that wrote the report, said that while the report didn't directly address sandhill cranes, global climate change is a "legitimate" threat to the annual crane migration. A drastic change in climate is not something to "worry about in terms of the next 10 to 15 years," said Dan Kim, avian ecologist for the Platte River Whooping Crane Trust near Alda. Inkley said average global temperatures during the next 100 years could increase anywhere from 2 degrees to 10 degrees. When you have hotter temperatures, you have greater respiration from the plants and just plain old evaporation of soil moisture. The disruption of migration patterns could be the result of cues birds are receiving thousands of miles away, Kim said. "It's something they are picking up on that has nothing to do with the weather in Nebraska," he said. More likely, Kim said, those disruptions would impact the timing of when the birds would begin their annual migration. The time sandhill cranes spend in Nebraska may actually be shorter. They may head north sooner because those breeding areas will warm up sooner and provide more food than in the past. Global Climate Change and Wildlife in North America is available in PDF format at: www.nwf.org/news


Snowy Plover Protection Plan
December 17, 2004 www.gazettetimes.com

OREGON – A state panel endorsed a plan Thursday for protecting the threatened western snowy plover that could lead to new restrictions on such activities as driving, kite flying and playing with dogs on about 20 percent of the coast's sandy beaches. The state Parks and Recreation Commission approved the plan but held off on imposing new rules pending federal actions. The plan goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval and for its drafting of an environmental impact statement, which officials said could take up to two years. The state regulates beach activity to protect the bird along 17 miles of the southern coast, where recreational uses have been restricted since 1993. The plover was listed under the federal Endangered Species Act that year and under the state's similar law in 1987. The small bird lays eggs in the sand, where they are easily destroyed. Delaying the added restrictions allows for uncertainties about the legal status of the plover, said Dave Wright, natural resources management planning chief for the state Parks and Recreation Department. A lawsuit seeking to remove the snowy plover from the federal list is pending in federal court in Sacramento. Some Oregon coastal county commissioners are angered by the beach controls and contend the plover isn't endangered. The plan includes possible restrictions on the more heavily used northern coast. The regulations are part of the state's effort to avoid liability. It could be sued for an illegal "taking" of a protected species if the government allowed beach uses that harmed the birds. The plan takes in a total of 32 miles of coastal segments that include "occupied" areas, where plovers have established nesting sites. The other 16 miles include "unoccupied" areas, where scientists believe the birds are most likely to establish new nests, Wright said. Those include the popular Necanicum, Nehalem and Netarts areas on the north coast.


National Zoo Director Search Reopened
December 17, 2004 www.washingtonpost.com

The Smithsonian Institution has reopened its search for a National Zoo director and will put one of its top managers in charge of the animal park until a replacement is found for departing Director Lucy H. Spelman, officials said. David L. Evans, the Smithsonian's undersecretary for science, said in an e-mail to zoo employees Wednesday evening that he will serve as interim director because the search committee he heads has not found a successor to Spelman, who is leaving this month. The Smithsonian, which oversees the zoo, had hoped to have a new director in place by Jan. 1. "I believe that it is more important to find the right person to serve as director than to meet an arbitrary deadline," Evans said in the e-mail. A 10-member advisory search panel has interviewed several of the strongest applicants for zoo director, Evans said, but "none had the combination of experience and skills that we are seeking. . . . Therefore, the search will continue." The Smithsonian plans to hire a professional firm to help expand the scope of its search, said Evans, who will become interim zoo director Jan. 1. Spelman, the zoo's former head veterinarian, was named director in 2000 of the 163-acre animal park in Northwest Washington. She was picked by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small to revitalize the zoo, even though she was not among the original applicants screened by a Smithsonian search committee.


Pandas face food shortage in their reserve
December 17, 2004 www.dailynews.co.za

Beijing: A shortage of the staple food of China's giant panda will leave 19 of the rare animals scrounging to keep hunger at bay for as long as a decade in a reserve in the mountainous southwest. Pandas are unable to eat arrow bamboo when the plant flowers, meaning the animals will have little to eat in the area for the next 10 years, the minimum period for the plant to become edible again. "The blossoming area now accounts for 20% to 25% of the habitat of giant pandas in the reserve," Xinhua news agency said, quoting a report on the Piankou Nature Reserve, which includes a panda habitat of 3 750 sq km. China estimates that 1 750 giant pandas, naturally fussy eaters, live in the foggy mountains of the southwestern Sichuan basin. About 140 live in captivity around the world. Logging has been the biggest threat to the endangered panda, destroying its habitat of forests with undergrowth of bamboo. Li Zuobin, a wildlife specialist in the region, said the forestry bureau of Mianyang, the city that runs the Piankou reserve, had been preparing for the worst for the 19 pandas. "Giant pandas in serious condition will be rushed to two neighbouring giant panda research and breeding areas," Li was quoted as saying.


National Zoo’s Orangutan Breeding Program
December 17, 2004 www.nbc4.com

Two new orangutans are now taking up residence as part of a breeding program. The 8-year-old male and 7-year-old female are on loan from other zoos. They're being gradually introduced to the one male and two female orangutans already in the ape house. National Zoo officials say fewer than 30,000 orangutans are believed to be living in the wild, where their life span is about 35 years.


Hawaii’s New Orang Exhibit
December 17, 2004 www.kpua.net

A groundbreaking ceremony at the Honolulu Zoo yesterday began work on a new enclosure for Rusti the orangutan. Birute Galdikuas, a world-renowned expert on orangutans, says Rusti will live in one of the best zoo enclosures in the nation. The enclosure will resemble Rusti's Borneo habitat and will include a Banyan tree he can climb. The 24-year-old animal came to the zoo in 1997 after the Orangutan Foundation International helped remove him from what it considered unacceptable conditions at a private zoo in New Jersey. He was supposed to stay at the zoo in a 600-square-foot cage for only six months, but various plans for a larger, permanent home fell through. Zoo director Ken Redman says Rusti is the zoo's most popular animal.


Hunters requested to use unleaded ammo
December 17, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

A contingent of environmental activists led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity is asking all California hunters to get the lead out. If the groups have their way, lead ammunition will be phased out of California hunting very soon to protect California Condors, eagles and other wildlife. Federal law prohibits waterfowlers from using lead shot. The groups filed a "petition" (actually a request) yesterday in Sacramento asking that the California Fish and Game Commission "phase out lead ammunition, including bullets and shot, for all hunting in the state." They're asking that lead shot be banned immediately within California condor habitat (south central California) on an "emergency basis. We're just asking people to do the sensible thing and shift over to nontoxic, nonlead ammunition that doesn't impact the environment, wildlife and human beings." Some scientists and environmental groups say condors, listed as a state-and federally protected endangered species, are not recovering in California because they're feeding on lead-laced carcasses or gut piles. The lead also could poison bald eagles, golden eagles and other wildlife.


Sonoran Pronghorn Survey & Capture
December 17, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

The Sonoran pronghorn was listed as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act. Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge wildlife biologist and Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Team Coordinator Mike Coffeen and biologists with the Arizona Game and Fish Department are excited with the prospects for success in the recovery effort. The numbers of endangered Sonoran pronghorn on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding lands indicate significant improvement from the previous survey taken in 2002. Last week the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with the U.S.F.W.S., National Park Service, Air Force and Marine Corps conducted a biennial survey and capture of Sonoran pronghorn, the United States’ most endangered land mammal. Surveyors observed 39 animals, a substantial increase from the 18 counted in 2002, when one of the most severe droughts on record eliminated 90% of the U.S. population.


Climate threat most serious for Africa
December 17, 2004 www.scidev.net

Africa's lack of scientific and technological capacity means it is less prepared for the effects of climate change than any other continent, says a report released by the UK government yesterday (16 December). "The African Climate Report" assesses the status of knowledge of climate systems in Africa and recommends actions to help the continent face the threat of climate change. It lists a variety of "options for collective actions" that could be implemented in the short and medium term to help address Africa's vulnerability to climate change. These include ways of strengthening research capacity so that observing, modeling and predicting climate can improve. The report suggests creating a training fund for African climatologists and establishing a regional climate centre backed by the World Meteorological Organization. Other potential initiatives include creating an international research program on African climate and its relation to sustainable development, possibly by establishing a specialist institute. The causes of climate change are global, and largely brought about by greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized nations. Africa is not in a position to address these, says Declan Conway, who researches African climate change at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom and is one of the report's authors.The full report may be seen at: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/ccafrica-study/pdf/africa-climate.pdf


Birds of Paradise Seized from smugglers
December 17, 2004 thestar.com.my

Wildlife officers seized 20 endangered birds believed to have been smuggled into a central Malaysian state, an official said Friday. The seized Birds of Paradise were temporarily in the custody of the Wildlife and National Parks Department, said its enforcement director, Misliah Mohamad Bashir. She declined to divulge details of the raid or the case, citing the ongoing investigation. The Bird of Paradise is known for it's trailing plumes, colorful collars, velvet-like feathers and fiery hues. It is native to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia's Irian Jaya and parts of Australia, and is popular among collectors. The Worldwide Fund for Nature lists about 42 species of Birds of Paradise, 36 of which are unique to Papua New Guinea. Three are faced with the threat of extinction. "These birds were almost certainly smuggled in because our department does not issue any (import) permits for them. It is endangered," Misliah said. "We are concerned that smugglers mislead collectors or the public into thinking the birds were brought in legally," she said. Any trade, locally, of protected species that are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, must receive permission and license from Malaysia's wildlife department.


Most Shark Attacks are Mistakes
December 18, 2004 www.manilatimes.net

According to records kept by Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, there have been some 190 fatal shark attacks in Australia over the past 200 years. South Australian shark researcher Andrew Fox, whose father survived a great white attack more than 40 years ago, said sharks were unlikely to deliberately target humans. He said they most likely mistake them for sea mammals such as seals, then spit them out once they realize their mistake. "We [humans] don’t have the energy content of dolphins, whales and snappers," he said. "They don’t tend to become rogue sharks because there has never been a case when a shark has taken a liking to eating people." The problem with great whites, also known as white pointers, is that they are so powerful that their "test" bite is often fatal, sometimes ripping the victim in half. Less than one in three sharks attacks are normally fatal but Fox said the proportion rose to one in two in South Australia, scene of a killing Thursday, because of its high numbers of great whites. The giant killing machines, which can grow up to eight meters (26 feet) long, are believed responsible for the deaths of two surfers in as many days off South Australia’s rugged west coast on September 2000. Last July another surfer was killed off Western Australia in a rare joint attack by a pair of great whites, one of which was described as "the size of a car." Little is known about the migratory or breeding habits of the great white, but numbers have been falling in recent years and the species is protected under Australian law.


Condor Lead Poisoning
December 18, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Separate studies for the state and federal wildlife agencies last year found condor lead poisoning increased during the fall hunting season. A problem has been hunters who leave an estimated 30,000 unburied carcasses or entrails across the condor's range, which are eaten by the scavengers. But state condor preservation officials said survival is at an all-time high. Also, hunting regulations aren't up for routine review until 2007, leaving it uncertain if they will consider the plea from the activists who say traditional ammunition is too toxic. The next commission meeting is in February. "We were losing a half-dozen to a dozen a year either to death or having to bring them in (to captivity) for bad behavior or something," said Fish and Game Department biologist Ron Jurek, a member of the California Condor Recovery Team. But none has died in 14 months. "We've never had such good survival. Things are looking up now." Part is due to better management of the condors, including keeping them away from carcasses killed with lead bullets, Jurek said. Most condors are tracked with radio collars, allowing managers to spot sick birds and recapture them for treatment. And veterinarians are better able to treat acute lead poisoning, as they are doing now with a condor in Arizona.


