Latest Zoo & Conservation News
Week ending August 20, 2011

Compiled by:
Library Staff
San Diego Zoo Global

Action for Nature names 19 International Young Eco-Heroes
August 9, 2011

Action for Nature named nineteen young people as this year's International Young Eco-Heroes. These winners have "raised thousands of dollars to support environmental issues," including wildlife protection, planting trees, providign clean drinking water, global warming and sustainable living. Action for Nature is an American non-profit organization,and has recognized over 100 youngsters, ages 8 to 16, since 2003. Beryl Kay, president of Action for Nature, calls the students' achievements "amazing and inspirational."

Full press release:

Remembering Ray Anderson, advocate for corporate environmental sustainability
August 10, 2011 By Paul Vitello

Ray C. Anderson, Chairman and and CEO of Interface, Inc., died Tuesday of cancer at age 77. He is remembered as an advocate for reducing manufacturing waste and carbon emissions. After reading The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken, Mr. Anderson experienced an epiphany, and as a result implemented changes in his own company that saved an estimated $262 million from waste alone, and reducing his company's carbon footprint by almost half. Anderson, who has been "crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions," was able to reduce the carbon footprint of his company by half. He once said, after reading Hawken's book, "A new definition of success burst into my consciousness, and the latent sense of legacy asserted itself. I got it. I was a plunderer of Earth, and that is not the legacy one wants to leave behind."

Full article: helps gardeners trade excess produce
August 11, 2011

A new website, has been developed by Lori Barudoni in Folsom, CA. Based on zip code location, gardeners or people with fruit trees can contact others to trade excess produce. The site uses a point system, so fruit or vegetables shared in fall can accrue points that can be used later on when other produce ripens.

From the article:

"My hope is that will change the way people think about gardening and edible landscaping as it relates to sustainable living," says Barudoni. Just think if during this harvest season everyone with a fruit tree or a garden traded their abundance for what they needed with everyone in their zip code, what a difference it would make to the planet as well as the community. The planet would benefit from reducing the amount of resources that go into food being transported so far from the source. Communities would benefit with an increase in the availability of fresh and organic food, decreased grocery bills for families, and as a bonus individuals would be helping the environment by lowering their carbon footprint.

The website provides a tool for members of a community to join together to create area trading groups and "increase food sustainability in their neighborhoods"

For more information visit

Full article:

USDA entomologist researching causes of bumblebee decline
August 11, 2011

James Strange, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is doing research to learn why bumble bee populations are declining. Among the issues are problems with disease in Bombus occidentalis, a bee species used in greenhouse pollination, and the resulting use of the generalist pollinator Bombus impatiens. B.impatiens, a midwest and eastern U.S. species, may "compete with native bees for food and resources and expose native bumble bees to pathogens they are ill equipped to combat." if introduced in the western states.

From the article:

To understand the decline of B. occidentalis, Strange and his colleagues also have been tracking its habitat range and population trends. Evidence gathered so far shows that the range and populations of B. occidentalis have declined, that it is not as genetically diverse as it used to be, and that it has higher pathogen prevalence than other bee species with stable populations....

The researchers also have assembled a large database with information on more than 80,000 Bombus specimens representing 10 species throughout the country, including B. occidentalis. With Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling technology, they were able to construct historic and current range maps of several bumble bee species.

If a generalist bumble bee native to the western United States can be raised in a lab setting, it may be a solution to greenhouse pollination problems. Dr. Strange and his colleagues are currently trying to raise the western species Bombus huntii in the lab.

Full article:

CITATION: Cameron SA, et al. 2011. Patterns of widewpread decline in North American bumble bees. PNAS 108(2):662-667. doi:10.1073/pnas.1014743108

Avant-Garden returns to Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden
August 11, 2011

Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden is bringing back their Avant-Garden event, which will run from September 12 - January 1. The main focus will be an installation of sculptor David Rogers' "Big Bugs", sculptures which have been "carefully created...from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other natural materials. The sculptures weigh from 300 to 1,200 pounds and range from seven feet to 25 feet long."

Also taking place during Avant-Garden (from the article):

Events are limited to guests age 21+ years and take place on Thursday nights during October and November from 6:00 - 8:30 pm. The cost is $12 for members and $18 for the general public. For more information visit the Desert Botanical Garden's website.

Full press release:

Timken Museum of Art releases iPad app for George Inness paintings
August 11, 2011 By Maren Dougherty

The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park has just released an iPad application that allows people to explore the works of 19th century landscape painter George Inness. It is the "first iPad app that a Balboa Park institution has launched," made in conjunction with the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) and ArtFinder. The app allows people to zoom into the images of Inness' paintings and share images through email or Facebook. The George Inness exhibit runs through September 18 at the Timken Museum.

To download the app:

Full blog post:

The glass is half-full: conservation has made a difference
August 11, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

According to a paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, "decades of conservation actions at multiple scales have had a positive impact for many of the world's endangered species." Successful projects have been overshadowed by the bad news on diodiversity decline, but there is some good news. They discuss both micro-scale conservation, such as national protected areas, and macro-scale efforts which involve multiple countries, such as public pressure forcing companies to change how they produce their merchandise. Additionally, the paper argues that global organizations such as the IUCN and CITES "have been boons to conservation efforts and biodiversity overall, even if imperfect--underfunded or poorly enforced--at times.

From the article:

In the end, conservation is about preserving life on Earth and successes should be celebrated. According to the paper, at least 16 birds from 5 continents would have gone extinct between 1994 and 2004 if not for direct conservation action. In addition the paper notes that a large number of iconic species—from bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia), and Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) to the Arabian oryx (Eschrichtius robustus)—have been saved by concentrated efforts at different scales. While it's difficult to determine just how many species have been saved from extinction by conservation actions—from protected areas to global agreements—its hard to imagine how animals like tigers, elephants, gorillas, and pandas could have survived the past century without conservationists' unflagging help, at times in the midst of overwhelming threats.