Gorilla returns to SF to mate
December 18, 2004 www.sfgate.com

A 23-year-old ape from Buffalo has returned to the San Francisco Zoo, his boyhood home, as the new king of Gorilla World. In early January, he'll be liberated from quarantine and become the exhibit's top dog, filling a vacancy created in May when Kubi, its longtime patriarch, died. Since then, the four females have been left to their own devices. Anything, or nothing, could happen. "They've been on their own without a male for a while," said gorilla keeper Mary Kerr. "They might have gotten the independent gene and not want to be dominated anymore. We'll see when he comes over whether his animal magnetism overcomes their independent streak." The gorilla from upstate New York, who answers to OJ, was born in July 1981 at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, moved to San Francisco in November 1982 and shuffled off to Buffalo in March 1987, where he was officially renamed "Rich" because the city's Rich Products Corp. sponsored him. The ape will acquire yet another moniker at some point, said Dr. Freeland Dunker, head vet at the San Francisco Zoo. "OJ is kind of a problematic name in California," Aquilina said. In San Francisco, his half-sibling Zura, also 23, and Bwang, 24, will be put on the pill, although not 46-year-old Pogo, who is too old to care. However, 6-year-old Nneka is likely to become a mate -- though her mother, Bwang, might help raise any grandchildren and could herself breed with OJ someday.


Business Influencing Dept. Of Interior
December 19, 2004 www.mercurynews.com

A series of e-mails and telephone calls related to two high-profile environmental decisions in California has prompted criticism that business interests may be gaining too much influence over the U.S. Interior Department. According to court records, Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Julie MacDonald tried to change scientific recommendations related to protecting wetland species and endangered fish. In the first instance, the correspondence was between MacDonald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers and the California Farm Bureau Federation in April. A month later, the federation used the information to back a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., seeking to overturn the service's decision continuing protection for the delta smelt. MacDonald sent an e-mail to regional officials in California disputed that they could reasonably estimate the remaining population of the tiny fish, which federal biologists had determined is in danger of extinction. She then telephoned the farm bureau's chief lawyer and read her the e-mail, providing the farm bureau with a printout of the e-mail the same day. Environmental groups say such contacts suggest top-level administrators at the nation's land management agencies care more about business interests than the wildlife they're assigned to protect.


Changing Rules May Endanger Wildlife
Dec 19, 2004 info.mgnetwork.com

TAMPA - The manatee, peregrine falcon and other vulnerable wild animals in Florida could lose many of their protections if the state adopts new rules on how species are listed as threatened or endangered, conservation groups say. Conservationists are lined up against business and development groups, in a struggle over how the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission applies new guidelines for listing animals. Those business groups have complained for years that the state lists animals without hard scientific evidence showing the species are in danger of extinction. The new rules will be based on measurements developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a respected scientific body that monitors the health of the world's species. The conservationists complain that Fish and Wildlife staffers did not properly match the state's three categories of imperiled species - endangered, threatened and species of special concern - with groupings used by the international commission. Florida will use the criteria from the international commission's "critically endangered'' category for the state's "endangered'' list.


Controlled Extinction of Hybrid Lions in India
December 19, 2004 www.htnext.com

Indian scientists have carried out vasectomies on scores of cross-bred lions, the results of experiments to create new sub-species, to let them die out in a "controlled extinction". All 300 captive animals, a mix of Asian and African lions many of whom are deformed and diseased, are expected to be dead by 2008, scientists said. "The law of the land does not allow for mercy killing or culling," said Bipul Chakravarty, a senior scientist of Central Zoo Authority. Authorities say the animals were crossbred until 1992 in free-for-all experiments, weakening the genetic pool of Indian cats. The experiments even extended to mating lions with tigers. "Until we made guidelines 12 years ago, some were experimenting, producing ‘Tigons’ by mating tigers with lionesses and ‘Litigons’ by crossing lions with tigresses. None of these are now living," the wildlife scientist said. As problems of crossbreeding became apparent, "Zoos with hybrids were asked to take population control measures as these animals have no conservation value at all."


Book Review : Phil Robinson’s "Life at the Zoo"
December 19, 2004 www.fortwayne.com by Julia M. Klein

Zoos are museums of living animals, and often much more. Popular displays of exotic creatures such as koalas and pandas evoke the zoo’s origins as a circus menagerie designed primarily to amuse. At the same time, many zoos are now intensely serious-minded: laboratories for scientific research, advocates for wildlife conservation and even breeding grounds for endangered species. This functional diversity means that zoos, even good ones, can be the site of intense rivalries and ideological debates. Some sense of this fractiousness emerges intermittently from Phillip T. Robinson’s "Life at the Zoo." But Robinson, former director of veterinary medicine at the celebrated San Diego Zoo, doesn’t aim to be the Thomas Hoving of the zoo profession, blowing the lid off the field. This rambling, mostly good-humored encomium to zoos and the doctors who service them is unlikely to rattle many cages.


Wild Animal Park Festival of Lights
December 19, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

San Diego Wild Animal Park Festival of Lights: More than 100,000 lights will brighten the park this season. Features include a 52- foot train, 9-foot-tall nutcrackers, an animated horse and buggy, a cartwheeling gingerbread man and more. Holiday crafts for children, caroling and storytelling are planned. Through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26- 30. Park gates are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. with festival hours from 4 to 9 p.m. The festival is free with park admission of $26.50 adults, $23.85 seniors 60 and up, $19.50 children 3-11, free to military in uniform with valid ID. (760) 796-5621.


Po'ouli: Farewell
December 19, 2004 www.nytimes.com by Editorial by Lawrence Downes

The people who try to save endangered species in Hawaii are immune to despair. They have to be, to keep doing what they do. They dangle on ropes from 3,000-foot sea cliffs on Molokai to brush pollen on a flower whose only natural pollinator - some unknown bird or insect - has died out. They trudge into remote forests to play taped bird calls, hoping that a survivor of a vanished species will reply. Or they capture and tend one small bird, old for its kind and missing an eye, then spend fruitless months searching for another to be its mate. That bird, a po'ouli, the last known member of its genus and species, died in its cage on Maui on Nov. 26. The news, briefly noted in the papers, was another milestone in a long-running environmental catastrophe that is engulfing the islands. Hawaii does not look like an ecological disaster area. It's too lush and sunny, too green and blue. But the state's natural splendor masks a brutal, often desperate battle against extinction. The islands' native animals and plants, many found nowhere else in the world, evolved in splendid isolation for millenniums. But in the two centuries since Captain Cook, their numbers have plunged. Of the more than 1,200 animals and plants on the federal list of threatened and endangered species, one-fourth - 317 - are Hawaiian.


Baby Mountain Gorilla Recovered
December 20 2004 www.nytimes.com

Police have arrested four suspected poachers and recovered a baby mountain gorilla that was stolen from its family in the forests of neighboring Congo, a spokesman said Monday. Police detained the men Saturday following a tip that they had smuggled the 3-year- old primate into the border district of Mutura, in Rwanda's northwestern Gisenyi province, said Dismas Rutaganira, who led the police operation. The animal was hidden in a sack and was being taken to unknown buyers in Kenya, Rutaganira said. The suspects said that the baby was stolen from gorillas accustomed to visits by humans in Congo, said Fidele Ruzigandekwe, head of the Rwanda Wildlife Agency. Gorillas are fiercely protective of their young, and the baby was stolen after two of the suspects drugged adult members of the group by feeding them intoxicated bananas, Rutaganira said. Rwandan wildlife officials have alerted their Congolese counterparts to verify if any gorilla is missing from the known groups, Ruzigandekwe said. The gorilla is in a stable condition under the care of wildlife experts in Rwanda. It will be taken back to Congo once wildlife experts find its family, Ruzigandekwe said.


Snail Protection in Manitoba
December 20, 2004 www.canada.com

WINNIPEG - Manitobans rallying to save a species of snail from extinction hope protecting the tiny mollusc will also improve the water quality of Lake Winnipeg. Formal protection would make it illegal to harm the snails or their habitat. University of Winnipeg biologist Eva Pip suspects poor water quality is partly responsible for killing off the snails. She estimates there are less than 10,000 of the endangered snails left, all along Lake Winnipeg's shoreline. Other species, such as the tadpole snail, number in the many millions around the lake. The Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners wants the snail, which is found at only four known sites, to be protected. Protecting the endangered snail might require cottage owners not to move boulders where it has been found.


Red Deer Dies of TB at Lahore Zoo
December 20, 2004 www.dailytimes.com.pk

PAKISTAN: The Lahore Zoo has lost a male red deer to Tuberculosis (TB), Wildlife Department sources told Daily Times on Monday. It may be recalled that two endangered animals, a chimpanzee and a Bengal tiger, died in October. Sources said the deer had been sick for several days and died some days ago. Muhammad Nasir Saleem, the deputy director of the zoo, confirmed the deer’s death but said that because the zoo had not received the post mortem report from the Veterinary Research Institute (VRI), the cause of death could not be ascertained. He said that the deer had probably died from TB. Mr Saleem said that a female red deer was also suffering from the same disease and was being treated. He said that TB was a contagious disease and could spread to other animals if they were kept together. He added that the ailing dear had been quarantined. Raja Javed, the director of the zoo, contradicted Mr Saleem by saying the post mortem report had been received and proved the deer died of TB. He added the female deer (which Mr Saleem said was suffering from TB) was in good health. Lahore Zoo lost Tinku, an endangered chimpanzee, to illness in October. In the same month another endangered animal, a Bengal tiger also died of illness. Zoo authorities said that the tiger had eaten sharp bones, which had caused deep cuts in its stomach.


"Extinct" Reptiles Uncovered in Iran
December 20, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com By Stefan Lovgren

During their expeditions to Iran in the mid-1970s, Swedish zoologists Göran Nilson and Claes Andrén of Göteborg University were amazed to find dozens of unknown amphibians and reptiles. Then came the 1979 Islamic revolution, which put Iran off-limits to Western scientists. But in 2000, Narullah Rastegar-Pouyani—an Iranian student at Göteborg University who was doing his dissertation on Iran's reptiles—arranged for the two scientists to get back inside the country for two expeditions in 2000 and 2002. In addition to finding ten more lizards and snakes, the scientists discovered an isolated population of vipers (Vipera latifii). Zoologists had feared that the species had gone extinct when a new dam had flooded the viper's habitat in the late 1970s. They also collected 82 species of the 230 amphibians and reptiles that were known to exist in Iran. Funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, the researchers hope to piece together a better picture of Iran's herpetofauna (the diversity of amphibians and reptiles). While 20 percent of the reptiles in Iran may still be undiscovered, some species may have already gone extinct.


Thai Elephants ambush food trucks
December 20, 2004 www.enn.com

Elephants in a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Thailand are using their oversize bodies as road blocks, ambushing vehicles transporting sugar cane, tapioca and fruit, the sanctuary's chief says. The estimated 200 elephants in the Khao-Ang Rue-Ni sanctuary turn desperate -- and wily -- in the dry season, when water and food supplies shrink. It's then that the animals stage their heists, Yuo Senatham said. Conveniently enough for the elephants, the dry season is also when hundreds of trucks travel through their lands, laden with newly harvested tapioca and sugar cane. According to Yuo, a herd leader usually emerges from the jungle at dusk to block the road. When a vehicle stops, other elephants move in for the feast. Signs urging motorists not to feed the elephants don't seem to be doing the trick. "It's like the drivers are bribing the elephants -- otherwise the elephants won't allow trucks to pass through," Yuo said. The elephants, who have never hurt a motorist, sound a general retreat when wildlife officials arrive to scare them away with spotlights. The sanctuary chief says he can't prevent the elephants from roaming near the road because the area used to belong to them. "What we can do is prevent them from getting hurt and hurting people," Yuo said. The Thai army cut the road through the 270,000-acre sanctuary in the 1980s to help ferry supplies to insurgents fighting the Cambodian government, Yuo said. There are some 3,000 wild elephants in Thailand, according to the Forestry Department.


Tennessee Mussel Protection
December 20, 2004 tennessean.com

Five species of freshwater mussels that live in Middle Tennessee rivers recently received new legal protection from the federal government. All five (Cumberland elktoe, oyster mussel, Cumberlandian combshell, purple bean and rough rabbitsfoot have been already shielded by law since 1997 as endangered species. But as a result of a legal battle between the federal government and an environmental group, the mussels' habitats — such as the Duck River in Maury County — are now protected by law and cannot be disturbed without prior impact studies and permits. The Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, a citizen-driven conservation group out of Asheville, N.C., sued the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 for not designating the mussel habitats in Tennessee and other Southeastern states as critical. "85% of impaired species are impaired because of habitat loss,'' said Tracy Davids, the group's executive director. Critical habitat designation is important because it recognizes the significance of clean rivers and streams, said Will Callaway with the Tennessee Environmental Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group.


Rhino numbers dwindle
December 21, 2004 www.abc.net.au

The world's most endangered species of rhinoceros, Indonesia's Sumatran rhinoceros, may be on the brink of extinction. Indonesia's Forestry Ministry says there may be fewer than 50 of the animals remaining in the wild. Poaching is the main threat to the rhinos. Indonesia's Forestry Ministry says the animals are slaughtered for their horns, which are sold as ingredients for Chinese medicine. Spokesman for World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Indonesian office Nasir Fouad has called on people to refrain from hunting the rare animal. "The only use for the rhinos in Sumatra is the horn, which is for the Chinese medicine," he said. "The amount of money that the poacher gets on the field is less than $1,000. "It can go up to tens of thousand of dollars if you go to the end user in the market, for the same weight of one rhino horn."


New Software Based on Bird Calls
December 21, 2004 australianit.news.com.au by Jennifer Foreshew

A piece of software that uses bird calls could save fruit growers millions of dollars annually by limiting bird damage to fruit crops. Developed at the University of South Australia, the software can detect a problematic bird species by its call and activate scaring techniques. Created by final-year engineering students Melanie Symons and Chris Clark, the system uses digital signal processing techniques on bird calls recorded with a microphone. These are then compared with call characteristics held in a computer library. "There are other hardware systems that scare birds using new techniques, but they don't detect which bird it is before they play sounds to scare it away," Ms Symons said. She said the program could also be used to log endangered birds, and by bird watchers wanting to sight particular species. "This detects what bird is there and then targets that bird by playing one of about six scaring techniques randomly, including distress calls, alarm calls, predator calls and loud noises such as music or screeching," Ms Symons said. She said the software was designed to allow users to constantly update the scaring techniques and problem birds. The product may be developed for commercial release. "At the moment, we are just using auditory scaring techniques, but it would be improved if it used visual techniques," Ms Symons said. Using auditory and visual scaring techniques together would boost the number of scaring combinations and birds would not become accustomed to them so easily. The software would have to be built into a hardware unit for it to become an affordable option for farmers, she said.


New National Academies website launched
December 21, 2004 www.scidev.net

The US National Academies' recently launched Library of International Activities is an invaluable online resource that contains:

* A broad array of our international projects by topic or by geographic region;
* Information on the National Academies' international work in science and technology capacity-building and collaboration;
* Information on free Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of National Academies publications for developing-country users;
* Information for visiting scientists on obtaining United States visas;
* A collection of publications available in other languages.

The National Academies Library of International Activities is at international.nationalacademies.org


National Zoo Director Problems
December 21, 2004 www.washingtonpost.com

The National Zoo, one of the Smithsonian Institution's most popular attractions -- and once one of the nation's premier animal parks -- is being launched into another spell of uncertainty. Despite Lucy H. Spelman's announcement 10 months ago that she would be stepping down as the zoo's director this month, the Smithsonian still has not found a replacement. Now the 114-year-old zoo will be placed under the control of the Smithsonian's undersecretary for science, David L. Evans, who expects to show up at the 163-acre park two days a week -- that is, if he can be spared from his other Smithsonian duties. That simply won't do. The National Zoo, if it is to reclaim its luster and its reputation as a world-renowned facility, requires more than part-time leadership and management. The zoo still draws more than 2 million visitors a year. But as an interim report of a year-long National Academy of Sciences study showed in February, the zoo's standards and operations in veterinary care, pest control, nutrition and record-keeping have slipped seriously in recent years. Lapses were so widespread that the well-being of the zoo's 2,600 animals was threatened, the study concluded. Dr. Spelman, caught in the middle of controversies over a spate of animal deaths and charges of park mismanagement, decided that she had become a lightning rod and a distraction and that the time had come for her to move on. She made her announcement in February, giving the Smithsonian leadership ample notice of her departure this month. But the zoo is no closer to having an experienced manager in place than it was when Dr. Spelman said she was leaving.


Killer Whale Born at Sea World, SD
December 21, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

A baby killer whale was born Tuesday at SeaWorld San Diego. Kasatka, a 28-year-old killer whale, gave birth at 9:22 a.m. in Shamu Stadium's main show pool following a little more than two hours labor. The healthy-looking calf instinctively swam to the surface to draw its first breath. It's estimated to weigh between 300 pounds and 500 pounds and measure 6 to 7 feet. The calf's sex hasn't been determined yet. And a blood sample will have to be drawn to determine the father. SeaWorld's zoologists say the mother and baby both appear healthy. The newborn calf is the fifth born at SeaWorld in San Diego and brings the park's killer whale population to eight.


90 Confiscated Parrots Returned to Mexico
December 21, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

90 exotic parrots were hatched in the Mexican tropics but wound up as contraband headed to a swap meet in Los Angeles. They never made it because their smugglers couldn't get past border inspectors. U.S. wildlife officials cared for the birds during a months-long quarantine – nursing many back to health – then loaded them in cages and drove them to the border, where Mexican wildlife officials took them back. The lilac-crowned and red-headed Amazon parrots face another quarantine in Tijuana before biologists deem them hardy enough for a four-day trip by road to southern Mexico for release in their native areas. The transfer at the Otay Mesa border crossing was the first time such numbers of exotic birds have been returned to Mexico from California in at least a dozen years, said Anne Perry, the federal prosecutor who handles such smuggling cases. Most exotic birds seized at the border are sold at auction or donated to zoos or other nonprofit institutions. The birds represent a handful of those taken from their nests or caught in traps by poachers and then smuggled into the United States, officials said. Many are sold in swap meets in Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Some of the more exotic birds sell illegally for $100 to $200 in Mexico and $400 to $500 in swap meets, officials said. A legally imported parrot that has gone through quarantine or one bred in the United States sells for as much as $800 in pet stores. The smuggled birds also may harbor diseases affecting birds and humans. Although it is illegal to own a smuggled wild bird, authorities have a difficult time proving whether a particular bird was born free or in captivity. Therefore, they focus on smugglers rather than sellers. Agricultural officials suspect smuggled birds may have been to blame for the 2002 outbreak of exotic Newcastle's disease in poultry, which forced the destruction of 3.2 million birds in California, Nevada and Arizona, about 400,000 of them in San Diego County.


SD Zoo Lions Get Snowmen
December 21, 2004 www.nbc30.com

SAN DIEGO -- Six African lions made some new friends at the San Diego Zoo this weekend. Zoo staff built three snowmen for the 1-year-old lions to enjoy. The big cats had never seen snow before, but it didn't take long for them to be "paws" on. One feline really got up close and personal with her new snowy friend -- she climbed on top of the snowman's head.


Dallas fined $10,000 for gorilla escape
Dec. 21, 2004, www.kansascity.com By Bill Miller

DALLAS - (KRT) - The city of Dallas will reluctantly pay a $10,000 fine levied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the March escape of a gorilla from the Dallas Zoo, Mayor Laura Miller said. The fine was one reviewed by the City Council during a closed session on Monday. Afterward, Miller said the city disagrees with the fine, but will pay it to avoid a protracted dispute with the USDA, which regulates the nation's zoos. In August, the USDA notified the city that it would be fined because it failed to safely confine Jabari, the 13-year-old gorilla. City attorneys in October responded that the zoo enclosure had effectively contained gorillas "for over a decade," during which time repeated USDA inspections found no safety violations. Miller said after Monday's meeting that the city's message to the USDA would be, "We did nothing wrong and you refuse to accept that, and you're threatening us that we have bigger problems ahead if we don't pay the $10,000. "So, I think we're going to pay it."


Prague Zoo’s Indonesian Jungle Opens
December 22, 2004 www.thejakartapost.com

Czech Republic's President Vaclav Klaus was at the Prague Zoo on Nov. 29 to inaugurate the Indonesian Pavilion, Indoneska Zungle or Indonesian Jungle. The zoo exhibit which includes orangutans, macaque monkeys, various species of birds and fish, and Komodo dragons, opens a new chapter between Indonesia and the Czech Republic. "This pavilion is a symbol of the cooperation between Indonesia and the Czech Republic. And the power of this symbol is the Komodo dragon. There was only one way to get this animal. It was only through the President of the Czech Republic," Fejk, who rebuilt the Prague Zoo from scratch after it was hit by the worst flooding in five hundred years in August 2002, announced the Radio Prague. More than 100 animals were killed and hundreds more were evacuated to a safer places. With 1,500 animals, marine creatures and plants, the US $7.5 million (6 million euros) Indonesian Jungle is not only the biggest pavilion, but also the main attraction at the zoo, explained Czech Ambassador to Indonesia, Jaroslav Vesely. Vesely attended the inauguration of the Indonesian Jungle along with several Czech ministers and his Indonesian counterpart. "There are about 2,500 animals belonging to over 500 species in the zoo. So more than half of the zoo's animals are at the Indonesian Pavilion."


Riverbanks Zoo Feeds Picky Eaters
December 22, 2004 www.thestate.com

SOUTH CAROLINA – Workers in the commissary at Riverbanks Zoo prepare meals for a family of 150 picky eaters every day. The four-person staff thaws, sorts and chops specific diets for every species at the zoo. In some cases, individual animals of the same species demand specialized diets. The ingredients for each diet are spelled out on recipe-like cards that must be followed precisely to the gram. Chaka the gorilla gets 370 grams of bananas on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 520 grams on Saturdays, but none on the other days. He also gets helpings of apples, carrots, celery, eggplant, grapes, green beans, oranges, sweet potatoes and romaine lettuce, depending on the day of the week. The diet is supplemented by gorilla biscuits and monkey chow. All are packaged together, alongside slightly different packages for the other two gorillas. Some diets are more simple. The koalas eat nothing but eucalyptus leaves. Of course, that creates another problem in making sure the zoo has enough of that specialized supply, available in bulk only from farms in Florida and Arizona. Dave Nellermoe, commissary supervisor has to maintain the proper inventory of frozen mice, ground horse meat and fresh fruits in several freezers, refrigerators and storage sheds. Some animals rely heavily on dry food created by national companies to provide nearly all the nutrition the creatures need. Large bins are filled with monkey chow, flamingo pellets and elephant supplement. But most diets are more complicated. Zoos nationwide share diet tips using computer software called Zootrition. But, like people, animals can be picky, making a one-size-fits-all diet useless. "A diet can look terrific on paper, but the animal doesn’t like it," said Keith Benson, the zoo’s veterinarian. "Palatability is important. If the ingredients don’t get eaten, then that’s not the right diet for that animal." That means the diet cards for each species, and sometimes for individual animals, change frequently. Members of the commissary staff have to keep up with the changes while each is preparing about 50 meals a day.