...The researchers write that "more conservation projects fail than succeed, and our highlighting of successes here should not be taken as a call to rest on our laurels. Instead, our aim is to engender hope and inspire others to continue their dedicated efforts." They recommend that conservation not only gain strength from past successes, but also learn what works and monitor both success and failure for the future.

Full article:

CITATION: Sodhi NS, Butler R, Laurance WF, Gibson L. 2011. Conservation successes at micro-, and meso- and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.07.002

LA Council moves ahead with zoo privatization plan
August 12, 2011 By Kate Linthicum

The Los Angeles City Council will begin soliciting proposals from private or nonprofit organizations to manage the Los Angeles Zoo. City analysts are also charged to look for other options that would save money and allow the city to continue to control the zoo. Privatization is opposed by many zoo workers. Two potential operators have expressed interest, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and Parques Reunidos, an operator of "70 amusement partks, waterparks and zoos worldwide."

From the article:

Miguel Santana, the city’s top budget official, said turning over management would help save city jobs because it would, over time, lower the cost of employee salaries, benefits and pensions. “We’re trying to relieve pressure on the system so layoffs are less likely, not more likely,” Santana said.

Santana said that if the city does not privatize management, the zoo could lose funding and face possible closure as city officials struggle to close a $200-million budget gap. That deficit is expected to grow in future years. Like many city departments, the zoo and botanical gardens have faced budget cuts and staff reductions. Over the last five years, 15% of zoo staff have been cut, according to Santana.

Full blog post:

Genetic barcoding gives scientists closer look into ecosystems
August 12, 2011 By Juli Berwald

Biologists developed "genetic barcodes" based on the DNA of plants and animals eight years ago. Now those barcodes are becoming an ecological tool in identifying animals or plants, and also understanding ecosystem interactions. These genetic barcodes have allowed scientists to determine that there are multiple species in populations thought to be one species. Even the contents of fish stomachs can provide genetic information on the species that were consumed, and provide predator/prey linkages. Barcoding projects have been understaken around the globe to increase the available database of species.

From the article:

Genetic barcodes are a sequence of a particular segment of DNA that has just the right amount of variability to identify that species it came from. When an unknown creature -- or part of a creature -- is found, its tissue can be barcoded. If the sequence matches another barcode in one of several international databases, the creature's identity is revealed.

....Barcoding projects are now underway throughout the globe. Near the Arctic Circle in Churchill, Canada, scientists have cataloged 6,000 species, including an unexpectedly large number of insects. In New Guinea, barcodes are used to understand the evolution of butterflies. And in Puerto Rico they're used to decipher how forests are structured.

"Barcoding is like turning up the microscope from 10x to 100x," Meyer said. This helps to give researchers a more detailed picture of the ecosystem than previously seen.

Full article:

CITATION: Meyer C, Leray M, Boehm JT, Dell AI. 2011. Determining trophic relationships in complex food webs using DNA barcoding of gut contents [Abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, August 7-12, 2011. Austin, Texas: ESA. Retrieved online:

First ever birth of Pallas' kittens via artificial insemination
August 12, 2011

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced the birth of three Pallas' cat (Otocolobus manul) kittens on June 8, 2011, following laparoscopic oviductal artificial insemination (AI). This pregnancy and birth are the first ever for a Pallas' Cat as a result of artificial insemination. Pallas' cats, native to Central Asia, are considered near-threatened, and "currently, there are ~50 Pallas’ cats housed in 19 North American zoos."

From the article:

The AI procedure was performed using laparoscopy or minimally invasive surgery combined with a new oviductal insemination technique for cats that was developed at CREW.  The Zoo’s female Pallas’ Cat, Sophia, was treated with two hormones to stimulate ovarian follicle growth and ovulation and then was inseminated in both oviducts with semen collected from the Zoo’s male Pallas’ Cat, Buster.  Three healthy kittens were born following a 69 day gestation.  The kittens, now 9 weeks of age, are being raised by their mother in an off-exhibit enclosure.

The oviductal insemination procedure may allow zoos to introduce new bloodlines using frozen semen from wild males.

Full article:

Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'at risk from pesticide'
August 13, 2011 By Nick Bryant

A report by the Australian government on water quality has determined that agricultural pesticides are causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to unacceptable practices employed by horticulture producers, a cyclone and heavy flooding this year in Queensland may have increased the problem by "flushing pollutants out to sea." The agriculture industry contests the findings, which they say are based on old data. Conservationists would like to see limits placed on pesticides.

From the article:

In recent years, it has been coral bleaching caused by climate change that has damaged the Great Barrier Reef, but the first Australian government report on water quality there has found that agricultural pesticides are posing significant risks. Pesticides have been found up to 60km (38 miles) inside the reef at toxic concentrations known to harm coral.

Limiting pesticide use is seen as detrimental to sugar cane farming, but essential by environmental groups.

Full article:

Treetop camera captures first flight of surviving osprey chick
August 14, 2011

A hidden CCTV television camera captured the first flight of a four-month-old osprey (Pandion haliaetus) chick, the only survivor of three chicks in the Northumberland Kielder Water and Forest Park in England.

From the article:

Rangers thought that spring storms had killed all three chicks. They were delighted to discover that one tiny osprey had survived. "It was quite emotional," said June Banks, who manages the Forestry Commission shop. "The youngster perched himself on the edge of the nest and eventually plucked up the courage to take a leap in the dark… Everything went like clockwork and after a circuit around the nest he arrived back safe and sound."

A second set of ospreys had hatched two chicks earliler, making Kielder "the only place in England for more than 170 years to have two breeding osprey families."

Full article:

China opens tiger skin trade
August 14, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Just prior to a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Speces (CITES) meeting, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has announced that China will allow trade in wild cat skins, including tiger skins. Through a "Skin Registration Scheme", China will only allow the trade of cat skins from legal sources such as captive-bred cats and tiger farms, but critics say this will provide a cover for skins from poached animals.

From the article:

"The Skin Registration Scheme is going in totally the wrong direction. It’s doing nothing to actually help tiger and leopard conservation, instead providing a cover for illegal trade and creating a confused consumer market," says Debbie Banks, EIA Tiger Campaign Head, in a press release.

"Parties to CITES may feel they’ve been misled as a result of China’s tactics," Banks says. "What they’ve failed to grasp is that despite committing to the domestic trade ban on tiger bone, China has refused to make the same commitment over skins or answer questions about how many skins are being traded, but the system is there."

There are approximately 3,500 wild tigers in the world, down from 100,000 in 1900.

Full article:

MOTE Marine Laboratory 'Home School Days'
August 15, 2011

Mote Marine Laboratory, an independent marine research organization in Sarasota, FL, is providing full-day programs for home-schooled students and their families on "Home School Days." Coastal conservation is the subject for this year's series of programs. Students will "experience empowering 'Pollution Patrol' field programs, awesome 'Rescue, Rehab, Release' classroom programs and and exciting 'Conserving our Coast' scavenger hung." The cost is $12 for members, and $17 for non-members.

Full announcement:

Environmentalists allege Dole is clearing forest in Sri Lankan national park for banana plantations
August 15, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Sri Lanka's military has given land in Somawathiya National Park to Letsgrow Ltd., a local company, under a memorandum of understanding that would allow a private company to grow crops on military lands. In partnership with U.S. based Dole Food Company, the rainforest habitat is being cleared to make room for a banana plantation. However, environmentalists say that the military did not have the right to grant this permission, as the military was supposed to return the land to the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation after the end of the country's civil war. The land being cleared is home to between 400 and 500 Sri Lankan Elephants (Elephas maximus maximus), a subspecies listed as endangered.

From the article:

"According to the Fauna and Flora Ordinance, it is a non bailable offense to enter a national park, clear the jungle and to develop the land. The [Sri Lankan Army] has not only allowed the local agents Letsgrow Ltd to trespass on the Somawathiya National Park but has also permitted them to clear a vast area of land for cultivation," the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) director, Sajeewa Chamakara, told The Sunday Leader. Given that no officials have been allowed in to the plantation, there remains confusion how much of the land is in the park, how much is in a buffer zone, and how much on other land. In any case, no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was ever sought by the companies.

There are a number of threatened plant and animal species that live within the national forest, which may be further endanged by a banana plantation.

Full article:

Drug waste harms fish
August 15, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

A series of new studies indicate that effluent from pharmaceutical plants into rivers contain drugs that impact the fish population. Studies of wastewater plants near Hyderabad, India and New York showed high levels of pharmaceutical ingredients. In a study iof the Dore River in France, researchers have linked pharmacetical effluent wtih sex disruption in wild fish populations.

From the article:

"This is a real problem," says Wilfried Sanchez, an ecotoxicologist at the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, and lead author of the study. Sexual abnormalities in gudgeon may not only prevent the fish from breeding, but also signal problems in other species, and a reduction in the fish population could have broader consequences for the river ecosystem.

In results they have yet to publish, Sanchez and his colleagues identified the main pharma­ceutical pollutants in the river as being dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant), spironolactone (a diuretic that also blocks the effects of male sex hormones) and canrenone, also a diuretic. All were measured at concentrations of around 10 micrograms per litre, which is "very high" for biologically active substances, says Sanchez. It is unclear how these compounds ended up in the river.

More study on safe limits for pharmaceuticals in river habitats, and regulatory limitations on drugs commonly found in waterways is indicated.

Full article:

Same-sex zebra finch pairs form long-term bond
August 15, 2011 By Victoria Gill

A study by Julie Elie from the University of California Berkeley and colleagues Clementine Vignal and Nicolas Mathevon from the University of Saint-Etienne determined that zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) form same-sex pairs that exhibit all the behaviors of opposite-sex pairs.

Reporting in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, they observed that the birds establish life-long relationships, are highly social, preen each other and share a nest. "Same-sex pairs of monogamous birds are just as attached and faithful to each other as those paired with a member of the opposite sex."

From the article:

The findings indicate that, even in birds, the drive to find a mate is far more complicated than simply the need to reproduce. "A pair-bond in socially monogamous species represents a cooperative partnership that may give advantages for survival," said Dr Elie. "Finding a social partner, whatever its sex, could be a priority."

There are many other examples of same-sex pairing in the avian world. In monogamous gulls and albatrosses, it gives females the chance to breed without a male partner. "Female partners copulate with a paired male then rear the young together," Dr Elie explained.

The study underscores the complexity of pairing relationships.

Full article:

CITATION: Elie JE, Mathevon N, Vignal C. 2011. Same-sex pair-bonds are equivalent to male-female bonds in a life-long socially monogamous songbird. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1228-9

Nature Canada empowers women farmers in Paraguay to conserve nature and increase food security
August 15, 2011

BirdLife partners Nature Canada and Guyra Paraguay, working with Fortaleser (a social development organization), recently completed a project helping "500 women farmers in four rural communities to increase their food security, improve their health and strengthen their awareness of their own democratic rights."

From the article:

Many of the women in this project live in or adjacent to the buffer zone of the San Rafael Reserve and the San Rafael Important Bird Area (IBA), a place that contains one of the last large remnants of the endangered Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. Guyra Paraguay has been working for more than a decade here to strengthen its relationships with the San Rafael communities and build support for biodiversity protection – namely promote sustainable agriculture and prevent deforestation and monocultures.

Integrating conservation work with development projects like these is based on the belief that for conservation efforts to be effective, they must deliver benefits to local people. As a partner within the BirdLife International network, Nature Canada has been working with partners in the Americas since 1999 on projects that balance conservation objectives and local needs—social and economic.