Louisville Zoo’s Volunteer Specialist Retires
December 22, 2004 www.courier-journal.com

KENTUCKY – Diane Taylor, 49, will retire next week after spending 17 of her almost 27 years at the zoo coordinating volunteers for various animal keepers, the hospital, office workers and special events. Taylor places 1,500 volunteers around the facility, and every year that number increases because Taylor always makes room for one more, said zoo spokeswoman Diana DeVaughn. "She's created a system to put the right person in the right job. She's very smart about people," which helps increase the time they stay with the zoo, DeVaughn said. Taylor was hired as a receptionist in 1978. "During that time we had manual typewriters and crank copiers," she said. Six years later she became a clerk in the payroll and accounts-payable department, and in 1988 she was selected to coordinate volunteers. John Walczak, zoo director, said volunteers donate about 65,000 hours of work a year. DeVaughn said some of Taylor's volunteers have gone on to veterinary school and others have become zoo employees. Still others have careers elsewhere but love animals and want to fulfill their desire to work with them through volunteering, she said. DeVaughn said that since Taylor took over the Louisville Zoo Youth Board in 1997, the 40-member group has raised more than $50,000 and donated half of it to exhibits, including $15,000 for the Gorilla Forest and $10,000 for the petting zoo. Taylor has been responsible for coordinating various summer camps and special events, such as the International Family Festival, Halloween trick-or-treating and a breakfast with Santa every Christmas. Taylor said the Halloween event requires more than 900 volunteers over 14 days. Taylor typically has worked with more than 200 teens, who must do well in school in order to keep volunteering. "You have to earn the fun jobs. You need an education," she said.


New Species in Indonesian Caves
December 22, 2004 www.enn.com

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A team of international scientists has found new fish and insect species, including a monster cockroach, living in caves in Indonesia's remote East Kalimantan province, the group announced Wednesday. Led by the U.S.-based organization The Nature Conservancy, the team said the area where the new species were discovered was threatened by environmental degradation, and called for the government to protect it immediately. "In just five weeks, the expedition team discovered numerous new species previously unknown to science." said Scott Stanley, the conservancy's program manager for East Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo Island. The team surveyed four cave systems in the Sangkulirang Peninsula of East Kalimantan, about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) northwest of the capital Jakarta. "This area appears to have the largest number of endemic species of any ecosystem on Borneo," he said. The group discovered at least five new insect species, including a "monster cockroach," a "micro-crab," and a giant millipede. It also discovered several fish species, two new snail species and a number of new plants, Stanley said in a statement. Scientists from five countries, including the United States and Indonesia, explored the caves from July to September this year.


Cloning Scientists
December 22, 2004 Wall Street Journal, p 1

History of cloning:

1960s Frog (Tadpoles cloned in Britain)

1996 Sheep (Dolly is first cloned mammal)

1998 Mouse (Mice cloned in Hawaii)

2000 Pig (Pigs cloned)

2003 Horse (Italian researchers make prometea)

2004 Human embryo (Korean researchers clone embryo, extract stem cells)

Dr. Gerald Schlatten, of the University of Pittsburgh’s school of medicine is leading one of several teams around the world racing to clone the first living primate. The Pittsburgh team has a $6.4 million, 5-year grant from NIH and is importing the Korean techniques, along with some of the Korean researchers. Many of the other contenders are in Asian countries where monkeys are easier to obtain, including Singapore, China and Vietnam.


Farmers win Endangered Species-Water Fight
December 22, 2004 www.enn.com

In a precedent-setting decision, the federal government agreed to pay four California water districts $16.7 million for water the government diverted a decade ago to help two rare fish. The settlement announced Tuesday could have implications across the West, where the government often clashes with property owners in attempts to save species on the brink of extinction. The case stemmed from the government's efforts to protect endangered winter-run chinook salmon and threatened delta smelt between 1992 and 1994 by withholding billions of gallons from California farmers. Court of Federal Claims Senior Judge John Wiese ruled in December 2003 that the government's halting of water constituted a "taking" or intrusion on the farmers' private property rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from taking private property without fair payment. Environmental groups feared the ruling would force the government to pay millions of dollars each time it reserves water to help threatened wildlife. Under the settlement -- between the Justice Department and several thousand farmers from five San Joaquin Valley water districts -- the water districts will get their legal costs on top of the market value of the water diverted by the government in 1992, 1993, and 1994.


Molting - Reproduction Study
December 23, 2004 www.eurekalert.org

Researchers were surprised to discover that the timing of a male songbird's reproduction cycle affects the color of his feathers and may have important implications for his success in attracting mates. When migratory songbirds raise their young extremely late in the summer, many don't have time to molt (shed their feathers and replace with new growth) before heading south, the new study shows. "This means they must molt at stopover sites on their journey to tropical winter habitats," explains Ryan Norris, who conducted the research as part of his PhD in biology at Queen's, supervised by Professors Laurene Ratcliffe (Queen's Biology) and Peter Marra (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center). "Their replacement feathers, grown en route, are less colourful than those of birds that had time to molt before migration, which may put them at a disadvantage in attracting females the following breeding season," says Dr. Norris. "Both findings – that molting in some songbirds occurs after migration has begun, and that their new feathers are duller in color – were surprising." The study will be published Dec. 24 in the journal Science.


Florida Zoo Entertainment Park Planned
December 24, 2004 southflorida.bizjournals.com By Susan Stabley

Miami-Dade County's hopes for an entertainment complex of theme parks, hotels and shops anchored to Metrozoo may soon roar to life with the expansion of an enterprise zone offering incentives to developers. With a pending designation of 75 acres next to the zoo as an enterprise zone, officials are hopeful they can lure more attractions and offset the park's losses from low attendance. County commissioners are to vote Jan. 20 on the issue. While proposals to boost the zoo's economic health have been considered since the mid-1990s, officials say the county is closer than ever to making Metrozoo the center of an amusement multiplex. "I believe it gives us an opportunity to have our own Universal Studios," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss. "The whole idea was to create a niche for South Dade after the [Homestead Air Force] base was blown away. The county's current concepts include adding two hotels, an expanded railroad museum and three theme parks, plus a "Main Street" with shops and restaurants, said Kevin Asher, a planner with the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation department. Miami-Dade would offer concession leases to developers, similar to the kinds used with stadium owners. "The zoo would be like the anchor store in a mall," Metrozoo spokesman Ron Magill said. "There is no place south of Disney with that kind of entertainment center."


AI for Rare Johannesburg Cranes
December 24, 2004 www.iol.co.za

Johannesburg Zoo plans to artificially inseminate a pair of female birds to help boost dwindling numbers of the endangered wattled crane species. Staff at the zoo assumed Cherry and Amazona were lovers when they arrived earlier this year and exhibited typical mating rituals - including dancing, serenading one another with song and tossing sticks into the air. Tests showed the pair were both females, but due to a shortage of male wattled cranes and the species' faithfulness to one partner, the zoo decided to artificially inseminate the birds so they could reproduce. "They are very, very endangered in South Africa so we have to try to optimise the breeding potential," said Mike Hamon, bird curator at the zoo. "This pair formed a strong bond, and when we realised they were both ladies it seemed artificial insemination was the best option." Hamon said artificially inseminating the birds was a tricky business and that experts from the United States would come and help.


Lampreys Won’t be Listed
December 24, 2004 www.oregonnews.com

OREGON – Local efforts to help protect four species of lamprey reached a roadblock Wednesday when a federal agency announced that not enough information has been presented to warrant the eel-like fish’s listing under the Endangered Species Act. Local groups Umpqua Watersheds, Steamboaters and Umpqua Valley Audubon Society are among 12 organizations in Oregon, Washington and California that filed a lawsuit in April against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for listing endangered species. They argued the agency failed to take steps to protect four species of lampreys, one of which is found in the North Umpqua River. The groups will review the agency’s findings to determine whether to resubmit a new petition or challenge the findings in court.


Scovill Zoo Bird Killers Charged
December 25, 2004 news.mywebpal.com

ILLINOIS – The Decatur Park District announced last week the arrests of three Decatur men in conjunction with the Oct. 31 killing of three birds at Scovill Zoo. Park rangers arrested Sean Michael Riley, 26; Lloyd Pringle, 19; and Brandon Gossard, 19, all of Decatur. "We are pleased to close one chapter of the tragic events at Scovill Zoo," said Chris Riley, president of Decatur Park Board of Commissioners. "We look forward to working with the state’s attorney’s office in the next chapter to bring this tragedy to a successful conclusion." Rangers arrested Riley and Pringle on charges of criminal damage to government supported property and animal torture. Riley also faces charges of unlawful contribution to the delinquency of a minor and obstructing justice. Rangers arrested Gossard on charges of obstructing justice, Riley and Pringle are both being held on $50,000 bond. Gossard is being held on a $15,000 bond. The men are charged in relation to the murder of two Chilean flamingoes and a pelican at the zoo. The pelican, Quincy, is a protected species under federal law. Rangers also arrested a 15 year old Decatur man in November for the crimes. "We would like to thank the community for their continuing support of Scovill Zoo," said Chris Riley. "From children emptying their piggy banks to businesses and individuals to schools in Decatur, Tower Hill, Meridian, and Maroa-Forsyth, the community has truly banded together."


Captive Reproduction at Seneca Park Zoo
December 25, 2004 www.democratandchronicle.com

Sasha and Kira, two Amur tigers had their first encounter in broad daylight last Saturday, right in front of five Seneca Park Zoo workers. Some held tranquilizer guns at the ready in case things got ugly. Everyone issued a "big sigh of relief when they immediately started breeding. And every five minutes afterward," said Dr. Jeff Wyatt, zoo veterinarian and director of conservation programs. The outcome won't be confirmed until late January, when Kira either goes into heat again or doesn't, but she may be the next in a series of expectant mothers at the Seneca Park Zoo. If she's already pregnant, the tiger could give birth in March, causing a boom of another kind: attendance. "Two or three little bundles of tiger fur will just be a tremendous attraction," said Larry Sorel, zoo director. His staff is getting to know a lot about birthing babies lately, as they participate in a worldwide conservation effort to replenish zoo stock. Some captive-born animals are released to the wild, but Sorel said that Seneca Park babies have all remained here or gone to other zoos.


3 Nebraska Zoo Directors Resign
December 25, 2004 www.aberdeennews.com

Three members of Zoo Nebraska's board have resigned, citing disputes about the direction of a zoo that has received donations from retired talk show host Johnny Carson. Zoo director Dale Bakken said he would not comment on the situation. Zoo Nebraska opened 17 years ago as a primate research facility. Carson, the former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," grew up 40 miles to the southeast in Norfolk. Fourteen years ago, he donated $55,000 for the Carson Center for Chimps. The concrete structure houses the zoo's chimpanzees. And in the last few years, Carson donated another $20,000 to the zoo.  Despite Carson's targeted donations, the small zoo struggles on a shoestring budget. In October, Bakken said the end of a reciprocal membership agreement between Zoo Nebraska and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo imperiled the future of the northeast Nebraska zoo.