This project, by improving the lives of the people in these communities, is also helping to secure a future for the region’s wildlife, including twenty-five species of bird that are at risk globally, like Endangered Black-fronted Piping-guan, Vulnerable Helmeted Woodpecker, and Near-Threatened Solitary Tinamou.

For more information on the project, visit Nature Canada's website.

Full article:

Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil
August 15, 2011

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK have determined a relationship between climate change, tree growth in tropical forests, increased litterfall and a release of soil carbon.

The researchers used results from a six-year experiment in a rainforest at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Central America, to study how increases in litterfall -- dead plant material such as leaves, bark and twigs which fall to the ground -- might affect carbon storage in the soil. Their results show that extra litterfall triggers an effect called 'priming' where fresh carbon from plant litter provides much-needed energy to micro-organisms, which then stimulates the decomposition of carbon stored in the soil.

Lead author Dr Emma Sayer from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Most estimates of the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical forests are based on measurements of tree growth. Our study demonstrates that interactions between plants and soil can have a massive impact on carbon cycling. Models of climate change must take these feedbacks into account to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels."

The study indicates that the amount of carbon being released from tropical forests could be greater than previously thought. Impact on the carbon cycle is unknown.

Full article:

CITATION: Sayer EJ, et al. 2011. Soil carbon release enhanced by increased tropical forest litterfall. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1190

2,000+ stream miles of critical habitat proposed for protection of endangered southwestern willow flycatcher
August 15, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed 2,090 miles of stream be protected habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii). Previously, only 730 miles of stram had been designated. The flycatcher is considered an endangered species.

From the press release:

“With this proposal, the southwestern willow flycatcher has a shot at survival,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “Like so many species dependent on the rivers and streams of the Southwest, the southwestern willow flycatcher is on the brink of extinction and urgently needs more habitat protection.”

The proposed designation includes numerous important and well-known rivers, including the San Gabriel, Ventura, San Diego, Virgin, Colorado, Little Colorado, Gila, Rio Grande, and San Pedro.

“Protection of southwestern rivers for the flycatcher will benefit hundreds of other species and millions of people, too, who depend on these rivers for water and recreation,” said Greenwald. “There are so many benefits, economic and otherwise, of protecting endangered species that are often underappreciated.” 

Read the announcement in the Federal Register:

Full press release:

Draft plans for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska
August 15, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 157
FWS-R7-2010-N290; 70133-1265-0000-S3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) for public review and comment. In this document, we describe goals and objectives, management direction, and alternatives to manage the Refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final CCP. Also available for review in the document are draft compatibility determinations, a draft wilderness review, and a draft wild and scenic river review prepared in association with the CCP, as well as supporting documents required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by November 14, 2011. We will hold public meetings in communities within and near the Refuge, and also in the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, in Alaska. We will announce these upcoming public meetings in local news media.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more information by any of the following methods. You may request a 20-page summary of the CCP; a 1,200-page hard copy of the full CCP; or a CD-ROM of the summary and full document. Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the summary or full CCP document at E-mail: Include "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge draft CCP and draft EIS'' in the subject line of the message. Fax: Attn: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, (907) 456-0428. U.S. Mail: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 101 12th Ave., Rm. 236, Fairbanks, AK 99701.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, at the address listed above, by phone at (907) 456-0501, or by e-mail at

Full announcement:

Rediscovered species require intense conservation efforts
August 15, 2011

A recent study on amphibian, bird, and mammal species reported to be extinct in the past 122 years has found that at least 351 of these species were “rediscovered”. Most rediscoveries occurred in the tropics, and species predominantly maintain small range sizes seriously threatened by habitat loss. These factors translate into weak population recovery, indicating that unless conservation is henceforth aggressively pursued, extinction may merely be delayed. The average time species in the study went missing is 61 years, which indicates difficulty in conservation planning directed at missing species. Overall, the study highlights limited current knowledge about tropical biological diversity and emphasizes the need for further area studies.

Full article:

CITATION: Scheffers BR, et al. 2011. The world's rediscovered species: back from the brink? PLoS ONE 6(7):e22531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022531

Fairfield's campus garden serving as an outdoor classroom
August 15, 2011 By Jerrod Ferrari

Created in 2010 as a project organized by the Campus Sustainability Committee, Fairfield University’s 3,000 square foot campus garden is already a vibrant contributor to the Connecticut university. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators all play diverse roles in maintaining and promoting the project. It currently serves as a laboratory for students, a resource for core science courses, the subject a web design project for engineering students, and a means of locally sourced ingredients for campus Dining Services. Through the garden, student learning encompasses a broad spectrum, including soil quality, pollination, pest control, environmental challenges, experiment design, confidence in personal gardening, and appreciation of food production among students. This year, the garden is producing carrots, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, kale, garlic, shallots, green beans, peppers, and herbs.

Full article:

Milwaukee County Zoo provides iPads for orangutan enrichment
August 15, 2011 By Brian Crecente

At the Milwaukee County Zoo, iPads are currently being introduced as enrichment objects for orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). The primates already show preference for favorite apps, shows, and games, though keepers are exercising caution with use of the devices at present; even a juvenile orangutan could destroy an iPad with ease in a bout of frustration or excitement. Scott Engel, the zoo’s iPad Enrichment Coordinator, works with orangutans MJ and Mahal for three or four 20 minute sessions each week. He began his project by visually introducing the device in camera mode from behind glass, yet the orangutans now enjoy full access, during which they use finger-paint app DrawFree, watch television shows, and play games that feed their natural curiosity. This form of enrichment involves no rewards; the orangutans participate because of their own interest.