Farrier for the Wild Animal Park
December 25, 2004 www.nctimes.com

Dave Heiar, 38, has spent almost half his life under the feet of horses as a certified journeyman farrier ---- an equine podiatrist. But a few times each month he breaks from shaping domesticated horses' hooves to care for the plethora of aching feet at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Among his clients are some not-so-domesticated zebras, giraffes, okapi, Somali wild asses, and the occasional rhino. "I probably take it for granted because I've gone out there so many times," says Heiar of his 17-year stint at the park. "Every once in a while I'll think, 'Wow, this is so cool. I get to have rhinos and giraffes right by me.' I'm really lucky."Having apprenticed under the park's previous farrier, Heiar eventually inherited the contract. Andy Blue, animal care manager for the park's mammal department, explains that Heiar's work is valued in both expertise and efficiency. "Our vets could do this but farriers are specialists ---- it's what they do," Blue said. "It works out better this way."


Jacksonville’s animal training for soldiers
December 27, 2004 www.sun-sentinel.com

Four soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division are part of the Army's medical program that focuses on preventive medicine and actions. Along with their animal-control duties, the job involves keeping work and living areas hygienic when they are deployed in Iraq next year. The four went to the Jacksonville zoo recently for hands-on animal control training. Spc. Lind Ballmer of Baton Rouge, La. and his colleagues got a crash course on snake wrangling from Greg Lepera, the zoo's curator of herpetology. Lepera said he tried to condense "90 days of training into three days." The soldiers began with nonvenomous snakes, then worked with poisonous ones. Jason Knotts held two metal sticks that looked like golf-club shafts with large hooks on the end, trying to entice a red rat snake onto the hooks. He stroked the tail of the snake with one hook, so that the head of the snake would curl on the second hook. The snake wasn't cooperating. Knotts finally coaxed the serpent onto the hook and put it in a plastic garbage can.


Fayette County zoo relocates
December 27, 2004 www.pittsburghlive.com

Ten months after a fire closed his Fayette County zoo, Sonny Herring is thankful for everyone who helped his family-run business recover and grow. He remembers how people from miles away sent money and supplies as he and his family rebuilt the Woodland Zoo at a new location. He remembers the help he received from a West Virginia steel fabricator in building the animal exhibits. He remembers how that same man helped a group of high school kids set up the holiday light display he's been wanting for years. Before the Feb. 1 fire that destroyed a gift shop, machinery and a storage barn where the animals' feed was kept, the Herrings were looking to move from their eight-acre site on Gibbon Glade Road in Wharton Township. They had been eyeing more than 120 acres off Route 40, a plot of land that is home to the Great Meadows Amphitheatre. Although the property sat dormant for years, it took an act of state legislation to get it into the Herrings' hands. The state conveyed the amphitheater property to the county in 2000. Last year, the county and the Herrings worked out a lease, but transferring the deed was not allowed because the land had been developed with state funds. Legislation signed into law earlier this year lifted the deed restriction. The Herrings took out a mortgage, owing the county $190,500. Under the law, the county is required to use that money for the acquisition and development of parkland. Now the Herrings have 35 acres of animal exhibits, allowing them to make each one from their old property about five times larger, Herring said. This is the first year for what the Herrings want to be an annual light display. It's also the first year the zoo will remain open through the winter. The lights will shine nightly at the zoo through Jan. 2. There is no admission fee, but donations will be accepted.


Monkey Escapes from SD Zoo
December 27, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

An endangered monkey that got out of its San Diego Zoo cage Saturday afternoon. Zoo officials said the Francois' langur named Chieh was found in a eucalyptus tree at nearby Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School on Park Boulevard. Chieh stayed high in the tree for a while but eventually descended to lower branches. Veterinarians quickly anesthetized and captured him. Because eucalyptus leaves could be poisonous to the species, the decision was made to tranquilize the monkey, zoo spokeswoman Yadira Galindo said. Just how it got loose is being investigated. Galindo said it was seen on the school property about 3 p.m. and was back in keepers' hands by 4 p.m. A Francois' langur is a curious, easy-going monkey with longish black hair and long white sideburns. Adults are about 22 inches long and weigh between 15 to 20 pounds. They come from northern Vietnam and southern China and have been listed as endangered since the 1970s.


Mysore Zoo Polygraph Reports
December 27, 2004 www.starofmysore.com

Police Commissioner Praveen Sood has disclosed that the polygraph test report on 13 persons related to the mysterious death of elephants and macaque recently in Mysore zoo in September has reached him. He told Star of Mysore over telephone, that 15 employees had been subjected to the test relating to the serial deaths in the Zoo and report on 13 of them had reached him. Radhakrishna and Nagaraju had been scanned by the test on Dec. 18. The reports of the test conducted on these two would be delayed, he said adding that he found differences between the statements given by the accused before the police and the polygraph tests. He suspected that the accused might be hiding the truth. "I will study the reports of the polygraph tests and then give my opinion," Sood explained. In view of the Government's order to hand over the probe to the Corps of Detective (CoD), it was inevitable that the order be followed without any other option, he said. All the data and information obtained so far would also be handed over to CoD.


Revamp for old Dudley Zoo ballroom
Dec 27, 2004, www.expressandstar.com

A historic ballroom at Dudley Zoo is due to be transformed next year in the second phase of a £70,000 refurbishment. Part of the Queen Mary Restaurant and Ballroom has already been revamped and has had the thumbs-up from zoo visitors. Work was carried out over the summer to convert the bar into a modern dining area, serving light meals, and the outside of the listed building has been spruced up. Further extensive refurbishment is planned for the magnificent old ballroom, previously the main restaurant. The room will be reserved for peak season and busy weekends, serving full traditional meals. A large balcony area at the back of the building, overlooking the gardens and animals, will become an outdoor dining area available for special events and functions. Work is being masterminded by catering company Eurest which has recently taken on the restaurant service from Dudley Council. The new seven-year contract, worth a total turnover of almost £2 million, will involve serving some 250,000 visitors at the popular Black Country attraction every year. Zoo chief executive Peter Suddock said sales at the Queen Mary were up and visitors had been complimentary about the newly improved dining facilities.


Feeding Animals at The Living Desert
December 27, 2004 www.thedesertsun.com

PALM DESERT – As commissary supervisor at The Living Desert for the past seven years, Kara Akers said she also doesn’t consider anything she serves the zoo’s residents as particularly odd. On a recent weekday morning, she prepared small pans of food for the various birds, both herbivore and carnivore. Some pans contained chopped vegetables and fruits (with a few frozen crickets) or soaked kibble and pieces of boiled eggs with the shells. In other containers, Akers had placed frozen rodents, which were lightly dusted with vitamin powder. Dozens of meal worms wiggled in a nearby pan. "The mice and rats are for a lot of the raptors," she said. "We have little cheat sheets that have all the diets on them. They’re separated into all the different areas." The afternoon meals are made in the morning, Akers said. "We always make the following morning’s ahead." The zoo had a nutritional company analyze its diets, and it made some modifications, she said. Everything’s weighed out," she said. "That’s why we ask the public not to feed the animals because they’re on a strict diet." Three employees work in the commissary department, which also has three volunteers. It typically takes between six and eight hours to feed the entire collection of animals. The commissary department also feeds the quarantined animals, but they don’t prepare food for the hoof stock. She works with the zoo’s veterinarian when any of the animals require changes in their diets or medicine. "I have had all on-the-job training," said Akers, who previously volunteered at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and at The Living Desert. She has a background in administration, too, which is helpful with ordering food and dealing with vendors. Every year, Akers typically spends most of her $100,000 budget on the following menu items: 18,000 pounds of raw meat; 65,000 pounds of hay; 15,000 pounds of vegetables; 800,000 meal worms; 3,500 rats; 22,000 mice; 3,000 quail; and 11,000 eggs.


Death of ape at Great Ape Trust
December 27, 2004 www.wcfcourier.com

DES MOINES (AP) – Medical tests have determined that Indah, an orangutan that had been housed at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, died of a perforated bladder. The 24-year-old orangutan was euthanized Nov. 11 after becoming ill. Indah was one of two apes that came to Iowa as part of a primate research program at the newly formed Great Ape Trust.Veterinarians at the Great Ape Trust and Iowa State University concluded after receiving the results of final medical tests that Indah had suffered damage to the bladder several months before being transferred to Des Moines. She arrived here with great fanfare on Sept. 28 from the National Zoo in Washington, with her 26-year-old brother Azy. She was born at the zoo in 1980 and began participating in the Orangutan Language Program with Dr. Rob Shumaker in 1995. It's estimated at least 200,000 people viewed Indah's language research sessions at the zoo. Infection from the bladder perforation and intestinal damage were discovered exploratory during surgery in November. Indah's brother, Azy, now is the sole occupant of the Des Moines facility, which is searching for more orangutans and plans to add bonobos in the spring. Eventually, it will also have gorillas and chimpanzees. The Great Ape Trust of Iowa, located in southeast Des Moines, is conducting language and cognitive research on great apes.


USDA Tries to halt Sudden Oak Death
December 27, 2004 www.aphis.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it is regulating the interstate movement of plants from commercial nurseries in California, Oregon and Washington to prevent the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, or sudden oak death, to noninfested areas of the United States. Under the new federal order, California, Oregon and Washington nursery owners who ship P. ramorum host and associated host plants interstate must have their nursery stock inspected, sampled and tested by state officials before those plants can be transported across state lines. Among the plants susceptible to this pathogen are rhododendron, camellias and 66 other plant species. In addition, nurseries that ship nonhost plants interstate must undergo a visual inspection to ensure those plants are not exhibiting P. ramorum symptoms before interstate shipment. The order will go into effect on Jan. 10, 2005. The new measures address the discovery of the P. ramorum pathogen in commercial nurseries in Washington, and in nurseries outside of the already established quarantined areas in California and Oregon. This action also puts new restrictions on nurseries in the quarantined areas that ship nonhost nursery stock interstate.


Tsunamis: Facts About Killer Waves
December 27, 2004 news.nationalgeographic.com

The Christmas weekend tsunami that was generated by the most powerful earthquake in decades is believed to have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced a million more. The epicenter of Sunday's magnitude-9 quake was under the Indian Ocean near the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Within hours killer waves slammed into the shores of Indian Ocean countries, snatching lives and demolishing property from Africa to Thailand. While relatively rare in recent centuries in the Indian Ocean, tsunamis have been generated in every ocean of the world, but none more so than the Pacific Ocean. Sooner or later every shoreline is struck by a tsunami. Once near the shore, a tsunami wave gains height of as much as 100 feet (30 meters) and its enormous energy sweeps up all in its path.

A tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves, also known as a wave train. The first wave in a tsunami is not necessarily the most damaging. Tsunamis are not tidal waves. Tsunamis can be very long (as much as 60 miles, or 100 kilometers) and be as far as one hour apart. They are able to cross entire oceans without great loss of energy. Geological features such as reefs, bays, river entrances, and undersea formations may dissipate the energy of a tsunami. In some places a tsunami may cause the sea to rise vertically only a few inches or feet. In other places tsunamis have been known to surge vertically as high as 100 feet (30 meters). Most tsunamis cause the sea to rise no more than 10 feet (3 meters).