Milwaukee County Zoo Orangutan Outreach staff hope that this pilot initiative may pave the way for similar projects at zoos nationwide, especially where orangutans require mental stimulation to keep boredom and depression at bay during winter months.  Zoo Atlanta, which already touts an “enrichment tree” built with touchscreens, may be the next implementer, though zoos in Toronto, Phoenix, Honolulu, Memphis, and Florida have also expressed interest. The project’s second phase aims at creating social interactions between orangutans at different zoos through iPads, and an eventual goal may involve enabling zoo visitors to play with or against primates through shared iPhone or iPad apps. Physical device fragility, however, presently remains an issue.

Full article:

Big jump in San Diego County fires caused by target shooting
August 15, 2011 By Ed Joyce

Recreational target shooting has reportedly started 10 fires this year, a large jump from two known to be caused in 2010. Shooters are urged to use caution by operating in a cleared area, being aware of what is behind a target, and using cooler times of day with higher humidity levels when shrapnel is less likely to ignite a fuel bed. Both steel-tipped and steel-cored bullets have been recovered at fire sites and are attributed as probable fire sources.

Full article:

Philly Zoo's new Treetop Trail gives visitors up-close look at primates traveling overhead
August 15, 2011 By Brad Tuttle

The Treetop Trail, a network of approximately 700 feet of flexible, transparent stainless steel mesh tubes, was recently unveiled at the Philadelphia Zoo. Small primates, including blue eyed black lemurs (Eulemur flavifrons), Bolivian gray titi monkeys (Callicebus donacophilus), golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia), and red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus), can now use the tubes to explore trees, walkways, and travel within a six foot range of zoo visitors. Access to the tubes will be on a “time share” basis between species, and use will be voluntary by the animals. Visitors are assured that human viewing spaces will remain “free of debris”, as solid protective structures are place at each spot that visitors may walk directly underneath.

Full article:

Trout populations face threat from climate change
August 15, 2011 By Erik Stokstad

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to analyze probable impacts of climate change as they affect common trout species. Researchers ran climate models and plugged habitat and fish data for 9890 locations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin to generate predictions. According to the study’s forecast, trout habitat will be cut in half by 2080 as a result of rising river temperatures and altered flood patterns. Of the four trout species analyzed, each is predicted to experience a different level of habitat loss. Brown trout (Salmo trutta), cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii), and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are predicted to be affected by 48%, 58%, and 77% habitat loss respectively due to competition and warming water temperatures that upset fall spawning. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), which spawn in fall as well as spring, will be the least affected species with a predicted 35% habitat loss. Though little can be done to reduce the affects of changing winter floods, land managers strategize by planting trees and shrubs in attempts to keep streams cool.

Full blog post:

CITATION: Wenger SJ, et al. 2011. Flow regime, temperature, and biotic interactions drive differential declines of trout species under climate change. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1103097108

Walking sticks made by Paignton Zoo gorilla sold by zoo on eBay for charity
August 16, 2011

Kumbuka, a 13-year-old lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) at Paignton Zoo in Devon, UK, is doing his part to help ape conservation by assisting keepers in making walking sticks, which are sold on eBay to benefit the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust’s ape protection efforts.  The gorilla helps by stripping bark from sticks. Though Kumbuka has a tendency to break many of the smaller sticks, those that he leaves intact are further refined and varnished by human helpers.  The project represents a rare opportunity for the public to purchase a unique object with a direct link to the species its proceeds go to protect.

Full article:

Capybara spotted roaming in Paso Robles
August 16, 2011 By Olsen Ebright

A capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeri), the world’s largest rodent, was reportedly spotted in Paso Robles, California, a long way from its native habitat in South America; it is assumed that the animal originated in the area as an exotic pet. Initial reports of the capybara first surfaced three years ago at the Hunter Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles, though at that time the animal was assumed to actually be a beaver. Less than two years ago, however, the capybara was spotted again while chasing a dog, at which point the dog’s owner fired a shotgun at the rodent. Investigators confirmed the capybara’s footprints, though it was presumed dead after no further sightings were reported. On July 22, 2011, the capybara resurfaced once again in the pool of a Paso Robles water treatment plant. This time, plant workers captured the 100-120 pound, highly nocturnal animal on camera, though a sighting has yet to be reported since. “Capybaras stand about 2 feet tall and communicate with ‘barks, chirps, whistles, huffs, and purrs,’ according to the San Diego Zoo.” If the animal resurfaces, the California Department of Fish and Game seeks to capture it in a live trap.

Full article:

Dolphins in Asia's Mekong River on brink of extinction, group says
August 16, 2011

According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, only 85 Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) remain in the Mekong River, leaving the group on the brink of extinction. Though other populations exist in the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Mahakam River in Indonesia, these too are critically endangered. Dwindling population size is due in part to older dolphin die-off, high calf mortality rates, and the threat of gill net entanglement. Viewed as sacred by the Khmer and Lao people and a source of local revenue through dolphin-watching ecotourism, the Irrawaddy dolphins’ significance extends beyond their own vitality, impacting human culture as well.

Full article:

Endangered species recovery permit applications
August 16, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 158
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N158; 80221-1113-0000-F5

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (Act) prohibits activities with endangered and threatened species unless a Federal permit allows such activity. The Act also requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before September 15, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Written data or comments should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464; fax: 916-414-6486). Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist; see ADDRESSES (telephone: 760-431-9440; fax: 760-431-9624).