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami could rank as one of the most devastating on record. The most damaging tsunami in history was the one that killed an estimated 40,000 people in 1782 following an earthquake in the South China Sea. In 1883 some 36,500 people were killed by tsunamis in the South Java Sea, following the eruption of Indonesia's Krakatoa volcano. In northern Chile more than 25,000 people were killed by a tsunami in 1868. The Pacific is by far the most active tsunami zone, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But tsunamis have been generated in other bodies of water, including the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. North Atlantic tsunamis included the tsunami associated with the 1775 Lisbon earthquake that killed as many as 60,000 people in Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. This quake caused a tsunami as high as 23 feet (7 meters) in the Caribbean. The Tsunami Warning System (TWS) in the Pacific, comprised of 26 member countries, monitors seismological and tidal stations throughout the Pacific region. The system evaluates potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes and issues tsunami warnings. There is no international warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.


Boaters Warned about Manatee Migration
December 27, 2004 www.sun-sentinel.com

State wildlife officials are alerting boaters to be wary of slow-moving manatees as their yearly winter migration to find warmer waters begins. An endangered species, manatees spend summer months mostly alone, though they do congregate during breeding season. The cooler winter months, however, send the aquatic mammals scrambling for warmer waters. With more boaters on the water during the tourist season and more manatees in rivers and creeks, the chance of a boat-related accidents increases, officials said. ``As temperatures drop, they're moving from cold water to warmer water,'' said Tom Pitchford, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. ``And they're pretty good at that. We're asking boaters to look out for traveling manatees, especially at the warm-water sites.'' Manatees are a tropical mammal that can die during cold weather. Pitchford said manatees tend to stay in smaller creeks and rivers, or move to warmer waters near power plants, until water temperatures rise again in the spring.


Dudley Zoo’s Humboldt Penguins
December 27, 2004 www.expressandstar.com

Black Country -- Dudley Zoo's world class breeding record with Humboldts penguins, one of the earth's rarest species of bird, has prompted a request from the Beijing Zoo. China hopes to establish a colony of these birds and begin an international conservation program. Dudley's collection was started with just three hand-reared penguins 16 years ago and has now swelled to more than 70 parent-reared birds, making it one of the most successful conservation programs in the world. The transfer of a group of about 12 penguins, due to take place in February, will be the first time the zoo has supplied Humboldts to Asia. In the past two years more than 20 Humboldts penguins have left the Black Country for other British projects.


Lead poisoning risk for condors
December 27, 2004 www.santacruzsentinel.com  By ELISE KLEEMAN

In late October, deep in the back country of Ventura County, a 6-month-old condor chick made history. Spreading its wings, it soared 150 feet from the safety of its cliff-side nest, marking its passage from fuzzy babyhood to gangly adolescence and became the first wild-condor chick in the state in 22 years to survive past infancy.The California Condor Recovery Program has fostered an impressive comeback for these endangered birds, increasing the wild condor population from zero to 111 in just 13 years. But the program still faces many challenges. Last year alone, 11 of the condors living in the wild were killed, and many others had to be taken into captivity for treatment. Natural causes played a role, but lead poisoning has become one of the biggest, and most contentious, problems. Condors, scavenging birds, are drawn to the carcasses of animals shot and not recovered, or to the piles of organs left by hunters cleaning their catch in the field. But what the birds might think of as healthy meal could be peppered with lead bullet fragments, poisoning them. All it takes is a tiny amount — a piece of lead the size of a pea is enough to kill a condor. Any lead swallowed by a condor is quickly absorbed into the bird’s bloodstream. It replaces calcium, damaging the insulation around nerves and impairing their ability to function. If the nerves of the digestive tract are deactivated, muscles no longer push food though the bird’s stomach and intestines and they starve, said Mike Wallace of the San Diego Zoo. Other muscles also can be affected, causing the bird to lose balance and coordination and be unable to walk or fly.


Nat’l Zoo Komodo Dragon Dies
Dec. 27, 2004 www.wtopnews.com

WASHINGTON -- One of the Zoo's Komodo dragons died in its exhibit at the Reptile Discovery Center. The rare female lizard died Christmas day after a blood vessel ruptured in its abdomen. A growth in an ovary apparently caused a blood vessel to rupture. The official cause of death won't be known for several weeks when all tests have been completed. The 12-year-old lizard was one of a dozen born at the Zoo in 1992, the first litter ever born outside their native Indonesia. The Komodo dragon is the world's largest lizard. The species is not endangered, but it is listed as 'vulnerable' by the World Conservation Union. The Zoo will likely try to acquire another female Komodo dragon for the reptile collection.


Correction to Dec 19 NYTimes Po’ouli Article
Dec. 27, 2004, www.nytimes.com

An Editorial Observer column on Dec. 19 about the apparent extinction of a bird in Hawaii referred imprecisely to the federal government's financing of two programs to protect endangered species there. Although the government has cut positions from a program to halt the spread of the brown tree snake, citing rising costs, the Fish and Wildlife Service has not reduced its contribution to the program. And while the director of a bird captive-breeding program says he was told that its federal funding would be eliminated in 2006, Fish and Wildlife officials say no such decision has been made yet.


Combining GPS & Digital Photography
December 27, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com

Most digital cameras cannot be connected to a GPS receiver, so they cannot automatically tag images with coordinates. But interest in the combination is growing. Relating pictures to precise locations has obvious applications. Researchers can measure population distributions of plant species with highly accurate photojournals, or document the changing landscape of the California coastline, as Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman have done with a helicopter, a digital camera, a GPS receiver and a laptop computer. As part of an effort called the California Coastal Records Project (www.californiacoastline.org), Adelman has taken more than 20,000 aerial photographs of the coast (except for a restricted area around Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara) from a helicopter. "Photographing particular parts of the coast for the Sierra Club led to the idea," he said. "It was the digital photography and the GPS interface that made it practical."


Otay Tarplant Recovery Plan
December 28, 2004 news.fws.gov/NewsReleases

A final recovery plan for Otay tarplant (Deinandra conjugens), was released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The plan outlines actions needed to recover Otay tarplant, a threatened species that is only found in portions of San Diego County, California and Baja California, Mexico. Specific actions that should be taken to help recover Otay tarplant include collecting seeds from wild plants that can be used to develop and implement a successful propagation program; permanently managing populations of Otay tarplant in areas targeted for conservation through the San Diego County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) and other habitat conservation planning efforts; and monitoring reserve areas to ensure adequate populations of Otay tarplant pollinators are sustained. For more information about Otay tarplant, including a photo of the plant, visit the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office's website at carlsbad.fws.gov. A copy of the Recovery Plan is available on the Internet at endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans.


'Bigger Is Better' View of Evolution
December 28, 2004 www.nytimes.com By Carl Zimmer

The notion that natural selection can create long-term trends toward large size first emerged about a century ago, but it fell out of favor in recent decades. Now researchers have taken a fresh look at the question with new methods, and some argue that these trends are real. Biologists have recently found that in a vast majority of animals and plants, bigger individuals are more successful at reproducing than smaller ones, whether they are finches, damselflies or jimsonweed. Natural selection can steadily drive lineages to bigger sizes for vast stretches of time. The giant dinosaurs that made the earth tremble, for example, were the product of the long-running advantage of being big over tens of millions of years.  "I think it holds up very well, and a lot better than a lot of people have said over the years," said David Hone, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol. Mr. Hone and others argue the push toward bigger size is so strong and persistent that there must be significant forces pushing the other way. Otherwise, we would be living on a planet of giants. Evolutionary biologists generally refer to this trend toward bigger sizes as Cope's rule. Edward Drinker Cope, a 19th-century American paleontologist, claimed the fossil record showed that lineages of species got larger over time. Later scientists offered further support for Cope's rule, from mammals to corals.


Do Elephants Jump?
December 28, 2004 www.cbsnews.com

David Feldman answers the question in his latest "Imponderables" book. "We talked to a bunch of elephant experts and none of them has ever seen an elephant jump. Most think it is physiologically impossible for a mature elephant to jump, although baby elephants have been known to do so, if provoked. Not only do mature elephants weigh too much to support landing on all fours, but their legs are designed for strength rather than leaping ability. Mark Grunwald, who has worked with elephants for more than a decade at the Philadelphia Zoo, notes that elephant’s bone structure makes it difficult for them to bend their legs sufficiently to derive enough force to propel the big lugs up. Yet there are a few sightings of elephants jumping in the wild. Veterinarian Judy Provo found two books in her college library that illustrate the discrepancy. S. K. Ettingham’s Elephant lays out the conventional thinking: "… because of its great weight, an elephant cannot jump or even run in the accepted sense since it must keep one foot on the ground at all times." But an account in J. J. William’s Elephant Bill describes a cow elephant jumping a deep ravine "like a chaser over a brook."


Venezuela’s Controlled Macaw Trade
December 28, 2004 www.nytimes.com By Brian Ellsworth

LOS REMOLINOS, Venezuela - The delta of the Orinoco River, 11,000 square miles, is a maze of winding channels separated by marshy mangrove forests. It is home to the jaguar and the Orinoco crocodile and the macaw, one of the parrots most prized by pet smugglers. Some 20,000 indigenous people, the Warao, inhabit isolated villages along the shoreline. For years they have subsisted almost entirely on fish caught out of small wooden canoes. But overfishing and environmental degradation have made survival a struggle, pushing many Warao to migrate closer to cities or to join the enterprising poachers who arrive from neighboring Guyana or the island of Trinidad to hunt macaws. Rather than enforcing a strict ban on the sale of macaws, Venezuela's environmental authorities have instead opted to allow some 30 Warao delta residents to capture and sell a controlled number of these birds. The idea is to provide income to the Warao, and an economic incentive to maintain the macaws. The program is part of an increasingly popular but controversial conservation movement known as sustainable use. The philosophy is that saving a species may require commercially exploiting it.


41-year-old Siamang Gives Birth
December 28, 3004 www.nwemail.co.uk

An elderly ape surprised staff at Dalton’s South Lakes Wild Animal Park, by giving birth to a bouncing baby. Nancy, a 41-year-old Siamang — who would be more than 80 years old in human years — gave birth to a healthy baby despite being one of the park’s pensioners. Her last baby was born 14 years ago, while she was at Barcelona Zoo. Park owner David Gill is delighted. He said: "The baby came completely out of the blue. They are both doing well. It is a nice healthy baby. It is an exciting time for us as we are part of an international breeding program."


Cameroon & Congo Parrot Exportation
December 28, 2004 www.angolapress-angop.ao

Cameroon exported 12,000 grey parrots between 2003 and 2004, the largest quantity from Africa, and 2,000 more than the Democratic Republic of the Congo sold during the same period, according to latest report by the Convention on the International Trade of endangered fauna and flora wild species (CITES). Gabon, which is said to host Africa`s biggest parrot, the "Psittacus erithacus," exported 250 of the birds between 2003 and 2004, the report said. It revealed that some 360,000 grey parrots were sold across the world between 1993 and 2002. The Netherlands, Belgium and South Africa are the major grey parrots importers, with Europe attracting some 79 percent of the exotic birds, the report added.


3 Whooping Cranes Seen in Alabama
December 28, 2004 www.tuscaloosanews.com

Three whooping cranes have been spotted in Alabama this month, the first time in 108 years the endangered species has made an appearance in the state, according to Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. The white birds that feature black legs and faces were spotted in mid-December during the annual Christmas Bird Count. They arrived shortly before the cold front that pushed about 12,000 ducks farther south to the refuge sanctuary. The appearance of the whooping cranes that traditionally migrate from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast did not surprise Wheeler biologist Bill Gates who was informed last year to watch for them. Gates said last year marked the first effort to establish a new migratory flock to Florida. The basic flight path starts in Wisconsin then crosses Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia before ending in Citrus County, Fla. An airplane, resembling a hang glider with a propeller, leads the birds south. The effort involves multiple planes that take different routes.