Permit No. TE-797267
Applicant: H.T. Harvey & Associates, Los Gatos, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, passive integrated transponder [PIT] tag, radio collar, and release) the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with surveys, research, and population monitoring activities in San Luis County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-844028
Applicant: A.A. Rich and Associates, San Enselmo, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (survey, electrofish, net, capture, and release) the Pahranagat roundtail chub (Gila robusta jordani) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in Lincoln County, Nevada, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-221290
Applicant: Lee Ripma, San Diego, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) and take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-815144
Applicant: Rosemary Thompson, Santa Barbara, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (capture, handle, release, and collect tail tissue and voucher specimens) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and take (capture, handle, and release) the unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) in conjunction with survey activities and population studies throughout the range of the species for the salamander and within the Santa Clara River Drainage for the stickleback in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48149A
Applicant: Tammy C. Lim, Oakland, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, mark, take biological samples, transport, relocate, and release) the San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) in conjunction with survey, research, and habitat enhancement activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-018909
Applicant: Kelly M. Rios, Brea, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48170A
Applicant: Lisa Ann Gadsby, Encinitas, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48210A
Applicant: Becky Rozumowicz, Orangevale, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48214A
Applicant: Tracy K. Bain, San Francisco, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and behavioral research activities in Sonoma County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-142435
Applicant: Debra M. Shier, Topanga, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, mark, tag, obtain genetic samples, attach radio-telemetry devices, hold in captivity, transport, translocate, and release to the wild) the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) and the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with survey and research activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Full announcement:

Chester Zoo undergoes rebranding effort
August 16, 2011 By Gavin Lucas

The Chester Zoo of Chester, UK has just completed a rebranding initiative through Music, a Manchester-based design company. The zoo’s new identity focuses on hand drawn typeface and logotype, as well as a distinctive, playful tone of voice. Varying font weights, contextual alternatives, and animal-themed alternate characters are available to suit specific textual messages and purposes. A color palatte and stand alone animal illustrations to be used on various zoo marketing initiatives were also developed to further unify the zoo’s image.  A website update which will reflect the rebranding is currently underway.

From the article:

"The new brand centres on a personality and voice rooted in the work of those who make Chester Zoo what it is, encompassing their passion, integrity and knowledge," says Music's Anthony Smith who worked on the project with Craig Oldham. "Add to this the license for creative expression in how the font works and is applied – and the zoo has the means to make a powerful impact and really stand out in a competitive sector," he continues, "by telling their story in a very natural and genuine way."

Full article with images of rebranding:

'Astonish Me' Video celebrates WWF's 50th birthday
August 16, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A short film called "Astonish Me" was created by the WWF to celebrate the organization's 50th birthday celebration.

From the press release:

"Astonish Me shows that the natural world is every bit as magical and surprising as the fictional world you might see in a Hollywood film. We know about less than a tenth of the species that we suspect are out there and I really hope this film inspires a new generation of conservationists to be curious about the natural world and to want to protect it," executive producer of the film Colin Butfield, head of Campaigns WWF-UK, said in a press release.

Full article and link to video:

Analyzing corticosterone in feathers provides view of birds' long-term stress levels
August 16, 2011

Birds, like other animals, secrete a hormone called corticosterone when they are stressed. Their stress levels can thus be determined by analyzing blood samples. However, a new non-invasive method of analyzing stress levels in collected bird feathers was discovered. Not only can this method detect avian stress response "to sudden natural threats but also to human-caused activities that have a long-term impact on the environment, such as large construction projects or oil spills." The reason for this is that feathers "reflect hormone levels during the time it takes feathers to grow," as opposed to the "snapshot" offered by blood draws.

Full article:

CITATION: Lattin CR, Reed JM, DesRochers DW, Romero LM. 2011. Elevated corticosterone in feathers correlates with corticosterone-induced decreased feather quality: a validation study. Journal of Avian Biology 42(3):247-252. doi:10.1111/j.1600-048X.2010.05310.x

San Diego Zoo Global, PLNU to unveil new economic index to measure biomimicry
August 16, 2011

On August 24 at the San Diego Zoo, SDZG and Point Loma Nazarene will unveil the Da Vinci Index, which will provide a measure of the biomimicry industry.

Excerpt from the article:

Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, will unveil the Da Vinci Index at the San Diego Zoo. The Da Vinci Index measures biomimicry- the application of biological principles to human design challenges – and its related activity over the past decade and going forward with the goal of raising awareness of the emerging field.

... In November 2010, the Fermanian Institute issued its groundbreaking report, "Global Biomimicry Efforts: An Economic Game Changer,” which was commissioned by San Diego Zoo Global, and concluded that a Biomimicry Hub in San Diego could initially create a total of more than 2,100 new jobs with US$325 million added to San Diego’s annual gross regional product and US$162 million in total personal income (both figures in 2010 dollars) by 2025.

...The Da Vinci Index is designed to provide a tangible metric or barometer of progress in the field by tracking the number of biomimicry-related scholarly articles, patents, and grants, as well as the total amount of grant money spent over time. It joins other tracking indices such as the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, and the S&P 500 Stock Price Index.

Full article:

UC Irvine Arboretum profile
August 16, 2011 By Zot Report

The University of California, Irvine Arboretum focuses mainly on plants from Mediterranean ecosystems and "boasts one of the finest collections of South African bulbous and cormous plants in the world." It is "a 12-acre botanical garden located next to the 200-acre San Joaquin Marsh on the UC Irvine North Campus, dedicated to the conservation of endangered plant species from California and South Africa." The Arboretum was originally started as a nursery in 1964 but has since become a center of conservation for 200 endangered plant species including rare South African aloes. It is open to the public Monday-Saturday from 9:00am-3:00pm.

Full article:

U.S. Botanic Garden scientists save smuggled plants
August 16, 2011 By Jessica Gould

The U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., is made up of a complex of 34 greenhouses and is home to 30,000 plants. It is one of dozens of CITES rescue centers in the country that takes in plants that have been confiscated by international plant smugglers. While some of the plants are simply lacking the proper paperwork to be brought into the county, others (such as many orchid species and certain cacti) are smuggled in to be sold on the black market. Sometimes, the plants are returned to the country of origin, but according to botanist Kyle Wallick, "...sometimes [it's] just too risky to return species to their homelands...because their habitats are being destroyed, or because poachers pose too great a threat." In these cases, botanists and the gardens work to determine the species of the plants they rescue so that they can provide the correct growing conditions.