N.M. Checkerspot Won’t be Listed
December 28, 2004 www.krqe.com

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list the checkerspot butterfly as an endangered species. The agency says threats against the butterfly's habitat are diminishing. The service had proposed listing the butterfly as endangered in 2001 because of habitat destruction. But information collected in recent years led the agency to reverse its position last week. Environmentalists believe the butterfly should be listed as endangered because it lives in a small area and is so rare. In 2001, half of the butterfly's habitat was thought to be on private land and possibly threatened by development. But new data found that the Lincoln National Forest manages all but 777 acres of the butterfly's two-thousand-709 acres of habitat.


Ferrets Make Comeback in Arizona
December 28, 2004 news.yahoo.com

PHOENIX - Endangered black-footed ferrets are reproducing more and surviving longer in the wild in Arizona than they have since recovery efforts began nearly a decade ago, according to wildlife biologists. Biologists found 28 ferrets in the last two years in Arizona that were born in the wild — more than double the number found during any two-year period since a reintroduction program began in 1996. Mike Lockhart, a ferret recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, "If it continues along the same path, it could quickly become a self-sustaining population." While the yellowish-brown, wiry animals appear to be doing well in Arizona, drought and the plague have devastated populations elsewhere across the West. Biologists thought the black-footed ferret was extinct in the late 1970s, but about 120 of the nocturnal prowlers were found in the mid-1980s in Wyoming. One reason for the low numbers is that the government killed thousands of prairie dogs — the ferrets' main food source — during the last century because they were considered pests. "It came very, very close to extinction," Lockhart said. "It was at one time the most endangered mammal in North America, and it was undoubtedly one of the most endangered in the world."


Bronx Zoo Closes Island Preserve
December 29, 2004 www.nytimes.com  By ALAN FEUER

The Bronx Zoo is closing its Wildlife Survival Center on St. Catherines Islanda. The animal preserve is on a 14,000-acre undeveloped island off the coast of Georgia. For 30 years zoologists have used studied - among other things - the mating habits of wildlife, including lemurs, hartebeests, zebras, tortoises, gazelles and several species of exotic birds. 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, the island's vast spaces, its large enclosures and its private grounds, to which no visitors are allowed, permitted zoologists to study how animals would act in "herd situations" or determine what would happen if captive beasts were reintroduced to the wilderness. The Wildlife Conservation Society has run the preserve since 1974 but has decided to close it because many of its original objectives have been met. There will be no loss of jobs. The zoo will spend as much as a year relocating the 435 animals of 46 species from the island preserve to other zoos and wildlife parks around the country. Some of the animals will come to the Bronx, she said, particularly a group of lemurs, which will be moved into a special exhibit on the wildlife of Madagascar that is scheduled to open in the Bronx in 2006.


Hundreds stranded on monorail for hours
December 29, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com  By Craig Gustafson

SAN PASQUAL VALLEY – A series of mechanical failures trapped more than 400 people on the San Diego Wild Animal Park's monorail for several hours last week. With nighttime temperatures in the 40s and stiff winds blowing, it was what Kristina Dei described as an "ugly situation" for those involved. Dei, who lives in Scripps Ranch, said she doesn't plan to go back to the park despite receiving a year's membership from someone as a gift. "I got hypothermia and my kids have bronchitis," she said. Park officials called it a "perfect storm" of breakdowns that caused one of the monorail's worst failures in years. The monorail, an iconic symbol of the park since it opened in 1972, is scheduled to be dismantled in a few months. Eventually, it will be replaced by a $30 million system of wheeled vehicles that will result in shorter tours, fewer delays, and a new experience for guests. Dei, who was with her two children on the first train, said passengers were stranded for closer to four hours. She criticized the park's response to the situation. "They did not make any attempt to supply us with anything," she said. "They had no emergency response set in place at all." Park officials said they couldn't have foreseen three breakdowns in rapid succession, or they would have considered their emergency plan, which calls for unloading passengers into flatbed trucks used for park safaris. That scenario, however, wasn't considered ideal because it was after dark, and insufficient lighting could have made exiting the trains difficult, officials said.


New USDA BSE Rule

Dec. 29, 2004 www.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that after conducting an extensive risk review it is establishing conditions under which it will allow imports of live cattle under 30 months of age and certain other commodities from regions with effective bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prevention and detection measures. This final rule ensures the continued protection of public and animal health from BSE, while removing prohibitions on the importation of certain animals and commodities from minimal-risk regions. Prior to being able to import to the United States, each country must undergo a thorough risk assessment. The rule also outlines conditions under which sheep, goats, cervids and camelids can be imported, as well as meat and certain other products and byproducts from these animals.


Using Math to Save Britain’s Red Squirrels
December 29, 2004 edinburghnews.scotsman.com

But now mathematicians at Heriot-Watt University may hold the key to the plight of the red squirrel, and if successful their work could be used in conservation efforts around the world. The endangered red squirrel has seen its habitat steadily shrink as the more aggressive grey, originally imported from America in the 1930s, takes over. When the native red population went into decline it was initially thought that the greys were simply more successful at survival. It was later discovered that they carry a disease, harmless to them but fatal to the red squirrel. Grey squirrels also eat the same food as red squirrels, but can eat it at a more ripe stage, when it is unsuitable for reds. All of this has led to a rapid decline of the red squirrel population, and most of the remaining animals, around 160,000, are holed up largely in coniferous areas of Scotland including parts of the Highlands and Borders as environmentalists work on a way to help the species survive. Dr Andrew White, lecturer in mathematics, has been studying the plight of the rare animals and how to halt the steady encroachment of the invading imported greys. With so few of the animals left, he knows environmentalists can’t afford to make any mistakes when implementing strategy in the wild. And he believes that mathematical models created at the university could be used to help find the best way to save the squirrels. "The environment is delicate and where animals are under threat, going out and trying out conservation strategies in the field could end up doing more harm than good," he said."There are too few red squirrels left in the wild to just try out a strategy and hope for the best, but a computerized mathematical model lets you experiment to establish what works best and what could actually be counter productive." These mathematical models of conservation are already being put to use, with Professor Jonathan Sherratt trying to work out a model for why animal populations can expand and contract rapidly and seemingly without explanation. He has been working with data gathered on the field vole population of the Kielder Forest in the Scottish Borders over the last twenty years. Their population undergoes regular cyclical fluctuations, rising by up to a hundred-fold and then declining again over periods of about four years, yet nobody has been able to work out why.


Inuits & Biologists Save Caribou
December 29, 2004 north.cbc.ca

IQALUIT - Hunters and biologists are bringing together Inuit traditional knowledge and western science to determine the prospects for a rare species of caribou. Peary caribou live on Nunavut's High Arctic islands. The small animals are considered endangered by a national group that rates species at risk in Canada. Biologists with the Nunavut government and hunters are tracking the caribou on the ground and from the air to find out just how many there are. They've also put satellite collars on some of the animals to follow their movements. Mike Ferguson, a wildlife biologist for Nunavut's environment department in Pond Inlet, says climate changes could lead to extreme winter conditions, restricting Peary caribous' access to food. Ferguson says radar data is now being used to detect variations in snow. "What these special satellites do is they send a radar beam down at the Earth. This is used by various agencies to look at ice cover on oceans. We’re looking across the landscape, to detect changes in snow cover." Inuit hunters are working with the technology and are bringing their traditional knowledge of migration patterns, feeding habits and the land into the mix. Isaac Kudluk, the chair of the Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers' Organization, says the collaboration is creating a wealth of information. "We got a lot closer. We started working together and everything seems to be working better like that." The group says Peary caribou on Bathurst and surrounding islands have started to recover since a big decline in the 1990s. However, on Prince of Wales and Somerset islands the population may be lower now than a decade ago. The team will complete their results in the new year.


Grizzly-Bear Deaths Worry Environmentalists
December 30, 2004 www.nytimes.com

BILLINGS, Mont., Dec. 29 (AP) - Thirty-one grizzly bears in and around Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana have died this year as a result of human actions, the largest total in any year since grizzlies were listed as a threatened species three decades ago and about double the number killed in 2003. Seven were hit by trains or cars. Ten were killed illegally, often shot and left to die. Thirteen were killed by wildlife officials because they had menaced humans or otherwise become a nuisance. One was killed in self-defense. State and federal wildlife officials attribute the rise in part to the movement of more people into bear territory and a poor berry crop that pushed more grizzlies out of the woods in search of food. Those officials say the number is not yet cause for alarm. But some environmentalists are concerned, not only about the grizzlies around Glacier but also about those around Yellowstone National Park, where run-ins with hunters have accounted for nearly half the 19 grizzly bear deaths in 2004 and where a government proposal to drop federal protection for grizzlies could come as early as next year.


Alaska Oil Spill Takes Toll
December 30, 2004 www.nytimes.com By Eli Sanders

A local crab-fishing season has been canceled and the estimated number of animals killed or injured by oil has sharply increased as a rare break in rough Bering Sea weather allows officials to gain a better sense of the damage from a large spill in the Aleutian Islands. More than 355,000 gallons of fuel oil are now thought to have spilled from the freighter Selendang Ayu, which ran aground and split in two just off Unalaska Island on Dec. 8. The island is home to the nation's largest commercial fishing port by volume, and the second-largest by value of annual catch, said Frank Kelty, resource analyst and former mayor of the city of Unalaska, which sits along the port, Dutch Harbor. Unalaska's big commercial operations, which fish at some distance from the port, should be relatively unaffected by the cancellation of the local tanner crab season, which was to have begun on Jan. 15. But small-boat fishermen will be badly hurt, Mr. Kelty said, losing nearly $500,000 in revenue to the oil contamination that has deprived them of the area's biggest catch at this time of year.


Vermont’s Wildlife Inventory
December 30, 2004 www.timesargus.com By Sky Barsch Times Argus Staff

WATERBURY – In an effort to avoid emergency recovery programs, Vermont wildlife specialists are using federal funds to survey and plan for the protection of creatures that might otherwise be headed for the endangered species list. Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Department, with the help of federal funding and more than 60 agencies and organizations, is compiling an inventory and plan for the state's animals most in need of conservation, according to Jon Kart, comprehensive wildlife conservation strategy coordinator for the department. The list, called the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, will include what experts believe are the best management practices for more than 200 animals, from lynxes and silver- haired bats to southern bog lemmings and American bitterns. The study looks at plants as well. The goal is to list the mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, invertebrates and insects that are rare or whose populations are declining, and to identify and implement conservation methods before the creatures become so rare that restoring populations is expensive and potentially not possible. The program is funded by the State Wildlife Grants program, a federal source that aims to survey and protect animals that aren't on the endangered species list and those that aren't typically hunted or fished, according to Kart. Vermont is not alone in this mission. The 49 other states and several territories are participating in the conservation program as well, Kart said. Federal money is awarded based on a formula that takes into account a state's size as well as its population. Kart said he is in frequent contact with those working on the same project in other states, to see what sort of management plans can be implemented regionally.


Viet Nam Protects Owston’s Civet
December 30, 2004 vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn

HA NOI — Cuc Phuong National Park near Ha Noi recently shipped three breeding pairs of Owston’s Civet to England, marking the beginning of an international conservation program to breed the endangered species. Owston’s Civet (Chrotogale owstoni) is a species of small carnivore that lives in forests in northern and central Viet Nam, Laos and southern China. Listed as globally threatened, it is one of the highest priority species for conservation action by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) /SSC Small Carnivore Specialist Group. It is under serious threat from widespread hunting and trapping – its meat is supplied to restaurants, body parts to traditional medicine makers and beautiful skin to taxidermists in Viet Nam and China. The Owston’s Civet Conservation Programme in Cuc Phuong has been working to conserve this and other species of small carnivores in Viet Nam for the last nine years. It has been established to minimise the risks associated with holding all the animals in one location and aims to maintain a captive population of these civets until Viet Nam’s protected areas are under less threat and more is known about the animals’ exact ecological needs.


Saving Saunder’s Gull in China
December 30, 2004 english.peopledaily.com.cn

In the 1980s, George Archibald, former president of International Crane Foundation, came from Canada to Shuangtaihekou National Nature Reserve in Panjin, Liaoning Province, to carry out research on the bird. Liu Detian's, a reporter from the local Panjin Daily, interviewed him. In the following years, Liu filed many stories about the wetlands and is a devoted protector of the birds. In 1990 some ornithologists from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) came to conduct research and announced that Panjin is the breeding habitat for the endangered Saunder's gull. It was said the rare gull was first found by a French missionary in Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province in 1871. Nothing was known about their breeding habitat, only that they wintered in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Liu, touched by the gulls plight, poured everything he had - time, money and enthusiasm - into the bird's welfare. He called upon the local government to ban hunting in the wetlands and wrote articles about how to help injureded birds. In order to better protect this endangered species, Liu set up a Saunder's gull protection association in 1991 and brought together a team of environmentalists from all walks of life.


Sex-change' chemical cocktail threatens otters
December 30, 2004 uk.news.yahoo.com

ONE of Scotland's best loved yet most elusive mammal species is still at risk of contamination from dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals, despite them having been banned almost a quarter of a century ago. A report obtained by The Scotsman shows that otters, one of our most endangered aquatic animals, contain worrying levels of organochlorines and the toxic heavy metal mercury. It also indicates the presence of persistent toxic pollutants in Scottish waters. The European otter (Lutra lutra) is classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as "vulnerable to extinction", although it has recently shown some improvement in breeding numbers. However, the chemicals which have been found in Scottish otters is suspected of causing sexual deformities in other species, decreasing fertility and threatening to reduce population numbers. In particular, polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) are leading to "gender altered" polar bears after the discovery of female bears with both male and female sexual organs.


Seoul Zoo’s Chicken Exhibition
December 30, 2004 times.hankooki.com

Seoul Grand Park is holding an exhibition of roosters and hens from all over the world in celebration of the Year of the Rooster. Chinese calendars are composed of solar, lunar and stem-branch systems. The stem-branch system has 10 stems such as wood, sun and fire and 12 branches such as rat, dragon and tiger. Those stems and branches are combined into a cycle of 60 counting systems. The year 2005 is the green (wood) chicken, which is 22nd in the stem-branch system. The giant zoo, run by Seoul City, started the exhibition with a total of 44 chickens and 22 different breeds on Thursday in Kwachon, Kyonggi Province. The exhibition will continue through the end of February. Among the global chickens, Polish, a rare chicken with a gaudy comb on the top of its head, Bantam, a chicken from southern China and South-east Asia with a small body and short legs and the short-tempered Red Jungle Fowl, which lives off of lizards and frogs, have attracted much attention from the public. The long-tailed fowl from Japan, which showed off its two-meter long tail, was another interesting bird.


Seminar on Endangered Species
December 30, 2004, www.azertag.com

A seminar dealing with international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora has been held in Vilm island, Germany, State Customs Committee /SCC/ said. The seminar was attended by representatives of the governmental (customs, ecology) and non-governmental organizations of the South Caucasus states. According to the chief of the SCC department of customs supervision management Shahin Bagirov, the seminar aimed at informing the participants of the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna" requirements and deepening cooperation among countries in this sphere. Besides, seminar participants discussed requirements arising from the Convention, legal trade rules and activity of customs bodies. The seminar participants visited Frankfurt International Airport to familiarize themselves with the customs activities towards protection of wild flora and fauna species.


Six Lynx Kittens Born in Colorado
December 31, 2004 www.enn.com By Judith Kohler

DENVER — The year ended happily for state biologists with news that six more lynx kittens have been born to transplanted lynx in Colorado, bringing the total of newborns to 36 this year and 52 since a reintroduction program began in 1999. The discoveries, confirmed this month, signal a positive trend for a program that got off to a rocky start. Four of the first five transplanted Canada lynx starved to death and opponents sued to stop release of the cats. At least 85 of 166 long-haired, tuft-eared cats released in southwest Colorado since 1999 are known to be alive. The whereabouts of about 20 more aren't known because their radio collars have worn out. State biologists want to release up to 50 more in April. Already, 16 lynx captured in Quebec, Canada, are in a holding pen in the southern part of the state. "We were able to get 36 lynx from Canada last year and that's what we had in production this year. That's actually phenomenal," said Scott Wait, a Division of Wildlife biologist.


Zoo Nebraska director leaves
December 31, 2004 www.aberdeennews.com

ROYAL, Neb. - The former director of Zoo Nebraska left this week without commenting on his termination. Meanwhile, the zoo's board remained mum on Dale Bakken's departure and on who his replacement might be. Bakken was out of town earlier this week when his wife received his termination letter. Sandra Bakken said she gave her husband the letter when he returned home Wednesday. "He immediately began packing things and getting ready to move," Sandra Bakken told the Norfolk Daily News. The couple had lived in their home rent-free as part of Dale Bakken's compensation. Sandra Bakken said she and her husband hardly discussed the letter. Jerry Peterson, vice president of the zoo's board of directors, did not immediately return a phone message left Friday seeking comment. He was expected to release a statement on the situation by Monday.


Oregon Zoo Raised Fees
December 31, 2004 www.oregonlive.com

For a third straight year, visitors to the Oregon Zoo will have to shell out more cash to view their favorite animals.Starting Sunday, a new $1 parking fee will top an extra 50-cent bump on all admission prices. Adult tickets will now cost $9.50. Tickets for senior citizens 65 and older will go up to $8, and admission is $6.50 for children ages 3 to 11. Admission is free for children 2 and younger. The increased rates are an attempt by zoo officials to raise revenue for growing utility and employee expenses. But the extra fees could make a trip to the zoo an expensive outing for some, ultimately discouraging visitors. Despite a record-breaking month in December, the Oregon Zoo is struggling to cover operating costs, which officials expect to grow by almost $1 million next year. The increased fees will help pay for higher water rates and employee health benefits, but no new exhibits, said zoo Director Tony Vecchio.


Shimla Park gets snow leopards
December 31, 2004 athens-olympics-2004.newkerala.com

[India News]: Shimla,: The Kufri nature park on the outskirts of this hill resort has just received a pair of snow leopards and six Himalayan wolves from the Padmaja Naidu Zoo in Darjeeling (West Bengal) under an animal exchange program. A.K. Gulati, the state wildlife chief said "The snow leopard is so rare that in Himachal Pradesh only 30 such wild cats are left." The snow leopard falls in the red list of endangered species in the world. The half a dozen wolves join a lone wolf at the Kufri park, some 15 km from here. Recent DNA studies suggest that the Himalayan wolf could be the oldest wolf species in the world. A team of wildlife experts had gone to fetch the animals from Darjeeling. Under the animal exchange program, the team carried with it some equally rare animals - five colourful monal pheasants and a pair of Himalayan deer. Some four years ago, the Kufri nature park had a lone female snow leopard but it died due to respiratory problems. The new set of animals were to arrive here almost a year ago but the Indian Air Force had reportedly asked Rs.250,000 for the long journey. Due to lack of funds the exchange program was shelved. It still remains unclear if the animals were transported by air or road, as officials are unwilling to disclose details.


Another Baboon baby at Wellington Zoo
December 31, 2004, www.scoop.co.nz

Two new lion cubs weren't the only Christmas arrivals at Wellington Zoo. A baby girl was born on Christmas Eve to Grit, one of the Zoo's Hamadryas Baboons, bringing the number of baboons at the Zoo to 21. Keeper Paul Horton says the baby, who hasn't been named yet, is doing well and is one of two new arrivals to the baboon group at the Zoo, with a baby boy having been born on 6 December. Baboons carry their babies on their stomachs or backs until they're weaned so the babies can be seen with their mothers in the Baboon enclosure. The baboon babies aren't the Zoo's only new additions - two new lion cubs called Malik (eight months) and Zulu (nine months) went on public display just before Christmas. The half brothers were born in Auckland Zoo and join the Zoo's other male lion and three lionesses. The cubs have met Sam, Djane, Djembe and Zhara through the bars of adjoining cages, but it will be a gradual process of introduction before they can join the lionesses in one enclosure. "They need time to get used to each other," says Paul. "So the cubs will be kept separate from the others for now. However, they will spend a large part of every day out in the enclosure for public viewing." All the babies can be seen tomorrow when the Zoo opens between 9.30am - 5pm on New Year's Day for 'Happy Zoo Year!'.


Wild Animal Park Bird Show Closes
December 31, 2004 www.signonsandiego.com By Craig Gustafson

For 28 years, Poncho never called in sick, never took a vacation and never had a day off. But after today, the singing parrot can finally kick back and relax. That's because Poncho and his fellow birds will perform their final three shows today at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The Free Flight Bird Show, which has entertained an estimated 35 million visitors and generations of San Diegans, is winding up a nearly three-decade run at the park and is searching for a new home. The show's operator, Escondido-based Berwick Productions, chose not to renew its contract with the park. "All really great things really do have to come to an end," said Sunni Black, Berwick's vice president. "We're really going to miss it. . . . This has been our home." The decision had nothing to do with money or any problems with the park; it was just time for a change, Black said in response to several questions on why Berwick was leaving. Black, also an animal trainer, said the show would likely end up in another zoo or similar arena such as the Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, although no deal has been made.


No Wildlife Casualties from Tsunami
December 31, 2004 abclocal.go.com

Amazingly, not one casualty has been recorded among the wildlife that inhabits the disaster stricken area around the Indian Ocean. And that raises new questions about animals' sixth sense. Beyond an annihilated coastline that extends thousands of miles, Indonesia has a rainforest. It's home to creatures from elephants to tigers to ring-tailed lemurs. And then there are the birds. Many of them are endangered. They all fly and roam free in Sumatra, Jakarta, and India. In this tsunami, wildlife apparently preserved itself. "Many species of animals react and sort of plan their lives according to weather patterns and so they're reactive to the environment," said Houston Zoo curator Sharon Joseph. There is no scientific proof that animals sense disaster. But there's plenty of belief. Technically, it's called empirical evidence. Joseph puts a lot of stock in it. "That animals can pick up on when natural disasters are about to occur, you see it in other areas with animals when earthquakes are about to occur," she said. "They seem to react differently to their surroundings and they may move away from the area." Yet it may also be a matter of location. The rainforests are removed from the coastline on higher, safer ground. Houston Zoo primate specialist Lynn Killum says, "So there was some space and consequently time where the animals, even if the wave went very far, they could either get away quickly enough or they simply lived further in on the island. Undoubtedly they felt the earthquake." There is the thought that animals are closer to nature and the earth, so they're more sensitive to their rhythms. Regardless, they apparently survived what thousands of people didn't. Different zoo agencies around the world are raising funds to get aid and food to the animals that were displaced by the tsunamis.