Full article:

ZSL London Zoo hosts day for children with disabilities
August 17, 2011

The ZSL London Zoo will be hosting their annual Special Children's Day over the weekend of September 10 and 11. The day is geared specifically to "families of children with disabilities, and includes British Sign Language interpreters at animal talks and demonstrations, and guided 'Touch Tours' for visually-impaired children." There will also be additional storytelling sessions and free entrance to the Zoo's "bouncy castle". The zoo is partering with local organizations that will be providing information and support for attending families.

Full article:

Researchers complete first major survey of chytrid fungus in Asia
August 17, 2011

An international team of researchers has completed a survey of chytridiomycosis in Asian amphibians. The survey, which took place from 2001 to 2009, will provide scientists with data that might explain why Asian amphibians have not experienced an extreme population decline like other species have around the world. The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytrid disease, was found to be "prevalent at very low levels in [Asia]," appearing in "only 2.35 percent of the frogs." This could mean that either the fungus is emerging in Asia, "or may have been in Asia at low levels for a long time." The Philippines was found to have the highest level of Bd infection, mirroring similar levels of early outbreaks in the Americas. Therefore, if the Bd found is indicative of an impending chytrid epidemic, scientists think that it will most likely start in this country. The researchers highlighted the need to continue surveying amphibian populations in the area, as many sites were only surveyed once.

Full article:

CITATION: Swei A, et al. 2011. Is Chytridiomycosis and emerging infectious disease in Asia? PLoS ONE 6(8):e23179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023179

Endangered species permit applications
August 17, 2011 Federal Register
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N167; 96300-1671-0000-P5

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits activities with listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. The ESA laws require that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before September 16, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); (e-mail).

III. Permit Applications

A. Endangered Species

Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego, CA; PRT-41278A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples of Fiji crested iguanas (Brachylophus vitiensis), banded igunas (Brachylophus bulabula) and Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus fasciatus) from Fiji for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant for a 5-year period.

Applicant: Nashville Zoo, Nashville, TN; PRT-48554A
The applicant requests a permit to import two captive-born red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) from Birdpark Avifauna, Netherlands for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Valley Zoological Society dba Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville, TX; PRT-48645A
The applicant requests a permit to import two captive held Orinoco crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius) from Ontario, Canada for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Morani River Ranch, Uvalde, TX; PRT-49112A
The applicant requests a permit to authorize interstate and foreign commerce, export, and cull of excess barashingh (Rucervus duvauceli), Eld's deer (Rucervus eldii), and Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) from the captive herds maintained at their facility for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Hawthorn Corporation, Grayslake, IL; PRT-058735, 058738, 059163, 068350, 068353, 154232, and 154233
The applicant requests permits to re-issue for re-export and re-import tigers (Panthera tigris) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are: [058735, Sariska; 058738, Calcutta; 059163, Kushka; 068350, Segal; 068353, Pashawn; 154232, Sirit; and 154233, Shakma]. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a three-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

Multiple Applicants
The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport- hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.
Applicant: Robert Anderson, Casper, WY; PRT-49064A.
Applicant: John Hodges, Alexander City, AL; PRT-49772A.
Applicant: Christopher Stevens, Keller, TX; PRT-49810A.

Full announcement:

Cameratraps take global snapshot of declining tropical mammals
August 17, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) has completed a cameratrap study that mapped "tropical mammal populations across seven countries in some of the world's most important rainforests." Their study found that smaller protected areas resulted in decreased levels of biodiversity while larger, continuous forest areas saw the highest levels of biodiversity and abundance. According to lead author Jorge Ahumada, "The results of the study are important in that they confirm what we suspected: habitat destruction is slowly but surely killing our planet’s mammal diversity." Additionally, the scientists discovered that insect-eating animals were most likely to be affected by habitat loss, followed by omnivores. TEAM expanded their areas of research to 10 additional sites in 2010 and plan to have 40 sites in operation by 2013. The areas included in this study were: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda), Udzungwa Mountains National Park (Tanzania), Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (Indonesia), Nam Kading National Protected Area (Laos), Central Suriname Nature Reserve (Suriname), Manaus (Brazil), and Volcan Barva Transect (Costa Rica).

Full article:

CITATION: Ahumada JA, et al. 2011. Community structure and diversity of tropical forest mammals: data from a global camera trap network. Phil Trans R Soc B 366:2703-2711. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0115

Toronto Zoo to generate biogas from collection animals' manure
August 17, 2011 By May Jeong

The Toronto Zoo is teaming up with ZooShare, a biogas co-op, to turn the zoo's animal waste into electricity.

From the article:

ZooShare’s idea is a simple one: Use the manure from zebras, rhinos, elephants and giraffes to generate biogas. If all goes to plan, the plant will produce 500 kilowatts of power, enough to service 750 homes, and will make $50,000 in annual revenue for the zoo once it is up and running next fall.

The poo will be complemented by waste from neighbouring farms and major retailers. The plant will also produce compost and farm fertilizers, and the cop-op plans to build a greenhouse to use up the nominal amount of heat that will be produced.

Currently, the zoo composts over 6,500 pounds of animal waste every year and uses it to fertilize garden beds. However, the methane that is released from this compost goes directly into the environment, going unused and contributing to climate change.

Full article:

California mountain yellow-legged frogs die in Fresno Zoo's breeding tanks
August 17, 2011

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is one of three participating zoos in a program to breed and reintroduce the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa). This week, 104 of their frogs mysteriously died after metamorphosing from tadpoles in breeding tanks. The zoo has not yet determined why the frogs died. There are only 2 survivng frogs in the zoo's breeding facility, which the zoo is considering sending to another breeding facility to possibly increase their chances of survival. The frogs, which number less than 200 individuals in the wild, are threatened by habitat loss, fungal infections, and predation by nonnative species. Other zoos participating in the breeding program include the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Full article:,0,7097333.story

USFWS seeks to end California sea otter relocations
August 18, 2011 By Tony Barboza

A new proposal from the USFWS would allow the return of California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) to their historic range off the coast of Southern California. Starting in 1987, in an attempt to establish an insurance population, 140 sea otters were relocated from the Monterey Bay to San Nicolas Island, located 60 miles off the coast. The agency also made an agreement with fisherman to transport any otters found in Southern California waters to San Nicolas Island. However, in 1993, the agency stopped relocating any otters to the Central Coast after it was found that many of the transported otters were not surviving the move. In 2009, USFWS was sued by environmental groups to officially end the relocation program, arguing that the animals need to be able to return to their historic ranges in order to increase their population numbers. The agency will announce a draft plan within the next week and will open it up to public comment.

Full article:

Great Barrier Reef: rising turtle deaths prompt warning of wildlife crisis
August 18, 2011 By Oliver Milman

This year, 649 turtles were found dead on the Queensland coast in the first seven months of the year, up from 200 during the same period in 2010. Dugongs (Dugon dugon), which are large marine mammals most closely related to the manatee, have also suffered high losses, with 96 animals reported dead in the first seven months of 2011 compared to 79 for all of 2010. This year, "widespread floods and the subsequent Cyclone Yasi...wiped out around 90% of the seagrass in certain areas of the Great Barrier Reef coast." Seagrass makes up the staple food source for sea turtles. According to Cliff Cobbo of WWF Australia, while in previous years the turtles may have been able to withstand extreme weather events, recent pressures from "more fishing nets, declining water quality and associated disease, [and] loss of critical habitats...have all undermined their chances of survival."

Full article:

Zoofari scavenger hunts at the Mesker Park Zoo
August 19, 2011

The Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana, will be holding two "Zoofari" scavenger hunts on Saturday. The first one will take place in the morning and is for children between the ages of 8 and 13 and a parent. The child-parent scavenger hunt costs $40 per team and includes lunch. The grand prize is a Sports Table, with other prizes awarded for the best team name and best costumes. The evening hunt is for teams of two or more adults, costs $50 per person and includes a drink, dinner and entertainment. The grand prize for the evening scavenger hunt is a Drive Away Vacation and $500 spending money, with additional prizes awarded for best team name and best costumes. Proceeds from the event will benefit the zoo's new reptile exhibit.

To learn more, visit the zoo's website at

Full article:

Draft plans for Kealia Pond and Kakahai'a National Wildlife Refuges, Maui, HI
August 19, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 161
FWS-R1-R-2011-N093; 1265-0000-10137-S3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of our draft comprehensive conservation plans and environmental assessments (Draft CCPs/EAs) for the Ke[amacr]lia Pond and Kakahai'a National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges), for public review and comment. The Draft CCPs/EAs describe our proposals for managing the Refuges for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by September 19, 2011. We will also announce opportunities for public input in local news media throughout the CCP process.

ADDRESSES: Additional information about the Refuges is available on our Web sites You may submit comments or request CD-ROM copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs by any of the following methods. A limited number of printed copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs are also available. E-mail: Include Ke[amacr]lia Pond/Kakahai'a NWRs'' in the subject line of the message.
Fax: Attn: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, (808) 875-2945.
U.S. Mail: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 1042, K[imacr]hei, Hawai'i 96753.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, (808) 875-1582 (phone).

Full announcement:

Woodland Park Zoo's annual Fall Fecal Fest
August 19, 2011

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo will be holding it's semiannual Fecal Fest during the month of September. The event allows community members the opportunity to purchase larger quantities of the zoo's "famous" Zoo Doo and Bedspread compost products.

From the article:

According to the zoo, “Zoo Doo is the most exotic and highly prized compost in the Pacific Northwest. Composed of exotic species feces contributed by the zoo’s non-primate herbivores, Zoo Doo is perfect for vegetables and annuals. Bedspread, the zoo’s premium composted mulch, is like Zoo Doo but with higher amounts of wood chips and sawdust. It’s the perfect mulch for perennial beds and woody landscapes such as native gardens, rose beds, shrubs, tree rings or pathways.”

...Pick-up dates for Zoo Doo or Bedspread begin October 1 and end on October 17. The lucky winners load the compost and the Grand Poopah will arm you with shovels. Pick-up truck 8×4 bed: $60; 6×4 bed: $45; 6×3 bed: $35. Limit one full truck per person. Garbage cans: $8 to $10 depending on size; bags: $4 to $6 depending on size. Two-gallon and pint-sized buckets are available anytime at the ZooStores for $14.95 and $4.95, respectively.

People who want to enter for a chance to purchase Zoo Doo or Bedspread can send postcards addressed to Dr. Doo at the Woodland Park. Winners will be chosen at random.

Full article:

Shell stops North Sea leak after 10 days
August 19, 2011 By Fiona Harvey

Excerpt from the article:

Shell has finally stopped the leak from its faulty oil pipeline in the North Sea, ending the flow of oil undersea after 10 days of the worst oil spill in UK waters for a decade.

Divers closed a relief valve which was the source of a small secondary leak, discovered after the first major leak in the pipeline at the Gannet Alpha platform had been plugged last week. Government officials are now opening an investigation into how the leak occurred and whether the correct procedures were followed. They will also have to decide whether Shell should pay for government expenses incurred in the clean-up operation.

Environmental groups have criticized Shell "for a lack of transparency," as a helicopter flying over the area detected oil slick on the water last Wednesday yet the company did not make a public announcement until two days later. The coastguard is estimating that the leaked oil is covering approximately 6.7 sq km (2.6 sq mi) of the North Sea. There are thought to have been 1,300 barrels released in this oil spill, compared to the 70,000 barrels leaked daily during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Full article: