Project Zoo Quest Aids Flounder & Waterfowl
January 1, 2006 www.prweb.com
Project: Zoo Quest, the nonprofit group founded by award-winning outdoors writer and author, Chester Moore, has a new initative: Conservation Legacy. Moore said, "The first project will be a southern flounder roundup on Sabine Lake Saturday March 25. Hurricane Rita caused a power outage at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson and it wiped out all of the flounder broodstock that were being used to study how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) might possibly begin a stocking program for flounder in the future," he added. "It's one of Project: Zoo Quest's goals and my personal dream to see flounder populations get back to where they were years ago, when it was not a problem to catch a limit. We are totally committed to that." Project: Zoo Quest is also planning a waterfowl conservation project to be announced some time in spring 06. "There are many issues surrounding waterfowl populations and hunting that have become apparent to me after years of research and observation. We feel it is important to take an active role in continuing the important legacy of waterfowl hunting and conservation," Moore said. Anyone wanting to participate in the flounder roundup should send an email to Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Reviving the Extinct Quagga
January 1, 2006 www.nytimes.com By D.T. MAX
Reinhold Rau, a former taxidermist for the natural-history museum in Cape Town, South Africa, is now involved in the Quagga Breeding Project. A native of southern Africa, the quagga went extinct in 1883. Its head, neck and shoulders and sometimes the forward part of its flank were covered with stripes; the back part of its torso, its rump and legs were unstriped. Rau has been working for three decades to breed the quagga back into existence. His approach is to take zebras that look more quagga-like than the norm and mate them with one another, generation after generation, progressively erasing the stripes from the back part of their bodies. How likely is it that deliberate breeding can retrace the path of natural selection by which the quagga split off from the plains zebra more than a hundred thousand years ago? No one knows, but over the years Rau's project has gained some establishment support." In 1981 Oliver Ryder who directs a project at the San Diego Zoo to preserve rare-animal DNA, was looking for blood and skin samples of living zebras, and contacted Rau. Rau said he had something better - muscle and blood vessels preserved from extinct quaggas. (Whoever had first skinned those quaggas had done a sloppy job, leaving small pieces of flesh connected to the hide.) Ryder was thrilled. Over the next few years, researchers successfully extracted portions of DNA from the quagga tissue - an achievement that in 1984 made front-page news throughout the world. (In the book "Jurassic Park," the successful recovery of quagga DNA emboldens entrepreneurial scientists to try cloning dinosaurs). In a related experiment by Ryder, published the following year, comparing the proteins in plains zebras and quaggas and reported that "the quagga probably ought to be considered a variant of the plains zebra and not a distant species." Making Rau's project feasible from a genetic point of view, and Rau's goal is to recreate - or at least closely approximate - the genetic original. Beginning in the late 80's, the Namibian and South African park systems supplied Rau with promising animals so that he could put his ideas into practice. Last January, Henry, Rau's most convincing quagga foal yet, was born on a private preserve outside Cape Town. Rau says that Henry, a third-generation descendant (on his mother's side) of the project's original zebras, is very near to perfection. Still, the central question remains: does that mean you have actually recreated that animal? And Oliver Ryder acknowledges "We won't be able to know how much quagga-ness is in it
Jacksonville Zoo gets $2M sculptures
January 2, 2006 jacksonville.bizjournals.com
A pair of life-size bronze elephant sculptures, by Peter Woytuk, are 7,000
and 10,000 pounds each. They will be delivered to the Jacksonville Zoo and
Gardens Thursday around noon from West Palm Beach. They will be temporarily
placed across from the Zoo's wildlife carousel but will eventually be moved to
the Gardens at Trout River Plaza, which is being designed as part of the Zoo's
botanical master plan. . Woytuk will arrive with the sculptures to supervise
The sculptures were given by Ann and Ted Baker, chairman of Florida Rock Industries.
Rehabilitating Rogue Elephants
January 2, 2006 www.enn.com By Ed Stoddard, Reuters
DINOKENG, South Africa - Tembo, a 6-ton bull elephant went on a rampage when
he was 18 that almost ended his life. An orphan of a cull in South Africa's
Kruger National Park, he was relocated to a private game reserve. He eventually
found himself a female companion but another bull came along and successfully
"wooed" her. Tembo still bears the scars of the fight he had with that
bull in the form of a broken tusk. More disturbingly, he also vented his rage by
killing two rhinos and damaging the lodge at his reserve. But now tourists are
taking rides on Tembo's back in the bush at Dinokeng Game Reserve 60 miles south
of Johannesburg. The transformation came when a vet approached animal trainer
Rory Hensman and asked him if he could mend
Tembo's wild ways. Previously it was thought that you had to start training when an elephant was 12 to 15 months of age according to Din oKeng owner Larry Blundell. But "Tembo has a wonderful nature -- he had lots of contact with people but when he was growing up, no training," his trainer Hensman told Reuters by phone from his base in the country's northern Limpopo province. "We use a bilateral ask and reward system. When he does something you say well done and reward him," he said. Elephants, especially the more malleable Asian variety, have been used by humans for war and work for more than 2,000 years. But humanity's history with the pachyderms has also been marked by ruthless persecution and hunting -- and so a trainer's first job is to win over their instinctive mistrust of humans. Mabitsi, Dinokeng's other trained elephant, was also a "rogue" who was part of a group of four that broke through the fence at the Kruger Park, wreaking havoc on local citrus farms. He was also due to be put down until Hensman's intervention.
New Plant Manager at Balboa Park
January 2, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Jeanette Steele
Paul Sirois, the new Balboa Park horticulturist will have to deal with sick eucalyptus trees and duck droppings clogging the Lily Pond, but the 46-year-old is happy to be the new plant expert for the historic gardens at the city's crown-jewel park. Sirois, previously a city arborist, replaces Kathy Puplava, who had been the city's first and only official horticulturist. Puplava retired in November after 17 years on the job. Sirois oversees all plants and trees on the park's 1,200 acres. That includes the award-winning Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden on Park Boulevard and what the park considers its signature tree, the majestic, 60-foot Moreton Bay fig planted for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
New Elephant Tracking Method
January 2, 2005 www.eurekalert.org
By analyzing chemicals in tail hair from elephants that wore radio collars, researchers tracked the diet and movements of elephants in Kenya - a method aimed at reducing human-elephant conflicts and determining where to establish sanctuaries to protect the endangered creatures. The study involved analysis of "stable isotopes" of carbon and nitrogen in African elephants' tail hair to determine what and where they ate as they also were tracked with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. Stable isotopes previously have been used to track sources of counterfeit currency, illicit drugs, explosives and bacteria like anthrax. Geochemist Thure Cerling, is the principal author of the study published in the Jan. 3-6, 2006, online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the elephants tracked in the study was a bull named Lewis, who ate lowland grasses in a sanctuary during rainy times, then trekked 25 miles to the mountains, where he ate shrubs and trees by day and raided farmers' corn fields at night. He was shot after the study was completed, possibly by a farmer. "One big question is how can we secure a future for elephants when we know that the areas set aside for their protection are too small," says study co-author and zoologist Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder, president and chief executive officer of the Save the Elephants Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tracking Whales by Sounds
January 2, 2005 www.eurekalert.org
Researchers have developed a new tool to help them study endangered whales - autonomous hydrophones that can be deployed in the ocean to record the unique clicks, pulses and calls of different whale species. Using the technology, a team of researchers recently discovered rare right whales swimming in the Gulf of Alaska. "There has been only one confirmed sighting of a right whale in the Gulf of Alaska since 1980, so discovering them is not only surprising, it is fairly significant," said David K. Mellinger, an assistant professor at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. "We picked up the sounds of one whale off Kodiak Island, and several others in deep water, which is also something of a surprise, since most right whale sightings have been near-shore." Results of these and five years of studies have been published in the January 2006 issue of the journal BioScience. Mellinger said scientists have been able to use the hydrophones to distinguish sounds made by different whale species. And some species, he added, have different "dialects" depending on where they are from. Blue whales off the Pacific Northwest sound different than populations of blue whales that live in the western Pacific Ocean, and those sound different from populations of blue whales off Antarctica.
Rebuilding the Audubon Aquarium
January 2, 2006 www.cnn.com
The New Orleans Aquarium suffered major losses in Hurricane Katrina. Generator problems killed up to 10,000 fish. Some residents -- including Satchmo, Voodoo and 17 other penguins are still in California. others, two 5-foot tarpons and Midas, the 300-pound green sea turtle have returned. Lance Ripley, assistant curator of fish says the aquarium has begun restocking and plans to reopen this summer. Hundreds of fish already have been donated by other aquariums. And expeditions are being planned to the Florida Keys, the Caribbean and other spots to collect more. "There are no pet stores that sell 9-foot sharks," says John Hewitt, the aquarium's director of husbandry. "You've got to get them some other way. We're going to try and collect as many animals as we can." But it will be difficult, maybe even impossible, to replace some losses -- such as a 13-foot small-tooth sawfish called Mr. Bill, and a 250-pound goliath grouper, both on the endangered species list, along with nine sandtiger sharks, whose numbers have been dwindling because of commercial fishing. "Some of these collections have taken years to accumulate," Ripley says. "We had five species of freshwater stingray. We had dozens of breeding projects over the last 15 years. We had a jellyfish gallery 10 years in the making. ... All that's gone." And there's no quick way to bring it back. The aquarium faces more than $5 million in repairs, though insurance will likely cover that. But finances alone don't dictate the aquarium's revival, noting the homecoming of Midas, the green sea turtle, was a morale boost more than anything else. "It's important for the spirits of the community," he says. "We have animals who've left and animals who've died. We had to show that our animals are coming back."
Zoo's Swap Tigers
January 2, 2005 www.todaysthv.com
The AZA has recommended that all U.S. zoos that have Siberian tigers living in warmer climates switch them with zoo tigers in cooler climates. Little Rock Zoo curator Debbie Thompson says their pair will move to the Minnesota Zoo and they will receive a pair of Indo-Chinese tigers from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Those tigers should be in Arkansas by the end of spring.
Analyzing the "Cuteness" Factor
January 3, 2005 www.nytimes.com By Natalie Angier
Pandas are "cute". Emporor penguin babies are cute. Sales of petite, cute cars like the Toyota Prius and the Mini Cooper soared in 2005, while those of noncute sport utility vehicles tanked. Even King Kong's newly reissued face has a squashed baby-doll appeal. Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still-expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others. Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire. The human cuteness detector is set so low, researchers said, that it deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, as well as a colon, hyphen and closed parenthesis typed in succession.
Oakland Zoo Commits to Elephants
January 3, 2005 www.contracostatimes.com By Guy Ashley
OAKLAND, California -- At a time when several zoos across the country are eliminating their elephant exhibits, Oakland is making a bold push in the opposite direction. The zoo's commitment to elephant breeding was signaled by the arrival of Osh, a massive bull, last year. After a 54-hour journey from England, in which the young elephant was hauled by truck, ferry and converted cargo jet, Osh has now settled into his new 6 acre exhibit. Greg Gilbert, Oakland zoo's senior elephant keeper and four other elephant keepers provide 11 meals a day to Osh and each of his female cohorts -- Lisa, Donna and M'Dundamella. Greg often coaxes the animals up and down the hillside that just a year ago was fenced off to them. It's all part of a plan to give the elephants the kind of wide-ranging movement their ancestors enjoyed in the wild, and that many zoos do not have the space to offer. Gilbert says his four lumbering charges walk six miles a day on average, traversing the grass and soft dirt of the sloped exhibition area as they seek snacks, shade or companionship. Joel Parrott, the zoo's executive director, explained "The key is keeping the elephants active and involved in the social groups that they're accustomed to in the wild.''
Elephant Musth Pheromone Described
January 3, 2005 www.nytimes.com By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Musth comes once a year in male elephants. This heightened period sexual activity is marked by extremely high testosterone levels, and makes them very aggressive. (The term, first described in Asian elephants, is derived from a Persian word meaning "drunk.") During musth, liquid streams from the animal's temporal glands, between the eye and the ear. It contains a pheromone, frontalin, that serves as a chemical signal to other elephants. Now, research by Bets Rasmussen of the Oregon Health & Science University and colleagues in New Zealand shows that male Asian elephants can control this signal as they age and even during a single musth period. They can actually change the makeup of the pheromone over time. Molecules of frontalin come in two mirror-image forms, called enantiomers. The researchers, who analyzed more than 100 samples of temporal gland secretions, had thought that the liquid would contain only one of the forms. "To our utter surprise we found both," she said. "This had never been seen before in mammalian pheromones." The finding is described in the journal Nature. Researchers also found that the ratio of the two forms changed with age. Young males contained significantly more of one form (designated "plus") than the other ("minus"), but as the animals matured the mix of enantiomers became even. Highly "plus" frontalin had little effect on other elephants, but a one-to-one blend repulsed males of all ages and attracted ovulating females. So the makeup enables other elephants to gauge how mature the frontalin-producing elephant is.
Q&A With Reid Park Zoo General Curator
January 3, 2005 www.tucsoncitizen.com By Jenny Hunsperger
With the help of several new exhibits in 2005, Tucson's Reid Park Zoo had a 14 percent increase in attendance. General Curator Scott Barton, said that moving the rhinos to a new exhibit with grass and trees and a big mud wallow and a large night house was a big success. We have some gazelles that will be going in there shortly, he said. . We also got a new polar bear (Kobe) and our pair of polar bears are doing really, really well together. Another great thing was that the mayor and council voted to let us keep our elephants. In 2006 our first project will be a new giraffe-feeding platform. People will come and there will be a zoo staff member there and you'll be able to give the (three) giraffes a few biscuits. Another project we're starting is the water play area for kids. The zoo serves all of the community but especially families. We hope to have it (the play area) finished by summer. We also hope to break ground and begin construction on a new, education center. We have so many great programs, and we're really only limited by the amount of space we have. A new building will be great.
Denver Zoo is Saving Argali Sheep
January 3, 2006 www.denverpost.com By Katy Human
A Denver Zoo biologist, Rich Reading, has been working to save the Argali sheep found in Uzbekistan, of which only about 500 are left. Last year, Uzbek poachers shot and killed ranger Akhmetov Omar, with whom Reading was working in the Nuratau Mountains nature preserve. Reading, nevertheless, plans to head back to the former Soviet republic this spring to continue trying to make the preserve safe. The land has been preserved since the days of the Soviet Union, said Nick Remple, formerly a regional technical adviser for the United Nations in Asia. People were once excluded entirely from the Nuratau and other nature preserves, he said. "Now, the enforcement structure has collapsed in some places ... and people are desperate to use resources." Today, Remple helps oversee conservation grants, including the $84,000 grant that will support Reading and his colleagues for three years. With the United Nations funding, Reading and several German colleagues hope to improve the training of rangers in the Nuratau. The men need better instruction, for example, on how to monitor animal populations, he said. Rangers have estimated the Argali population at nearly 3,000, using a sampling technique that probably dramatically overcounts the animals, he said.
Mike Janis Director of Binghamton Zoo
January 4, 2006 www.pressconnects.com By George Basler
BINGHAMTON - Mike Janis is the new executive director of the 130-year-old Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. A proven director with 26 years in the zoo field, Janis comes to the struggling Ross Park facility after 10 1/2 years as director of the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minn. Over the next few years, Janis sees the Binghamton zoo tearing down some of its exhibits and replacing them with new facilities. For example, the snow leopard and bear cat exhibits could be replaced by new exhibits for the same animals. Janis also hopes to expand the number of birds and mammals at the zoo from approximately 175 to 300, which is "reasonable for a zoo this size." Another goal is to create a new entranceway, complete with a gift shop, although this won't happen in the next year, he said. "The entranceway now is rather depressing and not a welcoming situation," he said. One of Janis' priorities this winter is to begin working on a master plan for the facility that will focus on the kind of animals and type of exhibits that will be at the zoo. Development of the master plan, which he expects to take six to eight months, is one key to regaining national accreditation from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which the Binghamton zoo lost in March, Janis said.
Great Plains Zoo Gets City Subsidy
January 4, 2006 www.argusleader.com By JONATHAN ELLIS
Sioux Falls City Council has agreed to subsidize the Great Plains Zoo's 2006 budget with $1.3 million, which represents a more than $500,000 increase in what the city gave last year. It's also the largest increase in history. In addition, the city plans to spend close to $1.9 million on improvement projects at the zoo, many of which will be started next year. The zoo's budget includes significant pay raises for employees and funding for an additional five employees. Three of those new employees will care for animals, another will be in education and the fifth will act as a development director, something the zoo hasn't had. The facility employs about 50 people in the summer, the zoo's peak operational period. Elizabeth Whealy, who was recently named president and CEO of the zoo, said an industry analysis showed that zoo employees were underpaid. She called the budget "conservative" and "fair" to the facility's employees.
Dusit Zoo Becomes Bangkok's Night Safari
January 4, 2006 etna.mcot.net
BANGKOK - Dusit Zoo will soon become Bangkok's night safari, thanks to an initiative of the Zoological Park Organization Under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King to extend the zoo's opening hours until evening. Certain areas of the zoo are being modified and there will be a special tram services to serve the public for their animal tours at night. Night safari will open in February.
Brookfield's Polar Bears Move to Tennesee
January 4, 2006 www.suntimes.com BY STEVE METSCH
Payton, 2, and Haley, 3, are flying FedEx to the Memphis Zoo as part of a breeding program, The two polar bears will live in "Northwest Passage," a $23 million, 3-acre exhibit with a 130,000 gallon pool where people can watch the polar bears swim underwater. The new exhibit will open March 3 for the Memphis Zoo's 100th anniversary celebration and will include two black bears, two bald eagles, three harbor seals courtesy Sea World, and six sea lions. One sea lion, Andre, is a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from the Marinelife Oceanarium in Gulfport, Miss. Mike Brown, lead keeper for the Brookfield Zoo's mammal department, will make the trip to Memphis with the bears. The departure gives Brookfield a chance to reunite Arki and Aussie, the mother and father of Payton, in the hope that they will again breed, Brown said. Today's transfer was arranged by the Species Survival Plan of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, a breeding and conservation program for endangered and threatened species.
Night Safari for Saigon Zoo
January 4, 2006 www.thanhniennews.com
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ho Chi Minh City has announced it will open a night safari as part of a plan to lure more visitors to Vietnam's oldest wildlife facility. The management plans to import and breed rare animals like panthers, tigers, and pheasants besides nocturnal and African animals this year. Two large bird cages, a butterfly garden, an orchid garden, and a penguin pool will be built. On Tet, the Lunar New Year, which falls this year on Jan. 29, the zoo will reopen a circus with bird shows, which had been closed after bird flu broke out in 2004. The zoo hoped to welcome one million visitors in 2006, up 15 percent from last year, the HCMC Department of Communications and Public Works said Wednesday.
White Rhinos at Brevard Zoo
January 4, 2006 www.floridatoday.com
A special mating match-up has been arranged by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, as part of its species Survival Plan. A female rhino, Uzuri, arrived at the Brevard Zoo in Florida from the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Dec. 22. She will be joined this week by 3,000-pound Kibibi, another female. These girls, 4 and 5, spent time together previously in San Diego. They will be introduced to 4,400-pound Howard, an 8-year-old male, who lives at the zoo, with his buddy, Max, a 5-year-old male, after a 30-day quarantine period. Although Max will not join the group, his presence will increase Howard's interest in fatherhood "You need more than one male to get breeding success in captivity," zoo executive director Keith Winsten said. Max and Howard spend nights in a barn within earshot of each other. The courting, apparently, has begun. "They vocalize when the boys are in at night," Drake said.
San Diego Wild Animal Park Makeover
January 4, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Deborah Ensor
SAN PASQUAL VALLEY - In busy, congested Southern California, giraffes and rhinos wandering in great open spaces really do create a version of Africa. But animals in a natural habitat may not be enough to keep the San Diego Wild Animal Park competitive in the leisure-time market. "The world is just changing so fast," said Ted Molter, director of marketing for the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. The animal park wants to keep up, he said. "We have to think about how to remain authentic but still relevant." There have to be cool ways to get kids engaged with exhibits, Molter said, and new experiences to keep visitors coming back. So as the animal park looks to the future, officials are looking to create a master plan that works for its members, its visitors and the more than 3,500 animals that call the park home. So far, those plans include rebuilding the aging monorail system and hiring a creative design company to come up with new concepts and experiences. This month, the park hired Falcon's Treehouse, which specializes in designing attractions for theme parks. The Florida company has done work for Walt Disney, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens.
U.N. Blocks Caviar Exports
January 04, 2006 www.enn.com By Richard Waddington, Reuters
GENEVA - The United Nations has effectively blocked caviar exports until producer countries around the Caspian and Black Seas gave better information on stock levels and illegal sales of the highly prized delicacy. The U.N.'s specialist agency in endangered species withheld export quotas for countries such as Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan, which last year were able to ship 105 tonnes of caviar and other sturgeon products to the international market. The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said it was worried that quota requests for this year -- which it did not detail -- might be too high in view of falling fish reserves. "Countries wishing to export sturgeon products ... must demonstrate that their proposed catch and export quotas reflect current population trends," said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers. "To do this they must also make full allowance for the amount of fish caught illegally," he added in a statement. Environmentalists estimate that Caspian Sea stocks of sturgeon, whose eggs make caviar, have plunged some 90 percent since the late 1970s due to overfishing -- legal and illegal. They welcomed CITES' move, the latest in a series of steps to regulate caviar trade from the big producing areas, including the Heilongjiang/Amur River on the Sino-Russian border.
Nbamba Island Chimp Sanctuary
January 4, 2006 allafrica.com By David Kaiza
UGANDA -- The public may now visit the chimpanzees of Ngamba Island. Ngamba executive director Lillian Ajarova, said there are currently three types of visits - half-day, full day and overnight trips. She said the island is considering offering extended visits of perhaps a week. The Island, which is 23 kilometres from Entebbe, was set up in 1998 as a sanctuary for chimpanzees confiscated from smugglers. Trade in the animals had intensified because of the war in Eastern Congo. It is estimated that there were 50,000 chimpanzees in Uganda 100 years ago. The competition for space with humans, however, has reduced their numbers by 90 per cent. It is estimated that there are only 4,950 of them left today. The number of chimpanzees killed for bush meat each year in Africa stands at 5,000. Others are captured for sale mostly using traps that can leave them crippled. Those that survive are sold worldwide as pets. The sanctuary covers only 100 hectares, and because of this, the animals are not allowed to reproduce - a rule Katie broke when she pulled out her contraceptive implant and ended up pregnant with Kyewuunyo, in 2002. At three years, Kyewuunyo, whose name means surprise, is the youngest chimp in the sanctuary.
Shark Fin Soup Source May Vanish
January 5, 2005 www.nytimes.com By JUAN FORERO
MANTA, Ecuador - A set of fins - dorsal and pectorals - can fetch $100 or more in China. They are exported in a quasi-legal network to Hong Kong, Beijing, Taiwan, Singapore and other corners of Asian affluence. There, a heaping bowl of shark fin soup, said to offer medicinal or aphrodisiac qualities, is dished up for up to $200. This taste for fins, marine biologists say, is ridding the world's oceans of one of its most ancient creatures, threatening ecosystems already buffeted by overfishing. Some sharks, like the hammerhead and the great white, have been reduced by upwards of 70 percent in the last 15 years, while others, like the silky white tip, have disappeared from the Caribbean. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization conservatively estimates that 856,000 tons of shark and their cousins, rays and skates, were caught in 2003. That is triple the quantity 50 years before, as shark fin soup has caught on as an Asian status symbol. Fins sell for as much as $700 per kilogram in Asia, making big sharks worth thousands of dollars. In the vast dried seafood market of Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island on a recent day, shark fin stores had no shortage of buyers.
Record counts of threatened ibis
January 5, 2006 www.birdlife.org
In November 2005, BirdLife International Cambodia project staff recorded up to 70 White-shouldered Ibis at wetlands in Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area (IBA). This extraordinary November count represents a significant increase in the numbers of White-shouldered Ibis recorded. Previously the highest counts were 23 in January 2003 and 33 in November 2004. These new counts are highly significant as upper estimates of this Critically Endangered species' population are of just 250 mature individuals. 40 individuals were still present in December 2005. The global population of the White-shouldered Ibis is thought to number no more than 250 mature individuals
Record spoonbill count in Taiwan
January 5, 2006 www.birdlife.org
The total population of the Black-faced Spoonbill in the Tainan area of Taiwan has reached a historical high, with a record count of 939 birds on 21 November 2005. In the winter of 1989-1990, the known global population of Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor was just 294 birds. The species recovered slowly during the 1990s, before suffering a setback at the end of 2002 with an outbreak of botulism that killed 73 birds. Subsequently however, numbers of the species have shown an excellent increase.The species was classified by BirdLife for the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered from 1994 until 2000, when it was donwlisted to Endangered.
Five Fish Species Endangered
January 5, 2006 www.nytimes.com
Jennifer Devine and a team of researchers, from Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, found a decline of 89 to 98 percent in just a 17-year span starting in 1978 in the populations of five fish species - roundnose grenadier, onion-eye grenadier, blue hake, spiny eel and spinytail skate. The five are found in depths of 1,200 feet to more than a mile. As coastal species have been fished out, trawlers worldwide have been moving into deeper waters. But species in chilly depths typically grow slowly, take as many years as humans to reach sexual maturity and produce fewer offspring than do fish from shallower areas, leaving them vulnerable to industrial-scale fishing.
San Diego Zoo, AKA 'Noah's Ark'
January 5, 2006 www.thevillagenews.com By Elizabeth Zablatnik Rolls
Allow yourself to visit the San Diego Zoo, AKA 'Noah's Genetic Ark,' in a stress-free, relaxed manner by doing a few simple things: get to the zoo at ten to nine wearing a big grin because you beat the crowds, board the double-decker bus (sit on top in the front and gain your bearings) and spring onto the spectacular "old-fashioned" sky ride and view the zoo from Heaven. So now having seen the entire zoo, take a load off, compadres, and pick out a few choice exhibits. Meditate on each animal species, thinking about how most of them are on the endangered species list because of, you already know, loss of habitat, bush hunting and human encroachment. We are at the top of the food chain and the rest of the animal population is fading fast.
Slit-shaped pupils in geckos and cats
January 5, 2006 Nature Vol 439 p4
Ronald Kroger and his student Tim Malmstrom of Lund University in Sweden examined the eyes of 20 vertebrates with an infared camera. They found slit pupils only in animals with multifocal lenses. These focus light of different wavelengths through different concentric zones, producing a sharper image than a lens with a single focal point at the center, such as those of humans. In a multifocal lens, a circular pupil would contract to obscure entire concentric regions needed to focus some wavelengths, whereas with a slit-shaped pupil, light always passes through a portion of each concentric ring. The report appears in the Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 18-25, 2005.
Brookfield Zoo Staff Lacks Diversity
January 6, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By Mickey Ciokajlo
Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden are being criticized for not hiring more minorities. Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago) said "A quarter of their budget is paid for by the taxpayers of the county, so therefore we have the right to demand from them ... [a] fair chance to Hispanics and African-Americans to work in those institutions." According to an annual employment diversity report, only 2 percent of the full-time employees at the Brookfield Zoo are African-American and 6 percent are Hispanic, according to figures released by the Cook County Forest Preserve District. At the botanic garden, 3 percent of full-time workers are African-American and 12 percent are Hispanic. When seasonal employment is factored in, 10 percent of the zoo's nearly 1,000 workers are African-Americans and 13 percent are Hispanic. At the garden, 4 percent are black and 20 percent Hispanic when seasonal workers are included, according to the report. The facilities are managed by separate, independent not-for-profit organizations, but they are owned by, and receive funding from, the Forest Preserve District.
Lincoln Park Zoo Bird Flu Conference
January 6, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By William Mullen
About 30 public health scientists, federal officials and zoo administrators will meet at Lincoln Park Zoo for a four day session next week to finalize a plan to use the natiion's 210 zoos as early warning sentinels for the avian flu strain known as H5N1. Though H5N1 has not yet turned up in the U.S., the strain has infected millions of birds in Asia, and is beginning to show up in birds in Europe and could infect animals throughout the world. While H5N1 cannot be passed from human to human, the fear is that it eventually will mutate into a form that will become highly contagious among humans, creating a lethal worldwide pandemic capable of killing tens of millions of people. "Our own zoo epidemiologist, Dominic Travis, spearheaded this gathering of national experts next week," said zoo spokeswoman Kelly McGrath. Six years ago, Travis was instrumental in integrating the nation's zoos into a similar surveillance project to track the spread of West Nile virus, a disease then just starting to invade American shores from Europe through wild bird populations, McGrath said.
Sacramento Loses Endangered Mangabey
January 6, 2006 cbs13.com
SACRAMENTO -- An endangered primate has died unexpectedly at the Sacramento Zoo. Officials at the zoo say Jimmy, a 13-year-old golden-bellied mangabey died on December 29th. Keepers apparently found the primate collapsed in his cage in the late afternoon. The zoo's veterinarian tried to revive Jimmy, but was unable to. They say Jimmy had been behaving and eating normally earlier in the day. "He was born here and has such a wonderful personality," zookeeper supervisor Leslie Field said in a press release from the zoo. According to the zoo, golden-bellied mangabeys are considered endangered. There are only 19 golden-bellied mangabeys in North American zoos. Little is known from the wild about these primates. They believe the primates only live naturally in a small area in Democratic Republic of Congo. Donations in Jimmy's memory may be sent to the Sacramento Zoo. The zoo says it will use the money toward the building of the Zoo's veterinary hospital.
Seattle Looks at Zoo Garage Plans
January 6, 2006 seattlepi.nwsource.com By KATHY MULADY
The Seattle Design Commission provides design advice on projects built with city money or on city property and has now listed the requirements that it wants zoo officials to follow for their planned 700-space garage. A key element is making the four-level garage, which is roughly the size of a football field on each level, blend into the landscape. City officials decided that the original plan for a partially below-ground garage on the south side of the zoo was too expensive, and the above ground plan was approved. "No one is saying that we like the idea of a garage, but if it is necessary, then we need to do the best that we can," David Spiker, chairman of the design commission, said after the meeting. The garage is at the heart of neighborhood concerns that the zoo is building too many structures in the park. A children's play and educational center, called Zoomazium, is scheduled to open in May, and the $16.2 million parking garage could be finished in 2008. A 9,000- square-foot events center also is part of the long-range development plan, along with an office building. KPFF Consulting Engineers and Hewitt Architects were hired to design the garage.
Atlanta Zoo's 3 Elephants Are Going to NC
January 6, 2006 www.ajc.com By TOM SABULIS
Zoo Atlanta's three female elephants, each weighing more than 8,000 pounds, are leaving the facility to join the North Carolina Zoo's breeding program in Asheboro. They are not expected to return. Instead, they will be replaced with two older female elephants from Disney's Animal Kingdom. Zoo Atlanta's animals - Starlet, Victoria and Zambezi - are in their early 20s, considered prime breeding age for elephants. But since Zoo Atlanta has neither male elephants nor adequate space to breed the animals and raise the calves, they must go elsewhere. The three have been together at the Grant Park facility for about 20 years. They are expected to remain together in North Carolina. They are not expected to leave before next winter, and the Disney elephants - Robin, 34, and Petunia, 32 - should arrive in early 2007.
No More Chimps at Zoo Nebraska
January 6, 2006 www.kansascity.com By EMILY FREDRIX
OMAHA, Neb. - Zoo Nebraska will no longer house chimpanzees after the escape and subsequent killing of three of the primates from the small-town zoo during the fall, the zoo director said. Ken Schlueter Jr. said the board of directors at the zoo in Royal decided in recent weeks not to bring back the final surviving chimp, currently being housed in Missouri. "Even though our facility has the same standards as everybody else, it's just very difficult to take care of them," Schlueter said of the chimpanzees. Schlueter said Thursday from his home in the northeastern Nebraska village of 75, that the zoo wouldn't be able to afford another chimpanzee and it would be unfair to have Ripley, 17, living without another chimp. He said safety was also a concern following the incident in mid-September when three chimps, a staple at the zoo, escaped from a cage when a padlock was not completely closed after cleaning. Schlueter killed the animals with a deputy's service revolver after a tranquilizer gun didn't show any effect. The fourth chimpanzee also escaped, but quickly returned to its cage. No one was hurt.
Nashville Zoo's Expansion Plans
January 6, 2006 www.theleafchronicle.com By Stacy Smith Segovia
The Nashville zoo has now expanded into a 60-acre walking park, but its only a fraction of what it will be in 12 years when the 15-year master plan is complete. 200 acres were donated to Nashville by sisters Margaret and Elise Croft after their deaths, and one of the key projects already completed is the renovation of their farmhouse, built in 1810. "Our idea is that in the future, this will represent how farm life was way back in the 1800s versus how farm life is now," said Jim Bartoo, public relations specialist. "The farm family is virtually nonexistent." Other key projects already in place include: 1. # The Jungle Gym, the largest community-built playground of its kind in the country. 2. The Unseen New World, an exhibit of rare, threatened and endangered reptiles and amphibians. 3. Critter Encounters, which allows visitors to hang out with goats, alpaca and sheep. 4. Gibbon Islands, the home to white-handed gibbons and siamang. 5. Hyacinth Macaw Exhibit, lush with plants, waterfalls and pools that are a perfect backdrop for these beautiful blue birds. 6. Bamboo Trail, featuring animals that live in bamboo habitats from all over the world. 7. African Elephant Savannah, which is an Africa-inspired three-acre romping grounds for Hadari, Sukari and Kiba. 8. Lorikeet Landing, in which zoo visitors become the perches for these rainbow-colored birds. 9. The Wild Animal Carousel, which lets guests ride one of 39 hand-painted, wood-carved animals.
Parvo Virus May be Killing Wolf Cubs
January 6, 2005 www.enn.com By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. - Most of the gray wolf pups born in Yellowstone National Park last year have died, a federal wolf expert says, and he believes a dog disease -- parvo virus -- may be behind the dramatic loss. Just 22 of the 69 pups born last year are still alive, said Doug Smith, the park's wolf project leader. That's the biggest drop in pup numbers since wolves were reintroduced to the park 11 years ago, with the greatest toll seen on the park's northern range. There, he said just eight of the 49 pups born last spring survived. "It's cause for concern, a great deal of concern," he said. Over the next few weeks officials plan to catch Yellowstone wolf pups and take blood samples to see if the suspicions about parvo virus are true. The disease can cause extreme diarrhea and dehydration and kill more vulnerable animals, like young pups. Though vaccination is an option -- many domestic dogs are vaccinated to protect them against parvo -- Smith said it would be largely futile in the park. "It requires two vaccinations to build up an immunity, and we'd have to catch every wolf," he said. "And both those things are impractical."
Florida Manatee Deaths Up 30%
January 06, 2006 www.enn.com By Kelli Kennedy, AP
ORANGE CITY, Fla. - 2005 has been a hard one for the state's endangered manatee population. Despite educational programs and campaigns targeting boaters, the number of confirmed manatee deaths in Florida jumped 30 percent during the first 11 months of 2005, according to state officials. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission estimated 366 manatees died through Dec. 9, 2005 compared to 276 deaths in 2004. The agency was expected to release final figures for 2005 next week. Some experts attribute the spike to the toxic effects of red tide, an aquatic phenomenon caused by an unpredictable algae bloom that can sicken and kill sea life when it is ingested. This year was an unusually active year for red tide in the Gulf. It was most the active year since 1996, when a red tide bloom brought the statewide death toll to more than 400.
India Begins Tiger Count
January 06, 2006 www.enn.com By Krittivas Mukherjee, Reuters
MUMBAI -- Alarmed by reports of large-scale poaching in India's famed tiger sanctuaries, about 250 officials, armed with radio collars and high-tech cameras used speedboats or walked through muddy creeks and marshland looking for footprints, or pugmarks, in West Bengal's Sunderbans, the world's largest natural tiger habitat. "This census is the world's biggest and the most scientific to date," Pradeep Vyas, the census chief, told Reuters from the Sunderbans, a 10,000 sq km (3,900 sq mile) sparsely populated mangrove marshland on the eastern coast. Conservationists, who have been highly critical of India's efforts to protect the tiger, have also expressed reservations over the accuracy of the pugmark system, saying the method has in the past masked the big cats' dwindling numbers in the country's national parks. For the first time, the latest tiger census will use specially designed computer programmes, camera traps and radio-collars tracked by satellite to avoid any duplication in recording pugmarks. The last census in 2003 estimated there were between 260 and 280 tigers in the Indian part of the Sunderbans, home also to hundreds of saltwater crocodiles and rare river dolphins.
Czech TV Program Features Gorillas
January 6, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk By Michael Voss
Czech state television has come up with an interesting "Reality TV Show". The contestants are gorillas and the show takes place in the gorilla enclosure at Prague Zoo, where there are 16 cameras discreetly placed throughout the living and sleeping quarters, as well as in the garden. Among the contestants are Richard, the only male of the group, weighing in at around 175 kg. He is joined by three females, one of them the mother of his child, one-year-old Moja who weighs a mere 8 kg and is just learning to walk. Their every move is covered from a mobile studio, housed in a container outside the enclosure, where producers track and edit the action around the clock. Highlights are shown twice every morning on the breakfast TV show, with further action available on cable. There is also live screening available online. Viewers text in votes for their favorite animal - but the winner does not get to return to the jungle.
Dian Fossey's Grave Becomes a Mecca
January 6, 2006 www.sundaytribune.co.za By Helen Vesperini
United States primatologist Dian Fossey, is credited with most likely saving the mountain gorillas of Rwanda from extinction. It has been twenty years after her murder, yet her life and work - depicted in the 1988 movie Gorillas in the Mist - and the still mysterious circumstances of her death, evoke deeply conflicted emotions in this corner of central Africa that is struggling to shake off the horror of genocide. A longtime foe of "gorilla tourism" on which impoverished Rwanda now depends, Fossey would likely have been appalled that her gravesite has become a mecca for primate enthusiasts. Rosette Rugamba, the head of Rwanda's Tourism and National Parks Office, reports that between 20 to 50 tourists, accompanied by guides and Kalashnikov-toting soldiers, have made the 3,000m climb to the Karisoke site each month since October. It is here, on a saddle between the Karisimbi and Visoke volcanoes, that Fossey lived, studied her beloved gorillas and was hacked to death with multiple machete blows to the head the day after Christmas in 1985, just weeks before her 54th birthday.
DNA Used to Map Cat Evolution
January 6, 2005 www.nytimes.com By NICHOLAS WADE
Eleven million years ago the cat family first appeared in Asia. About nine million years ago - these successful predators invaded North America by crossing the Beringian land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska. A team of geneticists describes how the evolution of cats progressed - how they migrated to new continents and developed new species as sea levels rose and fell in the journal Science. Later, several American cat lineages returned to Asia and with each migration, evolutionary forces morphed them into a myriad of species, from ocelots and lynxes to leopards, lions and the domestic house cat. This new history of the family, known as Felidae, is based on DNA analyses of the 37 living species performed by Warren E. Johnson and Stephen J. O'Brien of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues elsewhere. Chris Wozencraft, an authority on the classification of carnivorous mammals, said the new cat family tree generally agreed with one that he had just published in Mammal Species of the World, a standard reference. Dr. Wozencraft, a taxonomist at Bethel College in Indiana, based his classification on fossil and zoological information, as well as on DNA data already published by Dr. O'Brien's laboratory. Cat fossils are very hard to tell apart, because they differ mostly just in size, and the DNA data emerging over the last decade has helped bring the field from confusion to consensus.
Shedd Aquarium's Invasive Species Exhibit
January 6, 2005 www.nytimes.com
CHICAGO (AP) -- The huge Asian carp are real, the gape-mouthed round gobies are real, but organizers of a new exhibit that opened this week at the Shedd Aquarium decided not to mess with real zebra mussels -- they're just replicas. The exhibit concerns threats to the Great Lakes from invasive species -- plants or animals that arrive in spots where they didn't originate. They then multiply, spread and harm the balance of their new environment by eating or competing with native species. An example is zebra mussels, already notorious pests in the Great Lakes. They are voracious eaters, multiply quickly and are so stubborn once entrenched that the Shedd staff worried they could end up clogging the aquarium's pipes -- hence, the models that climb the side of one of the exhibit's aquariums. Scientists believe at least 170 aquatic invasive species currently live in the Great Lakes basin, according to the exhibit, and a new species is introduced on average once every eight months.
Conservationists Sue Over Sand Butterfly
January 6, 2006 www.nytimes.com
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Conservationists sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday seeking protection for a rare butterfly they say is threatened by off-road vehicles at one of the largest sand dunes in the West. Environmentalists want the agency to declare the Sand Mountain blue butterfly an endangered species because, they say, its habitat is being destroyed at the only place it is known to live -- the Sand Mountain Recreation Area in western Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management controls activities at the dune, which is 600 feet tall and stretches for two miles. It attracts an estimated 50,000 off-roaders annually on motorcycles, dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., accuses the agency of violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to respond to petitions since April 2004 seeking federal protection for the butterfly. The act requires the government to provide a preliminary response to such petitions within 90 days and often again within a year. Plaintiffs accuse the Bureau of Land Management of pandering to off-roaders.
Woodland Park Zoo's Garage Plans
January 8, 2006 seattletimes.nwsource.com
Saturday, at the first of two public workshops on Woodland Park Zoo's controversial garage project, about 40 people floated ideas in small discussion groups about how to make the $16.2 million, 4-story garage fit suitably into its planned. The site is as large as a football field and the garage is slated to hold 700 parking stalls when it opens in 2008. Given the building's size and prominent location in a mostly residential hilltop neighborhood, several people told zoo staff and the garage design team they'd like to see creative landscaping that would obscure the building but possibly enhance the zoo's educational, parklike setting. The Seattle Design Commission has offered similar guidelines. Some suggested incorporating zoo administrative offices or even retail space into the design. Others came to voice concerns about the zoo's ambitious growth plans and its ability to minimize added street congestion brought on by the availability of more on-site parking - the garage would practically double the number of stalls. Woodland Park Zoo's garage proposal and long-range development plans are online at www.zoo.org. Interested individuals can sign up for the next garage-design workshop (9 a.m. Feb. 25): Contact Maris Sovold at 206-615-0395 or email@example.com
Zimbabwe Govt Takes Over Wildlife Farms
January 8, 2006 allafrica.com
ZIMBABWE - The government is going ahead with its controversial Wildlife Based Land Reform Policy despite pleas of a review from disgruntled operators. Operators last week said they were negotiating for a review of the policy, "We are engaging the National Parks (and Wildlife Authority)," said Clive Stockhill of Save Conservancy. Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said on Friday that the policy was ready for implementation with the State waiting to identify "suitable" beneficiaries. "Animals belong to the State. The policy has been approved and we are now waiting to identify 'suitable' people with ability to run conservancies," sand Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema. He said the policy design was scientific and beneficiaries were expected to pay white operators for the use of their infrastructure. Industry officials however told Standard Business that white operators were edgy about Government's intentions to indigenise the sector given its track record of land seizures. Government's land reform programme was characterised by violent farm invasions and a chaotic distribution exercise, which saw land being given to a few elite.
Lion Country Safari Becomes Safer
January 8, 2005 www.nytimes.com By ABBY GOODNOUGH
LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. - Lion Country Safari, in western Palm Beach County opened in 1967 by a group of South African businessmen and used to have 150 lions and a few other animals. It has long been a drive-through wildlife preserve, but since November, their 14 African lions have been behind a tall chain-link fence to keep rule-breaking visitors safe. Too many were opening their car windows and occasionally even doors, making the threat of lawsuits too great for the small attraction. Director Terry Wolf said the new layout gives the lions, who sleep up to 20 hours a day, 3 times as much space and diminishes their stress level because they no longer have to be herded with trucks when they roam too close to the entrance gate. "We live in a litigious state." He said. A similar park in Canada, African Lion Safari, was ordered to pay $2.5 million last year after a tiger attacked two guests through their open car window. The park now has 89 species of birds, reptiles and mammals, including elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes and white rhinoceroses, as well as greater kudus and aoudads. The elephants and chimpanzees are considered the biggest liabilities, and are separated from visitors by steep moats. The park does not bother with tigers, which Mr. Wolf said are "sneakier" than lions. It gets its animals from zoos around the world, he said, and is the oldest attraction of its kind in the country.
Transfrontier Game Reserve Uproots Families
January 9, 2006 news.yahoo.com
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean authoritites will relocate 700 families from villages in the southern districts of Chiredzi to make way for a transfrontier game reserve. "The 700 families will be relocated if all goes well at the end of this month," national parks spokesman Edward Mbewe said. He said the villages fell under the proposed Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park on Zimbabwe's borders with Mozambique and South Africa. "We had hoped to relocate them last month but we could not because of other logistical constraints," Mbewe said Monday. "The families ... are residing in a corridor where we would want the animals to freely move."
WHO Investigates Turkish Bird Flu
January 9, 2006 www.nytimes.com By REUTERS
DOGUBAYAZIT, Turkey (Reuters) - There are no signs that the bird flu virus spreading in Turkey is being passed among humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has confirmed four human bird flu cases in Turkey, including the deaths of two siblings last week from Dogubayazit in the poor eastern part of the country. "At the moment there is no element in this village indicating human-to-human transmission. Health Minister Recep Akdag said 14 people had so far tested positive for the virus, including the three dead children. "The more humans are infected, the more chance the virus has to adapt itself to humans, that's why we need to minimize the human cases, and the best way to do that is to control the disease in animals,'' said Guenael Rodier, head of the WHO's mission to Turkey and a specialist on communicable diseases. He said villagers and children had been infected after close contact with chickens carrying the deadly virus, similar to how the H5N1 virus has jumped from birds to humans in Asia since late 2003.
Socorro Dove Breeding Program
January 9, 2006 news.scotsman.com
The Socorro dove is native to an island off the west coast of Mexico but has been extinct there for more than 30 years (The last sighting was1972). Approximately one hundred of these birds are left living in captivity, mainly in America and Germany. As part of the European breeding program, five of the doves were brought to Edinburgh zoo from the Paignton and Frankfurt Zoos. One more bird will be coming from Frankfurt to complete three adult pairs. After a successful breeding program, one pair of adult doves hatched two chicks in December and they are now on display. All of the birds are scheduled to be released back into their natural habitat in late June.
Copenhagen Zoo Receives Devil Permits
January 9, 2006 www.themercury.news.com.au By ROHAN WADE
The Tasmanian Government announced in October it would gift a breeding pair of Tasmanian devils to Denmark's Copenhagen zoo to mark the birth of Crown Prince Frederik and Hobart-born Crown Princess Mary's first child. Copenhagen Zoo's Science and Conservation director Bengt Holst said the zoo had received the necessary veterinary import permit allowing the devils to enter the country, and most of the paperwork is complete. The zoo is now in contact with Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria. The transfer of the devils should take place once their new enclosure is finished, sometime in April.
Baby Giant Anteater at Singapore Zoo
January 9, 2006 www.news24.com
Singapore - Singapore has bred a giant anteater baby, the first born in captivity in South Asia. The baby was born on November 18 and has been riding on its mother's back with the help of its small claws, venturing down only to suckle, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said. Its nose is only a few centimetres long at this stage, but will get much longer. The Zoo has focused on breeding rare, endangered animals such as a giant flying squirrel, a Malayan flying fox, a spotted hyena and a greater mousedeer. Chris Furley, director of zoology and veterinary services at Night Safari and the adjacent Singapore Zoo, attributed the birth to good husbandry techniques and said it was significant because the creature "represents vital genetic stock".
Indianapolis Zoo Seeks Teen Volunteers
January 9, 2006 www.indystar.com
The Indianapolis Zoo needs teens with a love of animals and a few hours to spare to volunteer their time this summer. Volunteers are needed to fill 135 positions during summer break, through mid-August. The positions are unpaid, but most require just one eight-hour shift weekly. Applicants must be between 14 and 18 years old. Jobs include: zoo camp assistant, teaching younger kids about animals; "butterfly interpreter," explaining butterflies to visitors; and "Zoo Teen Naturalist," explaining artifacts such as bones, pelts, teeth and feathers to patrons. Applications are available from high school guidance counselors or the zoo's Web site, www.indianapoliszoo.com The deadline is Feb. 28.
Pittsburgh Zoo's Big New Elephant Venture
January 9, 2006 kdka.com By Jennifer Antkowiak
At least 20 elephants will be moving in to a 724 acre Somerset County ranch in about 2 years.The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium hopes to capitalize on their own world renowned success with the care and breeding of African elephants and set up an international conservation center. "It's already fenced," said Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo. "It has very well-done facilities on the property already, already has paddocks with frost-free waters and areas for the animals." The land comes at a cost of $2.2 million and the zoo has partnered with a leading environmental, non-profit group called the conservation fund to help take care of the expense. The zoo will have to build a care and breeding facility. Right now, plans call for a one-acre structure that would provide indoor stalls and a large elephant exercise area. Although the focus will be on African elephants in the first phase of this project, Dr. Baker says she's looking forward to working with other animals as well including cheetahs, Siberian tigers and black rhinos. The conservation center would not be open to the public on a daily basis, but it would be open for people to schedule guided tours and even summer camps.
AZA Applauds Pittsburgh's Elephant Plans
January 9, 2006 releases.usnewswire.com
SILVER SPRING, Md. -- AZA commends Dr. Barbara Baker and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Board of Directors and Zoo staff for their announcement of their 724-acre International Conservation Center (ICC), to be located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The 78 directors of elephant-holding zoos met for two days in Orlando in January 2005 to discuss plans for enhancing long-range plans for elephant conservation. Plan elements included expanding efforts in four areas -- scientific research, daily husbandry and care, facilities expansion and field conservation. "The ICC is a perfect extension of this expanded vision," said Beth Stevens, Ph.D., president of the AZA Board of Directors. "While several accredited zoos have off-site conservation facilities that focus on a wide variety of endangered species, the Pittsburgh Zoo will be the first member to have such a facility dedicated to elephants. In its "Future Vision for Elephant Programs," the AZA Elephant Taxon Advisory Group/Species Survival Plan (TAG/SSP) Steering Committee noted the need to develop concepts for North American regional elephant reserves. The Steering Committee, led by John Lehnhardt of Disney's Animal Kingdom, developed an "Elephant Survival and Resource Center" prospectus and outlined how a regional facility could contribute to the short and long-term elephant population and husbandry management goals of the Elephant TAG/SSP. The prospectus addresses several key areas including population management, training, research and education. "The Pittsburgh Zoo's plan addresses and benefits each key area," Vehrs said. "Much of the infrastructure for a conservation center is already in place -- a tribute to those who were searching for just such a site. It is ideal for the Zoo's elephant program goals, as well as other species that may reside there in the future including endangered species such as African wild dogs, rhinos and Grevy's zebra.
January 9, 2006 www.mercurynews.com By Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post
In 1972, President Nixon's historic trip to China was about breaking up the Sino-Soviet axis. The arrival of Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling proved an equal work of statecraft. The pandas were to come in a trade for Milton and Matilda, baby musk oxen coveted by the Chinese. The bears were scheduled to travel to Washington at a triumphant Nixon's side, but days before the trip, Milton came down with a cold and could not fly. Protocol required that there be no pandas without oxen. "The president was terribly upset,'' said Day Mount, now 65 and retired. "He didn't want anyone to get credit for bringing the pandas to the U.S., so none of the high-ranking people could go.'' Mount, a junior diplomat was made "gift officer.'' He flew to China with the oxen, feeding the sniffling Milton from a baby bottle. Returning in a cargo plane loaded with Hsing Hsing, Ling Ling and bamboo, he tangled with Air Force personnel in Honolulu who confiscated the pandas' favorite food for pest control reasons, replacing it with Hawaiian-grown fare. He fretted that the bears would not eat or would get overheated. "If something happened to them on the way, it could have reflected on the relationship,'' Mount said. "This was the public event that was going to seal that friendship.''
Rosamond Gifford's New Penguin Pool Leaks
January 9, 2006 www.newsday.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ A mysterious leak in the penguin pool has forced Rosamond Gifford Zoo officials to move their colony of Humboldt penguins temporarily indoors from their new $3.7 million exhibit. The zoo's 19 Humboldt penguins had to vacate the 50,000-gallon pool Oct. 11 for the repair work. They have not been allowed to return. Workers fixed small leaks in the bottom but still don't know how the heated, outdoor pool loses from 700 gallons to 1,700 gallons of water per day, said Anne Baker, zoo director. Nor do they know where the leaking water is going. Baker said. "I truly have to give the contractor credit. He has tried to resolve this." The much-anticipated penguin exhibit opened to the public June 29. During the work, the penguins have remained at their indoor exhibit, which includes three small pools. The public can still see them through a viewing window. Baker said zoo administrators recently decided to refill the outdoor pool while continuing to monitor for leaks. Eventually, contractors may search for the leaks with technology that uses an infrared camera.
Evolving Panda Policy
January 9, 2006 www.miami.com
1972: Richard M. Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to visit China. Two
months later, Day Mount, the State Department's first panda officer, escorts
Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling from Beijing to Washington in 1972. The National Zoo
in Washington, D.C., receives the pandas and sends Milton and Matilda, two musk
oxen to Beijing.
1979: The United States and China establish diplomatic relations. The Chinese government invites the WWF to collaborate on giant panda conservation, making it the first international conservation group to work in the country.
1984: USFWS lists the giant panda as an endangered species, limiting imports.
Mid-1980s: Short-term loans of giant pandas to zoos bring concerns, and a lawsuit charges that the loans, profitable for China, violate international treaties and further endanger the animals.
1992: Ling Ling dies.
1993: China issues the conservation plan for the giant panda and its habitat, a key legal tool for protecting pandas in China, developed with international cooperation. The United States imposes a moratorium on panda imports pending a review of import policies.
1996: The San Diego Zoo receives a pair of pandas under a new policy: long-term loans, with the money paid to China to help the survival of the species. Zoos negotiate directly with the Chinese government, with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Department, which monitors all loan agreements.
2002: USFWS work with China on a new agreement providing wider verification of zoo-funded panda conservation programs.
Modernizing Pakistan's Lahore Zoo
January 10, 2006 www.tmcnet.com
LAHORE -- Two decades ago a number of modifications were done at the Lahore zoo, but those were not sufficient. Now, on January 17, a Rs 192.665 million master plan will be launched to help the zoo modernize and meet international standards. The new master plan will involve large scale reshaping of the zoo with the addition of new facilities such as a bird aviary, aquarium, bear, chimpanzee, monkey, and leopard and lion exhibits. A new café with a jungle-like atmosphere and a new duck pond will also be added. The new construction work will be in accordance with the natural habitat of the animals with artificial ponds, hills and thick grass. Like all international zoos in the world the Lahore Zoo will include a 4,400 sq ft aquarium. Similarly a reptile house, covering an area of 5,600 square feet, will be built. The zoo management is making special arrangements to devise a temperature control system for the reptile house and an in-built system for insects breeding to be used as food for reptiles.
Taiwan's Panda Mania
January 10, 2006 e.sinchew-i.com
More than 100 reporters from China and Taiwan converged at the Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, to photograph a pair of cubs slated to be sent to Taiwan. The pair--No 16, a female, and No 19, a male--made headlines in Taipei Saturday (Jan 7). The media wrote about their hobbies and their horoscopes (Virgo). One loves climbing trees while the other enjoys eating and playing. Although the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has not decided whether to accept the pandas, the Taipei Zoo has already started building a NT$200m (USD6m), four-storey enclosure for the bears, due to be completed in June. At least two other zoos are competing to house the pandas, which have also become the subject of political bickering. The DPP slammed China for forcing the pandas on Taiwan, describing them as Beijing's "weapons to promote reunification." But the opposition camp urged the government to allow the pandas, an endangered species, to come to Taiwan, citing popular demand. A KMT official even suggested holding a referendum on the issue.
Saving Cambodia's Giant Catfish
January 10, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Stefan Lovgren
The Cambodian Department of Fisheries recently declared the commercial fishing operation on the Tonle Sap River, a special research and conservation area. Any fisherman catching a critically endangered catfish must turn it over to the Mekong Fish Conservation Project where director Zeb Hogan, a biologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his team, tags and releases it back into the river. The Giant Catfish can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weigh 650 pounds (295 kilograms), and was once found throughout the Mekong River system, which runs through China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. But in the last century, the population has declined 95 to 99 percent. Hogan says there may only be a few hundred adult giant catfish left in the system today.
Zoo's Plan for Possible Bird Flu Arrival
January 10, 2006 sfgate.com
"We do think that it is a very real risk, and one we need to prepare for,'' said Dr. Donald Janssen, associate director of veterinary services at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, home -- with its sister institution, the San Diego Zoo -- to a collection of some 3,000 birds. San Diego is modeling its plan against a theoretical outbreak of avian influenza on its experience with a real epidemic of exotic Newcastle disease that occurred in Southern California in 2003. Although not as worrisome as the avian flu -- which researchers fear could mutate into a lethal human influenza -- exotic Newcastle disease can be devastating to chicken flocks as well as other birds. "Poultry farms on three sides of us, within 10 miles, were infected. It was a big threat to our collection,'' Janssen recalled. Stepped up "bio-security" measures, which include keeping birds under cover, limiting access to humans, and disinfection of keeper shoes and clothing may have done the trick. No San Diego Zoo or Wildlife Park birds were lost. Janssen said zoo personnel are also concerned about their own safety. To date, nearly all human cases of avian influenza have involved people who live in close contact with infected birds. Should the disease move into urban areas, zookeepers and veterinarians are likely to be the first to handle sick and dying birds. "If a human vaccine is available, we want our staff to be high on the priority list,'' he said.
Pittsburgh Zoo's New Conservation Center
January 10, 2006 pittsburghlive.com By Bill Zlatos
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium plans to convert a controversial 724-acre ranch in Somerset County that was used for hunting fenced-in animals, including bison and wild boars, into a center for breeding African elephants and other rare animals. Zoo officials have an agreement to buy and develop the Glen Savage Ranch in Fairhope into an International Conservation Center. Zoo officials also plan to use the center to teach handlers around the world about elephants and boost local tourism through children's camps and safari rides. The zoo expects to close on the property, about 12 miles south of Interstate 76, in February or March. It will pay for the deal with $2.2 million from The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit environmental group. The zoo is trying to raise money to build a center for housing, exercising and breeding the animals. Baker expects that it will take two years to raise the money and build it. "Most of the Top 10 zoos now have off-site breeding centers," Baker said, citing zoos in Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Cincinnati and Columbus. The zoo hopes to first introduce as many as 20 elephants on the site, then 20 to 30 cheetahs, as well as Siberian tigers, black rhinoceroses, snow leopards, African wild dogs and Grevy's zebras. Baker said the zoo in Highland Park will continue to exhibit African elephants, and the breeding center will allow it to add new species, such as African wild dogs and Grevy's zebras. Under the sales agreement, Glen Savage Ranch ended the hunting of animals on Dec. 31. The remaining six bison and 20 deer will be allowed to live on the property, Baker said.
Chapultepec Tries to "Borrow" a Panda
January 10, 2006 news.xinhuanet.com/english
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico first owned pandas on Sept. 10, 1975, when China donated a pair of pandas named Bei Bei and Ying Ying. The couple became the most prolific pair outside China by having seven offspring. Mexico now has three female pandas: Xiu Hua, 20 years old, XuanXuan, 18, and Xin Xin, 15, all at the Chapultepec Zoo. But none of the three has become pregnant despite several artificial fertilization treatments and three visits -- in 2001, 2002 and 2003 -- by the Japanese male panda Ling Ling. The zoo even sent Xuan Xuan to Tokyo for another try with Ling Ling, but the two pandas still failed to reproduce. Fernando Gual Sill, general director of Mexico City's public zoos said that Mexico has made arrangements with China through diplomatic channels to get a male panda under the "reproductive lending" formula. If given an official permit, Chinese experts would visit Mexico to learn about the three females, said Gual, who is the manager of the city's three public zoos. Currently there are only 160 pandas in captivity.
El Nino Affects Whale Breeding
January 10, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
New research shows that global climate processes are affecting southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) in the South Atlantic. A thirty-year study by an international team of scientists found a strong relationship between breeding success of whales in the South Atlantic and El Nino in the western Pacific. The results are published this week in the On-line journal Biology Letters. Southern right whales, internationally protected since 1935, migrate from the South Atlantic to the Southern Ocean to feed. Scientists know from other studies that following El Nino, changes in sea temperatures affect the availability of krill, a shrimp-like crustacean, which is the main diet of these whales. It is known that these changes affect penguins and seals in the Antarctic, but this is the first time the link has been made with whales as they return to their calving grounds in the South Atlantic. Although their populations are showing signs of recovery, sea surface temperatures in parts of the Southern Ocean have increased by 1°C over the last 50 years and if they continue to rise this could threaten their recovery.
Dakota Zoo seeks funds for expansion
January 10, 2006 www.bismarcktribune.com By RICHARD HINTON
With donations of $1.1 million in hand, the Dakota Zoo is almost halfway to its goal for a major expansion that would include a big-cat complex, a new primate center and another rest area. The "Make the Big Cats Roar" goal is $2.3 million, zoo director Terry Lincoln said. The big-cat complex would house two new species, Siberian tigers and snow leopards. The plan calls for the cats to be more accessible for viewing in the winter. The zoo is now home to mountain lions, bobcats and lynx. The primate center, too, would offer year-round viewing. "Much of our collection is temperate and go into winter, off-limits areas," Lincoln said. The timetable calls for work on the rest area to begin in the spring and be finished by midsummer, Lincoln said. The cost is $150,000. The rest area, which would include restrooms, also could accommodate special events, including things like the wine-tasting fundraiser," Depending on how donations come in, the large cat complex would be started in the spring of 2007 and finished by that fall. It has the biggest price tag, $1.2 million. With 600-plus animals already on hand, the zoo is "looking at adding things to enhance what we already have, things people don't get to see anywhere else," Lincoln said. A new primate center would house species such as spider monkeys, lemurs, gibbons, plus several species of tamarins and marmosets. Cost is estimated at $612,000.
Saving Australia's Corroboree Frog
January 11, 2006 www.smh.com.au By James Woodford
Once the southern corroboree frog was one of the more common alpine species, with hundreds of colonies living in Australia's highest swamps. But in the 1980s and '90s their numbers plummeted, and today a mere 18 colonies are left, most with fewer than five adults. Climate change, drought and amphibian chytrid fungus disease have all been blamed for taking corroboree frogs to the edge of extinction. Since 1997 the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Amphibian Research Centre in Melbourne have run a joint program in which about 4000 captive-reared tadpoles have been released into Kosciuzsko National Park in the hope that they would mature into breeding adults. Unfortunately that effort has failed because as tadpoles they are believed to come into contact with other species infected with the fungal disease. The Parks Service Threatened Species Officer, David Hunter, said no matter how many tadpoles were released it did not seem to have any impact on the size of the adult population.
Neighbors React to Elephant Center
January 11, 2006 www.tribune-democrat.com By KECIA BAL
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium have announced plans to transform a 724-acre hunting preserve into a multimillion-dollar conservation center for elephants and, eventually, other species like cheetahs, black rhinos and Russian antelope. Many neighbors are excited about the unique prospect. "We had to get used to the elk bugling during mating season, so who knows what we'll hear with all those animals. It would be nice, too, if it provided some revenue and jobs." The center is expected to create about five permanent jobs. Tax revenue is also a factor in Allegheny Township. "As a nonprofit organization, they can apply for tax-exempt status," said supervisors' board Chairman Miles Costello Jr. Costello also questioned how center administrators could address sewage and water needs for elephants, which can drink 30 gallons of water daily. The township has no sewer system, and residents use small, lot-owned septic systems. "We don't know what we're going to face here," Costello said. "But we can issue public-safety ordinances if we need to." A supervisor in Fairhope Township, which borders the ranch, worries about big-city problems invading the countryside. "Around here, people like their privacy," Supervisor Kevin Emerick said. "This might change the whole ballgame." The zoo's mammal curator said the center is not meant to become a zoo branch. "The primary mission is to be an international conservation center," Amos Morris said. "It will be a full-service elephant facility - just an extension of our existing facility. There will still be elephants here at the zoo."
Oregon Zoo's 2006 Plans
January 11, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
Next year, the Oregon zoo will open several new exhibits and host a number of entertaining programs and special events. Visitors can check oregonzoo.org for updated listings and more information. On March 24th, Endangered and exotic wild pigs of Asia opens, beginning with Visayan warty pigs. Renovations to the zoo's Primates Building, which began in will continue, and on August 4, a new ocelot exhibit will debut. Cascade Canyon Trail will be added to the Great Northwest exhibit and will feature cougar, black bear and bobcat. At Cougar Crossing, opening in September, visitors can watch these big cats through a wide opening with just piano wire separating them from the animals. Another path leads to a rocky, heated cougar den, viewed through a window. Black Bear Ridge, opening in summer 2007, will complete Cascade Canyon Trail and take visitors from the mountain goat exhibit to the American black bears and bobcats among cedars, firs and a stream. Winged Wonders: The butterflies will be back again this summer, beginning May 20. The walk-through butterfly aviary will be filled with no less than 450 butterflies at any time, representing various native and tropical species. The exhibit will also feature approximately 3900 trees and other plants representing more than 80 varieties.
Classic Kong at Auckland Zoo
11 January 2006 www.scoop.co.nz
Auckland Zoo's night screening of the classic King Kong will run from 7pm - 10pm on 26 January. The $30 event is a fundraiser for the zoo's Conservation Fund, and guests are encouraged to dress up in 1930s style. After enjoying the original King Kong movie, the audience will be treated to a specially guided torch-lit walk around the zoo, past a number of Zoo animals who appeared in the opening scenes of Peter Jackson's recently released King Kong. Among animals featured are spider monkeys, cotton-top tamarins, chimpanzee Janie, orang utan and elephants. In addition to popcorn, Movie goers will also receive a complimentary glass of wine. A cash bar will also be operating. Individuals who dress up as their favourite character from the 1933 movie, will also be entered in a drawing to win tickets to the zoo's upcoming ZooMusic series. Eighty-five tickets go on sale today. All proceeds from the evening will go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, which supports projects in the wild, both locally and internationally. Among projects this fund supports are the Sumatran Orang utan Conservation Project, Cheetah Outreach, 'Ark in the Park' in the Waitakere Ranges, Campbell Island teal, and the Cuc Phuong Turtle Project in Vietnam.
NW Hawaii Reef Conservation Critical
January 11, 2006 www.enn.com By Tara Godvin, AP
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to 14 million seabirds that nest there. Beneath the surface of the surrounding waters, fish crowd into pristine coral reefs. The islands are home to about 7,000 species of birds, fish and marine mammals, a quarter of which are unique to Hawaii. While the islands have been protected for nearly a century as a refuge, the surrounding reefs are entering a critical year for their protection in 2006. "This refuge that spans 1,400 miles (2,253 kilometers) is America's Galapagos, and Americans don't know it," said Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Over the next year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be developing rules for managing the waters of the island chain under a proposed sanctuary status, which could prohibit or even expand fishing and activities such as coral and lobster harvesting. Banning fishing in the 132,000-square-mile (337,920-square-kilometer) area would create the largest no-take marine sanctuary in the United States, second in the world only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Korean Scientist's Cloned Dog is Real
January 11, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Maryann Mott
Seoul National University officials have concluded their month-long investigation into the work of scientist Woo Suk Hwang. The findings, released yesterday, confirm that the South Korean fabricated key research, including claims to have cloned the first human embryo in 2004 and patient-specific stem cell lines last year. But Snuppy, a black-and-tan Afghan hound, really is the world's first cloned dog. Dogs are difficult to clone because of infrequent fertile periods in females. Other mammals have much more frequent and regular cycles. Hwang created the male puppy last year through a process known as somatic-cell nuclear transfer-the same method that produced Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned mammal. As a result of the controversy surrounding Hwang's work, peer-reviewed journals will now employ added safeguards to verify the findings of important studies. The journal Nature, which published Hwang's dog-cloning study, initiated independent DNA tests to verify Hwang's claims. The new tests included DNA fingerprinting analysis of blood samples from Snuppy; from Tai, the dog that donated the cell nucleus that was later cloned; and from unrelated Afghan hounds.
Warming Devastating Frogs in Latin America
January 11, 2006 www.nytimes.com By ANDREW C. REVKIN
A study, led by J. Alan Pounds, the resident biologist at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, has found that recent global warming has combined with a spreading fungus to create a killing zone, driving many species to extinction. Patterns of fungus outbreaks and species loss in widely dispersed patches of habitat are synchronized in a way that cannot be explained by chance. The new findings imply that warming driven by human activity may have already fostered outbreaks of disease and imperiled species with restricted habitats. The article will appear on Thursday in the journal Nature.
Vietnamese Leaf Turtle Hatches in Oregon
January 11, 2006 www.kotv.com
A pair of endangered Vietnamese Leaf Turtles, believed to be infertile, were shipped to Oregon, from theTulsa Zoo, to be part of a new year-long turtle exhibit. Betsy Olsen is a reptile keeper at Tulsa and she also has a collection of Vietnamese Leaf Turtles at home. Because most adult Leaf Turtles are involved in a breeding program, when the Oregon Coast Aquarium called looking for turtles for a special exhibit, Betsy offered a pair of her own. "The reason I thought I could send mine from home is cause I had that pair that had never bred." But after they arrived in Oregon the pair produced a hatchling. Betsy should have her original two turtles and their baby back home in Tulsa in June.
Zoo Penguin's Cataract Surgery
January 11, 2006 www.forbes.com AP
Three nearly blind penguins at the Detroit Zoo can see again thanks to a morning of cataract surgery at a local veterinary center, the Michigan Veterinary Specialists. Cataracts are normally caused by old age and 2 or the penquins are more than 20 years old, and one is over 30. (The birds seldom live past 35). Each bird had the operation on one eye, a procedure that took about an hour according to Scott Carter, the zoo's director of conservation and animal welfare. The operations were scheduled after keepers noticed them bumping into walls, crashing into other penguins and having difficulty finding food.
Emerald Monitor Born at Prague Zoo
January 11, 2006 www.praguepost.com
The Prague Zoo has announced the birth of its 20th emerald monitor in captivity, which cements its position as Europe's leading breeder of the rare reptile, known for the extreme care it needs to grow and reproduce. Since the early 1990s, when the zoo first became interested in the species, which thrives in New Guinea, its zoologists have scored by far the most hatches on the continent. Curator Petr Velenský, has worked at the zoo for 25 years, and few have mastered the complex set of conditions monitors need to reproduce like he has. He knows just how much UV light, heat and humidity they need - and the amount of space they require. The newest born emerald monitor is the third generation to surface in Prague. A mangrove monitor, another type of Varanus Prasinus was also born on New Year's Day. Both will probably be transferred to other zoos in Europe when they are older. Velenský and the zoo also bred the first Cuban iguana in Europe. The iguana is also part of a successful stud program that allows other zoos to start their own Cuban iguana communities while utilizing the knowledge and experience of Prague's zoologists.
Singapore Manatee Goes to Portugal
January 12, 2005 www.channelnewsasia.com
SINGAPORE : The Singapore Zoo is sending one of its marine mammals to Portugal as part of a global captive re-population program. Bruno the manatee is one of five Caribbean manatees at the zoo. In the heavy rain on Thursday, eight men coaxed, then carried the 150-kilogramme mammal out of his enclosure and into a crate. Bruno is being relocated to Portugal's renowned zoological institution, Mundo Aquatico-Zoomarine for breeding purposes. The World Conservation Union has ranked the manatee a rare species facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the next 10 years or so. This is the first marine mammal to be part of the exchange program
Kenya's Elephants Suffering From Drought
January 12, 2006 www.nytimes.com AP
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Elephants in Kenyan national parks and reserves are leaving their drought-stricken sanctuaries to search for water and food near human settlements, where they have attacked starving people trying to protect their crops. U.N. agencies have warned of hunger across the region because of drought and say the situation in eastern Kenya is particularly serious. People reportedly have died of hunger during what officials say is the country's worst drought in 22 years. Connie Maina, spokeswoman for the Kenya Wildlife Services, said Thursday that elephants killed two people last week after leaving the Tsavo West National Park. Problems also have been reported in Lamu, Laikipia and Narok districts, she said. ''We are trying to do ground and air patrol to ensure that the problem animals do not cause any havoc and to try to drive the elephants back to the park,'' Maina said. African elephants are the largest living land mammals, weighing up to 6.5 tons. An elephant eats approximately 5 percent of its body weight and drinks about 30-50 gallons of water a day, according to the Africa Wildlife Foundation. The foundation says there are between 300,000 and 600,000 elephants on the continent -- about half the estimated total of 40 years ago.
Matabeleland Leopard and Cheetah Project
January 12, 2006 www.news-press.com
Conrad Schmitt, of the Naples Zoo, will leave for Zimbabwe on Tuesday for three weeks of tracking endangered carnivores, including cheetah, leopards and brown hyenas. David Tetzlaff, zoo director said this is the first time a staff member has participated in a conservation project in Africa. Schmitt will be part of a three-man team, including Chris Pfefferkorn, general curator at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, and Alan Sironen from the Cleveland (Ohio) Zoo. The team will go to isolated regions in two national parks in Zimbabwe, including the expansive Hwange National Park, and trap animals using bait and cages. The animals will be immobilized and radio collars attached. Then the animals will be released and a GPS will track the radio signals from their collars so their movements can be mapped, Schmitt said. The purpose is to take a census of the animals, monitor their range and behavior, and see how they are surviving in the wild, Schmitt said. The project, started by Pfefferkorn in 2001, is called the Matabeleland Leopard and Cheetah Project. The project works with the Chipangali Wildlife Trust and information is provided to Zimbabwe's national park system to help officials make wildlife management decisions.
China Saves Orchid Germplasm
January 12, 2006 www.bernama.com
SHENZHEN, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- China's first orchidaceous plant germplasm resources protection center was set up in the southern city Shenzhen with the aim to better protect the endangered species, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Thursday quoting sources as saying. China is rich in orchidaceous plant resources, with 148 genera and more than 1,300 species of orchidaceous plants. At the Shenzhen center alone, there are more than 400 species, including 95 of the rarest collected from across the country. The orchid family covers 90 percent of the rarest plants under protection all over the world. The ecological and economic value of orchids has aroused public awareness. In 2001, the Chinese government ranked orchids as the top 15 species under state protection. Zhao Xuemin, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said the new center would contribute to the gathering and preservation of orchids. Relevant advanced technologies applied in this field, such as artificial propagation and conservation biology, would help China save the dying species, Zhao said.
Kenya Begins Rhino Relocation
January 12, 2006 news.yahoo.com
NAIROBI (AFP) - Kenyan wildlife authorities have begun moving 33 endangered rhinos from sanctuaries around the country to a national park in the northeast where the population was decimated by poachers in the past 40 years, officials said. The first four of 10 rhinos to be relocated from the Nairobi National Park to the Meru National Park, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of the capital, left for their new home on Wednesday, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Twenty three other rhinos are to be moved to Meru from Lake Nakuru National Park, west of the capital, as well as two private game preserves, the Lewa Downs and Solio Ranches in the central Rift Valley, by the time the exercise ends on February 5. The KWS intends to create a 2,000-strong genetically viable population of white and black rhinos in the wild in Meru and other sanctuaries.
Denver Lioness Adopts Rejected Cub
January 12, 2006 www.rockymountainnews.com
A baby named Asali, was born to a lioness named Baby on Nov. 23. The first three weeks, all went well with first-time mother and cub, but suddenly Baby lost interest in nursing her baby girl. Zoo staff intervened and brought the cub back to health. They also continued exposing the cub to other lionesses to keep her socialized. One lioness in particular, Natal, paid close attention to Asali. Natal had only recently given birth to stillborn cubs. Soon Natal had adopted Asali. "Natal has proven to be a nurturing mother. We're so pleased that she is willing to raise this cub as her own. To our knowledge this is one of the first successful introductions of a surrogate lioness and cub in North American zoos," said vice president for biological programs Lynn Kramer. Asali and Natal are not yet on exhibit. Asali, now 7 weeks old and 13 pounds, continues to be fed by zookeepers.
Protecting Non-human Primates from Ebola
January 12, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Scientists have developed a successful method for interfering with Ebola virus infection - protecting 75% of nonhuman primates exposed to the lethal disease. This is the first successful antiviral intervention against filoviruses like Ebola in nonhuman primates. The findings could serve as the basis for a new approach to quickly develop virus-specific therapies for known, emerging, and genetically engineered pathogens. A research team led by Sina Bavari and colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) reports using novel "antisense" drugs to interrupt normal Ebola virus replication. The work was performed in collaboration with AVI BioPharma, a U.S. biotechnology firm, and appears in the January 12 online issue of the journal Public Library of Science.
WWF Trains Gold Miners in Suriname
January 13, 2006 www.enn.com By Arny Belfor, AP
PARAMARIBO, Suriname - The Suriname branch of the World Wildlife Fund said Thursday it would train about 12,000 gold miners to use new and environment friendly mining techniques. These miners, many of whom work illegally, will be registered and trained to the new methods thanks to a US$150,000 (euro123,834) grant awarded Thursday by the Inter American Development Bank, said Jerrel Pinas, spokesman for WWF-Suriname. Although precise figures have not been compiled, it is believed that the boom of small-scale and wildcat gold mining has caused serious mercury pollution in Suriname, Pinas said. While large mines use cyanide in a controlled industrial circuit, most small-scale miners use mercury to separate the gold from other minerals they excavate. Dumped into rivers and streams, this mercury can cause irreparable ecological and health damages, he said.
Oregon Zoo's 2005 Attendance
January 13, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
PORTLAND, Oregon - Popular camps, summer concerts and special events boosted the Oregon Zoo's calendar year attendance to 1,339,537, its second highest attendance in 119 years. Last year the zoo achieved an all time high of 1,350,952 visitors during its calendar year. Zoo Director Tony Vecchio is pleased by the community support. "We continue to attract large audiences because of our commitment to always offer new exhibits and new things to do and see at the zoo," says Vecchio. "Even our membership program is busting out at the seams with a record number of members. Any way you look at it, it's been a terrific year."
U.S. Opens 389,000 Alaskan Acres for Oil
January 13, 2006 www.nytimes.com By FELICITY BARRINGER
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 - The Interior Department has decided to open 389,000 acres of Alaskan lakes, tundra and shoreline to oil exploration, reversing an eight-year-old compromise intended to protect the habitat of hundreds of thousands of migratory birds and the hunting grounds of Inupiat natives who live near the Beaufort Sea. Henri Bisson, the state director of the federal Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, said Thursday that the new plan would increase by as much as two billion barrels the oil that could be recovered from the northeastern section of the National Petroleum Reserve while providing protection for birds in the summer when they shed their flight feathers and hatch chicks. Critics, including Alaska Natives and groups like the Audubon Society and the Wilderness Society, said the protection would not prevent fragmenting the birds' habitat or the disturbance when pipelines were built. There will be airplane and helicopter traffic, as well as industrial activity. The fight over the area where wild fowl from California, Japan, Mexico and Russia congregate every summer has been largely overshadowed by the controversy over the Arctic refuge, which remains closed to oil and gas exploration after a Democratic filibuster last month.
California's New Solar Energy Plan
January 13, 2006 www.enn.com By Leonard Anderson, Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Public Utilities Commission Thursday approved a $2.9 billion program to make California one of the world's largest producers of solar power. The "California Solar Initiative," backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aims to add 3,000 megawatts of solar energy over 11 years through the installation of 1 million rooftop solar energy systems on homes, businesses, farms, schools and public buildings. That amount of electricity would be equivalent to about six new power stations. If the program is fully implemented, California would become the world's third-largest solar generator behind Japan and Germany. The state currently has about 100 megawatts of solar electricity. The program will offer rebates for adding solar systems and is expected to give a big boost to manufacturers of solar power generating cells and panels. The money for the program will come from existing funds already earmarked for solar energy and gas and electric utility rates. The average residential utility bill would go up by 65 cents a month, according to Environment California, a solar power supporter. Solar spending could save California utility customers an estimated $9 billion from a reduced need to build new power plants and purchase electricity supplies during high demand days in the summer, according to a commission report.
The Detroit Zoo's Wildlife Interpretive Gallery
January 13, 2006 msutoday.msu.edu By Alicia Clarke
"Birds of South Asia: History vs. Mystery" is a joint project between ornithologist Pamela Rasmussen, an MSU Museum assistant curator of birds and mammals, and the Smithsonian. The exhibit features vocalizations and the illustrations of famed ornithological artist John C. Anderton and was inspired by Rasmussen's two-volume book, "Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide." It's an innovative guide presenting taxonomic information, illustrations, range maps and vocalization sonograms for more than 1,400 species of Asian birds. The guide is illustrated by co-author Anderton. Rasmussen has gained distinction in the guide for the detail of bird calls. For example, the Rufous Woodpecker's call "can include a very loud, penetrating, strident, nasal KEENk-KEENk-KEENk, each note of similar pitch and length" as well as "a loud, nasal harsh irregular yaffing or falling tu-wic, tu-wic, tu-wicca notes." There is an active kiosk where guests can hear the bird vocalizations themselves, as well as a computer that turns the whistles, warbles and thrills into sonograms to help visitors, and researchers, differentiate between each call.
Pathology of Avian Flu Virus in Mammals
January 13, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Avian influenza virus in mammals spreads beyond the site of infection to
other organ systems
Researchers at Erasmus Medical Center have demonstrated systemic spread of avian influenza virus in cats infected by respiratory, digestive, and cat-to-cat contact. The paper by Rimmelzwaan et al., "Influenza A virus (H5N1) infection in cats causes systemic disease with potential novel routes of virus spread within and between hosts," appears in the January issue of The American Journal of Pathology and is accompanied by a commentary.
New Tool to Study Bird Flu Virus Mutation
January 13, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com Brian Handwerk
Geneticists monitoring Turkey's bird flu outbreak say the virus has mutated, but the change poses no added threat. The same mutation was observed in virus samples from victims of the 2003 Hong Kong and 2005 Vietnam bird flu outbreaks. Experts stress that the known mutation is not in itself a reason for increased concern. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said "It is unclear whether the mutation occurred in the person or whether it occurred in the chicken," Genetic tests reveal that the Turkish flu victims almost certainly acquired the virus from sick birds, rather than from other humans. Earlier this week researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, unveiled a new tool that might help track any outbreak of pandemic bird flu in real time. The technology, called a glycan array, is a grid of sugars similar to those found on the outsides of human cells. Avian and human viruses recognize and attach themselves to different sugar structures. Scientists using the array can identify genetic mutations that help avian flu virus strains bind more easily to human cells.
Animal Count at the London Zoo
January 13, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
Every year the keepers at London Zoo count the animals. The animal "stock take" is necessary so that wardens can keep an exact record of which animals were bred at the zoo, and which died there during 2005. The Zoo has 600 species: 8308 invertebrates, 812 mammals, 575 birds, 456 reptiles, 11 amphibians, 2715 fish.
Maryland Zoo's Golden Frog Breeding Program
January 13, 2006 washingtontimes.com By Arlo Wagner
"The Maryland Zoo was the first to breed Panamanian golden frogs in captivity and now has one-half of the North American population of the frogs," said Maryland zoo spokesman Kerry Graves, adding that about 2,000 of the colorful amphibians hop and swim around at the zoo today. "In a few years, we may actually go back to Panama to create a conservatory there." Global warming was recently blamed by a science journal for the killing of dozens of frog species in the past 30 years. Yet, it is only part of the reason for the disappearance of much of the already small population of the golden frog. In its native home, the frog's rain forest habitat is disappearing as trees are being cut down to clear land for farms and villages. The use of chemicals such as fertilizers are also deadly to golden frogs. They have also been illegally trapped and sold as pets. Adult frogs, which can grow up to several inches long, live about 10 years. They are considered a good luck symbol. Protecting the golden frog in zoos and aquariums might also save them from the Chytrid fungus, a disease that toughens the frogs' skin, making it impermeable to water and oxygen. The disease can not be treated in the wild.
Oregon Zoo Panda Study Released
January 14, 2006 www.insidebayarea.com By Laura Casey
OAKLAND - A pair of giant pandas at the Oakland Zoo could bring up to 1.3 million more visitors to the facility during 10 years and increase the visits of out-of-town tourists and members of the Asian community, according to an Oakland Zoo market study released this week. The study, developed by the Hausrath Economics Group, said the zoo can expect a spike in attendance within the first few years and another spike should the pair have a baby. It also would attract more Asian visitors. Currently, Asian residents are less likely than other Bay Area citizens to visit the zoo. The zoo paid $38,000 for the study to help city and zoo officials understand what sort of economic impact the pandas could have. The city and the Oakland Zoo have been working since 1999 to lease a pair from China for research and display." City Councilmember Henry Chang, has been leading the community effort He said that while much of the exhibit design and building costs have been donated, supporters will have to raise an additional $1.2 million for other costs. So far, the zoo has raised less than $200,000. The Oakland China Wildlife Preservation Foundation, a group formed to help bring pandas to Oakland, raised about $70,000 during a fund-raising event in April 2005 and the restaurant chain Panda Express raised $36,000 for the effort. Willie Yee, Chang's chief of staff, said officials at the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding have already picked a pair suitable for Oakland. Four other U.S. zoos - San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. - have pairs of giant pandas.
Milwaukee County Zoo studies bonobos' hearts
January 14, 2006 www.duluthsuperior.com Associated Press
MILWAUKEE - Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in captive bonobos. Veterinarian Vickie Clyde has enrolled the Milwaukee County zoo's 21 bonobos, the largest captive population in the country, in a study to examine their hearts from infancy to adulthood. Assisted by the Wisconsin Heart Hospital, ultrasound and electrocardiograms are being used to collect information. In the past, zookeepers and veterinarians in the past used behavior to help them diagnose the animals. The program started in 1999, but only in the past few years have the bonobos cooperated enough to let the researchers collect solid data. Clyde said researchers have found cardiovascular disease causes more than 40 percent of captive bonobo deaths.
Woodland Park Zoo Suspends Pony Rides
January 14, 2006 seattlepi.nwsource.com
Woodland Park Zoo is canceling, at least temporarily, the popular pony rides that have been offered since 1919. Last summer there were sometimes 45-minute waits for a ride. Bruce Bohmke, the zoo's deputy director, said part of the issue was the zoo's decision to build a parking garage where the pony ring stands. The pony ride eventually will be moved to the south side of the zoo, near the farm animals, but the zoo still needs to raise about $3 million for the ponies' new home. That could take two or three years. So the 8 ponies are being adopted by families and are headed to new lives. "We…think it's the best thing in terms of the public and animal husbandry," said Nancy Hawkes, zoo general curator. Two of the ponies are arthritic and the rides had been suspended for the winter, anyway; now they won't begin again in the spring.
Turkish Zoo Prepares for Bird Flu
January 15, 2006 www.statesman.com By Kadyr Toktogulov
ANKARA, Turkey - From the capital's main zoo to a reeling national poultry industry, the effects of a deadly bird flu outbreak continued to ripple across Turkey on Saturday. Authorities nationwide continued to slaughter thousands of chickens, turkeys and geese as a precaution against the H5N1 strain, which has killed at least 79 people worldwide, including three Turks. Kemal Akman, who leads a poultry producers union, told the Hurriyet newspaper that sales have plunged by 70 percent since human infections were confirmed in Turkey a week ago. At least 455,000 domestic birds have been culled, and bird flu is now confirmed or suspected in birds in 26 of Turkey's 81 provinces. Workers at the Ankara zoo covered cages with plastic sheets to protect exotic fowl from contact with wild birds carrying the virus. The zoo's director, Nadir Sahin, said workers were isolating pheasants and chickens, which are most vulnerable. The cages of swans, ducks, falcons, eagles and vultures also were being wrapped. "Some visitors call us to ask if it is safe to visit the zoo these days," he said. "We tell them that they can visit us with no fear."
Creating Biotic Corridors
January 15, 2006 www.nytimes.com By DEBRA WEST
IN 1997, a herpetologist named Michael W. Klemens began noticing the extent of the threat that suburban sprawl posed to amphibians. It was a menace even greater than pollutants like DDT. So he turned his attention away from pure scientific research to become a "bio-advocate." He established the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, an offshoot of the Wildlife Conservation Society, with one goal in mind: to design public policy that would preserve animal habitats before they were broken up into one long row of fenced-off suburban backyards. Eight years later, Dr. Klemens is far closer to achieving that goal - at least in northern Westchester, his first test market. His plan for a 22,000-acre stretch of protected land, spanning Lewisboro, Pound Ridge and North Salem but governed by one uniform set of land-use laws, was endorsed by the three town governments early last year. Last month the towns took the next step, hiring planning consultants to turn the ideas and the goal into actual zoning ordinances that would govern the way property could be developed within what Dr. Klemens calls the Eastern Westchester Biotic Corridor. Now there are several biotic corridors planned throughout the tristate region.
NC Zoo Makes Biodiesel Fuel
January 15, 2006 www.news-record.com By Elyse Ashburn
ASHEBORO - The N.C. Zoo's latest environmental initiative is to make its own biodiesel fuel to power its trams and diesel vehicles "The zoo's been really innovative, really willing to try new things and measure their progress," said Sharon Johnson, of the N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance. "I would certainly like to see other state agencies follow their lead." Since the 1990s, zoo officials have switched to 100 percent organic fertilizers, upped their in-house recycling efforts and launched a cell-phone recycling program for visitors and community members. They've begun testing the water quality in and around the park, switched their diesel vehicles to biodiesel and hosted dozens of educational events. And they've committed to composting -- which keeps 1,300 to 1,500 tons of solid waste out of the landfill each year -- and cut water and energy use, which is no small task at a zoo.
Monkeys Have Accents
January 16, 2006 www.timesonline.co.uk By Anjana Ahuja
Nobuo Masataka, professor of animal behaviour at Kyoto University, studied two troops groups of Japanese macaques that are separated from each other by 700 kilometres (435 miles). One group lives in a forest on a southern Japanese island, the other on a mountain in central Japan. Over a period of eight years Professor Masataka recorded the feeding calls issued by the female monkeys in both troops. Those made by the island dwellers were, on average, 110Hz higher than those made by the mainland troop. "One of the characteristics of human language lies in its modifiability," Masataka told National Geographic. "Japanese monkey vocalizations share this characteristic with our language." He suggests that higher frequencies carry better in a forest.
Kenya May Lift Hunting Ban
January 16, 2006 www.enn.com By Ed Stoddard, Reuters
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -Kenya may lift the prohibition placed on sports hunting in 1977 as part of a broader revamp of wildlife policies, a senior official said Friday. Such a move could see foreign hunters target Kenyan lion, buffalo, and antelope species but would provoke resistance from animal welfare groups. Kenya is the the odd man out among game-rich African nations including neighboring Tanzania, which have cashed in on the lucrative big game hunting industry. Estimates suggest that foreign hunters bring about $165 million a year into South Africa's economy. "Hunting is the most lucrative way of utilizing wildlife and it has the least impact," said Laurence Frank, a researcher with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society. This is because foreign sport hunters tend to favor "trophies" which are usually older and nonbreeding animals. Local hunters often shoot for food. And with hunting, there are fewer people, vehicles and noise involved than when tourists visit game reserves so it can be less intrusive. "Much of our wildlife is outside of protected areas and local communities must get benefits from wildlife. "We started a policy review in September last year on our entire wildlife policy, looking at a range of issues. The ban on hunting is one of those up for review and discussion," said Julius Kipng'etich, the director of Kenya Wildlife Service.
Rare Bats Discovered in Oklahoma
January 16, 2006 www.nytimes.com
TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A forestry specialist with the Cherokee Nation in eastern Oklahoma has uncovered a newfound colony of endangered Ozark big-eared bats. Scientists believe that only about 2,000 of the bats exist, and roughly 75 percent of those are in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma bat colony was discovered by forester Pat Gwin, who noticed the bats in a cave and thought most of them looked ordinary. A biologist, Gwin had studied the animals 20 years ago as a student assistant to a research professor at Northeastern State University. He called in Steve Hensley, manager of the nearby Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge who works for USFWS, who confirmed that some of the bats were the rare Ozark big-eared variety.
Conserving Dominican Republic's Ridgway's Hawk
January 16, 2006 www.birdlife.org
Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi is a forest raptor endemic to the island of Hispaniola. Once commonly distributed throughout the island, the hawk has been reduced in the last century to a single declining population of 80 to 120 pairs, confined to less than 208 km2 of native rainforest in the Dominican Republic's Los Haitises National Park. In 2004, the Peregrine Fund, York University (Canada) and the Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola initiated a research project to examine the nesting ecology and conservation genetics of Ridgway's Hawk. This is the first time that nests have been monitored in detail since the species became Critically Endangered. Twenty-one active nests were monitored in 2005. Nineteen were in royal palms and two in emergent endemic hardwood trees. Nineteen fledglings were produced from 11 successful nests, with one nest successfully fledging three young. Observations have revealed previously unknown breeding traits for the species, including the participation of males in incubation.
Biodiversity Threatened by Lack of Pollinators
January 17, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
In biodiversity hot spots like tropical rainforests, a dearth of pollinators could be putting many species at risk of extinction, according to a new study that includes three University of Pittsburgh researchers. The finding is raising concerns that more may need to be done to protect the Earth's most biologically rich areas. The study, titled "Pollination Decays in Biodiversity Hotspots," appears in the Jan. 16 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As the number of birds, bees, and other pollen transporters declines around the world, competition for their attention is becoming increasingly fierce for plants that need them to reproduce. "Pollinators are on the decline globally because of habitat loss and destruction, pesticide use, invasive species, and extinction of vertebrates," said Tia-Lynn Ashman, associate professor of biological sciences at Pitt, who was involved in the study led by University of Calgary biologist Jana Vamosi.
Workshop on Saving the African Lion
January 17, 2006 www.enn.com By Ed Stoddard, Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Regional governments and conservationists have agreed on initial steps that need to be taken to save the African lion, which has been pushed to the brink of extinction throughout much of its range. The strategies were worked out at a workshop on lions in east and southern Africa which wrapped up at the weekend. "...the reduction in the lion's wild prey base, human-lion conflicts and habitat degradation are the major reasons for declining lion populations and need to be addressed," the World Conservation Union, one of the workshop's organisers, said in a statement on Monday. "Over the past 20 years, lion numbers are suspected to have dropped dramatically from an estimated 76,000 to a population estimated to be between 23,000 and 39,000 today. Across Africa, the lion has disappeared from over 80 percent of its former range," the World Conservation Union said. In West Africa lions number fewer than 1,500.
California Rangeland Resolution
January 17, 2006 www.enn.com By Eve Hightower, Appeal-Democrat
Last week, more than 30 public, private and non-profit organizations, from cattlemen to environmentalists, signed the California Rangeland Resolution. The agreement to conserve both wildlife and private agricultural land draws attention to ways ranching supports endangered species. A study published last year in the Journal of Conservation Biology by Jaymee Marty, et.al. concludes cattle grazing can be beneficial for the pools, which fill seasonally with water. According to the study, the wildlife that depend on the pools' increasingly rare habitat actually become more diverse and abundant with grazing. Among the species covered by the agreement are the vernal pool tadpole shrimp and the Butte County meadowfoam, both listed as endangered under federal law. The Swainson's hawk, which traverses much of the state, including Yuba-Sutter, is listed as threatened under state law.
Squirrel's Use Complex Olfactory ID System
January 17, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JOHN SCHWARTZ
New research has determined that Belding's ground squirrels, Spermophilus beldingi, use at least five sources of body scent to identify one another. Jill M. Mateo, an assistant professor in the department of comparative human development at the University of Chicago is the author of the study that appears in the current edition of Animal Behavior. Research by Robert E. Johnston of Cornell has yielded similar results with hamsters. The squirrels can live a decade or more and dwell in high density. They develop distinctive personalities, laid back or cantankerous, so "it pays to be able to know who's who," Dr. Mateo said. Other scientists have studied the many ways social animals identify one another, and Dr. Mateo measured familiarity from the amount of interest squirrels showed in the scents; new smells got more attention than old. She previously showed that squirrels recognize kin, but the new work suggests that they can "tell the difference between Sue and Mary." Each source - glands next to the mouth, back, feet, anus and above the eyes - has a different smell, she said, but each is tied to the individual. "Five different odors say, 'Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue,' " she said.
Experts Debate Elephant Culling in S. Africa
January 17, 2006 allafrica.com By Themba Gadebe
SOUTH AFRICA: Ten of the world's leading elephant scientists are meeting in Cape Town tomorrow to debate the future of South Africa's elephants. The scientists have been asked to demonstrate scientific evidence in support of or against a number of propositions to reduce elephant populations in the country. The Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department (DEAT) said that scientists from SANParks have already recommended that the populations be reduced through translocation, contraception, range expansion and culling. The department has also indicated that the elephant population in the Kruger National Park was increasing at a rate of seven percent every year, and "doubling roughly" every ten years. It further estimates that by 2012 there may be as many as 20 000 elephants in Kruger alone, and by 2019 as many as 30 000.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Survey
January 17, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- A team of international bird experts will begin surveying the Bangladeshi coast Tuesday in search of the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, whose population they believe has dwindled to just 350 pairs in the wild, organizers said Monday. The spoon-billed sandpiper, a small shore bird with a bill shaped like a teaspoon, lives and breeds in the Russian tundra. However, after summer they migrate to warmer climates in Asia, and usually spend winters along the coastal areas of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar -- after a long, arduous journey of nearly 3,730 miles through Japan, Korea and China, said Christoph Zockler from Cambridge, England who will lead the Bangladesh survey. The population of the species has been declining over the years for unknown reasons, and a 2000-2005 survey found an estimated 300-350 breeding pairs in sparsely populated Siberia, Zockler told a news conference.
Pandas at Thailand Zoo Mate
Jan 18, 2006 news.xinhuanet.com/english
BANGKOK, Thailand -- After two years in the same enclosure, giant pandas Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui have started mating, raising hopes they could give birth to a baby in the coming months. The pandas started the mating dance Sunday with a mock wrestling bout, according to officials at the Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand. From there, the pair began sniffing one another on Tuesday and mated later in the day. The Thai press Wednesday was filled with photos of the black and white bears mating. Hundreds of visitors gathered at the zoo to watch the ritual, which officials expect will continue for two or three days. The mating follows a mock wedding held in November for the pair, in which guests --some dressed in panda costumes -- marched and played music in a traditional Thai wedding procession to the zoo.
Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Has CT Scan
January 18, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By William Mullen
A 12-year-old female bottlenose dolphin named Kaylee who lives at nearby Brookfield Zoo entered Loyola University's west suburban medical center Tuesday night for a CT scanning. It was the second time she had been to the hospital to go into the machine. Last year the zoo was pleased to discover that both Kaylee and her mother Tapeko, 24, were pregnant and due to give birth late in the year. Early in October, however, Kaylee began showing signs of illness and keepers soon discovered her fetus had died. On Oct. 5, while doing ultrasounds as part of a procedure to remove the fetus, vets noticed she had a lesion on her right lung. After an initial round of treatment in which she seemed to get better, late in November she began expelling blood through her blowhole while "chuffing," the term used to describe how dolphins cough. Rita Stacey, the zoo's assistant curator of marine mammals. "We were relieved to see that she had just the one lesion." Cultures done from the lesion could not pinpoint a cause, revealing only a lot of bacteria normally found in dolphins' respiratory systems and in the zoo environment, she said. "We have been giving her intensive care" with antibiotics since the initial CT scan, Stacey said. "She is really responding well, gaining weight, regaining her energy, eating well and showing good attitude, cooperating with her keepers."
NGO's Criticize Kenya's Thai Zoo Deal
18 Jan 2006 www.alertnet.org Source: Reuters
NAIROBI -- Forty-five wildlife groups are urging Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to stop plans to ship more than 100 wild animals to a Thai zoo, but a government spokesman said the deal would go ahead. During a visit by Thai Premier Thaksin Sinawatra in November, Kenya agreed to send the beasts more than 7,000 km (4,350 miles) to be part of a tourism project in Thailand. The deal outraged conservationists and prompted a protest last month by hundreds of club-wielding Maasai tribesmen who said they would take up weapons to defend the animals. "The government is not going to change its plans just because a few NGOs (non-governmental organisations) have problems with this," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said.
Elephant AI at Baltimore Zoo
January 18, 2006 wjz.com
Baltimore, MD -- Dolly, one of two African elephants at the Baltimore Zoo, underwent a second artificial insemination attempt this week. The Zoo first tried to artificially inseminate Dolly in July 2005, but that procedure did not result in a pregnancy. The final results of the latest attempt won't be known for several months until a blood test and ultrasound are done. The procedure -- done Monday and Tuesday with different samples from three African bull elephants -- was once again overseen at the Zoo by Dr. Dennis Schmitt, professor of animal science at Southwest Missouri State and an elephant reproductive specialist. He was assisted by Maryland Zoo Elephant Manager Michael McClure and his team of keepers.
LA Zoo's Koala Breeding Program
January 18, 2006 cbs2.com
Two female koalas joined Baz, the Los Angeles Zoo's male koala, as part of a new breeding program and will be displayed in the zoo's Australia section. The zoo is one of only 10 throughout North America displaying koalas. "The last time female koalas entered the U.S. from Australia was in 1990," Zoo Director John Lewis said. The koalas' debut coincides with Los Angeles' celebration of Australia Week, from Jan. 14-22. The marsupials came to Los Angeles from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. They spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping or resting, with the remainder of the day spent eating about 2.5 pounds of eucalyptus leaves.
Recovery Plan for N. Spotted Owl
January 18, 2006 news.fws.gov By David Patte
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reconsidering its 1992 critical habitat designation for the northern spotted owl in accordance with a settlement agreement with the American Forest Resources Council. They have published a Request for Proposals seeking an independent contractor to lead the development of a recovery plan for the northern spotted owl, a threatened species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Request for Proposals will be open for 30 days, and is posted at www.fedbizopps.gov (see solicitation # 101816R060). It seeks an independent contractor to manage and lead the recovery planning effort for the northern spotted owl. The recovery team will be made up of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State representatives of Oregon, Washington and California and federal land management agencies. The Fish and Wildlife Service will appoint the members of the new recovery team, which will replace the original recovery team that developed a draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl in 1992.
Delisting the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear
January 18, 2006 www.nytimes.com By David Quammen
The Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone Park have been listed as "threatened," and therefore protected from hunting and certain other tribulations under the Endangered Species Act for 31 years. But recently the Interior Department has proposed removing them from the list, and this year, after a period for public comment that ends on Feb. 15, Interior Secretary Gale Norton will make a decision. That decision, though political, will in some degree be informed by science. The scientific question is, How safe are Yellowstone's grizzlies from extinction? The political question is, How safe do Americans want them to be? The good news from Yellowstone comes in comparing two approximate numbers: roughly 200 bears in 1975, roughly 600 bears today. The grizzlies of Yellowstone Park are part of a bear population in a larger area, known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses also Grand Teton National Park, parts of six national forests and some other lands under public and private ownership. That ecosystem, so far as bears are concerned, is an island. It's surrounded by landscape inhospitable to grizzly bears: farms, ranches, fences, Interstate highways, golf courses, trophy houses, malls, railroad lines and towns.
Panda Cub Doubles Zoo Attendance
January 19, 2006 www.nbc4.com
WASHINGTON -- Friends of the National Zoo said attendance last month, when the Tai Shan, the zoo's new panda cub was first put on public display, has almost doubled from the number of December visits in 2003 and 2004. And zoo officials said two sets of cheetah cubs also helped increase visits to the zoo last year, especially during February, when nearly 92-thousand visits were recorded. The zoo had more than 1.9 million visitors last year, the highest total since 2002.
Zoos Prepare for Bird Flu
Jan 19, 2006 www.theoaklandpress.com By BOB GROSS
Both the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak and the Farm Learning Center at Kensington Metropark in Milford Township have contingency plans to guard against the arrival of the H5N1 virus. Ann Duncan, chief veterinarian at the Detroit Zoo, said, "Regardless of whether it's inevitable, we have to be prepared. Zoos have a very large responsibility to protect the birds in our care. We're always proactive when it comes to diseases like this. This is something that has been discussed among my colleagues through the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and also through the animal health community of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association," said Duncan. "They have been working on protocols for us to work together to decrease the risk to avian populations." The emphasis has been on prevention - disinfecting equipment, for example, and developing ways to isolate rare and endangered zoo birds from wild populations that might spread the virus. "When birds are coming into us, they are coming in from another zoo, they've had health analysis their entire life and we know they are healthy," said Duncan.
Drought Threatens Kenya's Wildlife
January 19, 2006 www.enn.com By Nita Bhalla, Reuters
NAIROBI - A severe across East Africa is now threatening Kenya's famous animals, which are straying out of protected areas in search of water. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says as watering holes and rivers run dry, elephants are straying out of national parks close to human settlements, risking conflict with villagers. Connie Maina, KWS spokeswoman said. The lack of rains in many parts of East Africa -- including Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia -- has left around 6 million people on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations. With 59 sanctuaries, reserves and national parks, Kenya's wildlife is the top attraction for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock there every year for safari holidays. The worst affected parks were Tsavo National Park in the southeast and the popular Maasai Mara National Reserve in the southwest, where herds of elephants have been invading neighbouring areas since December, when expected rains failed. She said at least two people have been killed in recent weeks when elephants stampeded areas around Tsavo.
Israeli Elephant May Move to Paris
January 19, 2006 www.jpost.com By KARIN KLOOSTERMAN
La Petite, a 20-year-old Asian elephant, has been living in solitary confinement in the Ramat Gan Safari Park since July. The animal, who has the unfortunate history of being an abused circus animal, was shunned from her Israeli herd four years after she left her previous home in England. Even though an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee has been pleading with the Safari to let the sanctuary take her in, the Safari has declined the offer, which included footing the bill of transporting the elephant. In October, the Safari reported that they were working on paperwork and building a crate to send La Petite to a zoo in France. Safari spokeswoman Sagit Horowitz says they are against sending La Petite to a shelter because she should be bred and live among male elephants. The shelter in Tennessee is female-only. She confirmed that although many European zoos have declined the offer to take La Petite, an arrangement is being made between the Safari and a zoo in Paris. Yet the elephant continues to reside in Israel, since paperwork is taking time.
27 New Species In California Cave
January 19, 2006 www.enn.com By Juliana Barbassa, AP
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Twenty-seven previously unknown species of spiders, centipedes, scorpion-like creatures and other animals have been discovered in the dark, damp caves beneath two national parks in the Sierra Nevada, biologists say. "Not only are these animals new to science, but they're adapted to very specific environments -- some of them, to a single room in one cave," said Joel Despain, a cave specialist who helped explore 30 of the 238 known caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The discoveries included a relative of the pill bug so translucent that its internal organs are visible, particularly its long, bright yellow liver. There was also a daddy long legs with jaws bigger than its body, and a tiny fluorescent orange spider.
Spokeskids Raise Money for Elephant Exhibit
January 19, 2006 www.democratandchronicle.com
Six local children have been selected to be "spokeskids" for the Seneca Park Zoo, county officials announced today. As spokeskids, the six children will serve as community ambassadors for the zoo's Bucks for the Baby campaign, an effort to raise funds for a new elephant exhibit at the zoo, said County Executive Maggie Brooks. The new space, which includes a large indoor enclosure, is slated to open this spring. The children also will help share news of the zoo's anticipated baby elephant, said Seneca Park Zoo Director Larry Sorel. The mother-to-be, Genny C, is expected to give birth between Feb. 9 and March 15 and is "doing wonderfully," he said.
Riverbanks koala has terminal cancer
January 19, 2006 www.thestate.com By JOEY HOLLEMAN
Riverbanks Zoo's male koala has terminal cancer. A keeper discovered a large node on Mirai's neck a week ago. Only a few days earlier, no node was noticed during a routine exam, Benson said, adding it's not unusual for lymphoma to develop quickly in koalas. He performed surgery to remove the node, and pathological tests revealed it was cancerous. Koalas diagnosed with lymphoma seldom live more than a few weeks, he said. Mirai will be given corticosteroids, which help shrink swollen lymph nodes but don't cure the disease. Because the 6-year-old is otherwise healthy, Mirai will be kept at the Koala Knockabout, but he will be out of public view. "He looks perfectly fine," Benson said. "He's just very, very sick." In fact, if either of the two female koalas goes into heat, and Mirai seems to feel up to it, he will be allowed to attempt to mate. Cancer treatments common for humans, such as chemotherapy, have been tried on captive koalas with bad results. Often, the koalas die within days, Benson said. Two other koalas - a male and a baby, or joey - have died at Riverbanks since the Koala Knockabout opened in 2002.
Mutations of Bird Flu Virus in Turkey
January 19, 2006 www.scidev.net
The bird flu virus causing an outbreak in Turkey appears to be changing,
according to researchers studying samples from infected patients there. Three
mutations have so far been found. Scientists believe two of these make it easier
for the virus to infect humans. Combined, these two mutations could also make it
easier for the virus to spread between humans. The effect of the third mutation
is unclear. Further details of all three are given in this article in Nature.
Alan Hay, director of a World Health Organization influenza laboratory in the
United Kingdom, says that the virus would probably need further mutations to
enable efficient human-to-human transmission. The full text of the article
appears in the January 19th issue of the journal Nature
Colorado Butterfly Pavilion
January 19th www.nature.com Vol 439 p 365
Entomologist Mary Ann Colley is the acting curator at the only free-standing insect zoo in the U.S. Westminster, Colorado's conservatory holds a tropical rainforest and 1,200 free-flying butterflies. The pavilion is seeking a PhD entomologist to become curator and answer visitor questions. Pavilion scientists perform lifespan and breeding studies that will help exhibitions run more effectively. There are 36,000 school visitors each year.
Zoo animals fed vodka in -30C in Russia
January 20, 2006 www.nzherald.co.nz By Andrew Osborn
MOSCOW - Animals at zoos across Russia were being given shots, or in some cases buckets, of vodka, to keep them warm yesterday as temperatures in the European part of the country plunged towards an exceptional minus 40 degrees Celsius. In the ancient town of Yaroslavl a travelling circus there said it had been forced to start giving its trio of Indian elephants vodka mixed with water in buckets as the mercury dipped. In Lipetsk, where meteorologists recorded temperatures of minus 32, the zoo's contingent of macaques was being fortified with cheap French table wine three times a day and in other zoos camels, wild boars and reindeer were being given regular shots of vodka to stave off the chill.
Anne Baker New Toledo Zoo Director
January 20, 2006 www.newsday.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ Anne Baker, over the past 13 years, has helped the Rosamond Gifford Zoo become one of the nation's top breeding zoos. And beginning April 1, she will become executive director of the Toledo Zoological Gardens in Ohio. Baker, 58, led Rosamond Gifford through a seven-year $6 million expansion and renovation project, giving the zoo a new mission focusing on environmental education. The zoo boasts one of the world's top breeding programs for Asian elephants, an endangered species. It also has successfully bred Amur tigers, red pandas and golden lion tamarins, three other endangered species. The Toledo Zoo selected Baker following a nationwide search that considered more than 125 candidates. The position pays more than $200,000 per year in salary and benefits. Baker's salary in Syracuse was about $75,000 per year, not including benefits.
National Zoo Criticized for Elephant Care
January 20, 2006 www.wjla.com
WASHINGTON (AP) - Toni, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, is being treated for arthritis in her front legs. Zoo officials have said that if her condition gets any worse, she might have to be euthanized. Joyce Poole, an animal behaviorist with the Elephant Trust, visited the National Zoo's Elephant House this month and met with zoo director John Berry. Afterward, she said the zoo is making her problems worse by putting the animal in small quarters with hard surfaces. Her statement was reported in The Washington Post. Some animal rights groups are now pushing to have Toni moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she would have more room to exercise and be on softer ground. Poole is also urging urged zoo officials to give elephants more space in a more natural environment.
Detroit Zoo's Photo Gallery
January 20, 2006 www.detnews.com By Joy Hakanson Colby
The Detroit Zoo has been picked for the North American premiere of the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (from now until April 20). Large color transparencies of wildlife in their natural habitats are displayed in light boxes that have bben installed in the Ford Education Center. Sixty photographers chosen from 20 countries are responsible for the 2005 collection. In all, there are 83 photographs selected from more than 18,000 entries. When the competition began 40 years ago in the United Kingdom, there were only 500 entries with little artistic merit. By 1981, esthetic standards were added to the judging criteria, and the emphasis was placed on pictures taken under wild and free conditions, giving the exhibit a strong educational component. The competition was opened to kids younger than 17. The exhibit is sponsored by the BBC Wildlife Magazine and Natural History Museum in London.
What's new at The Zoo
January 20, 2006 www.pensacolanewsjournal.com
The Zoo Northwest Florida recently welcomed a new baby orangutan, a hippo and new exhibits including Giant Snake Pavilion and the Wild Florida exhibit. With a 20-year master plan still in development, H. Doug Kemper Jr., the Zoo's executive director, said he is on a mission to elevate The Zoo's image to rival the best zoos in the world. The zoo now occupies 50 acres and has over 1,000 animals. The master plan will give the orangutans and other animals new exhibits to reflect their native homes. Exhibits will be rearranged into thematic designs, similar to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo, and will include areas called Australian Outback, Asian Realms and Rainforest, Kemper said. Each exhibit will be designed to help the public understand the need to conserve the wild animal populations of the world and their habitats.
Chester Zoo Will Sell Land to Revamp
January 20, 2006 news.scotsman.com By BRIAN FERGUSON
EDINBURGH Zoo is planning to sell off 12 acres of its land for housing to help fund a £58 million redevelopment. Up to 100 new homes will be built on a huge swathe of zoo property to the west of its 90-acre site under the plans. The sale is expected to generate £15m. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs the attraction, has struck a deal in principle with EDI, the development firm set up by the city council. Although the land, off Corstorphine Road, lies on green belt in the west of the city, council officials have given their backing to the proposed sell-off because they are seen as a crucial part of the zoo's blueprint for the future. David Windmill, chief executive of the zoo, said: "The sell-off of some land is vital to help fund the developments we are planning here. We will be doing some fundraising ourselves, although we'll also be applying for funding to the likes of the Scottish Executive, the National Lottery and the city council." The zoo is planned to be completely redeveloped over the next 20 years, with only the Mansion House, a listed building at the heart of the site, and its famous penguin pool expected to remain as they are now. The rest of the zoo will be organised into four enormous zones themed on different habitats - grasslands, woodlands, tropical rainforests and oceans/wetlands, with highlights expected to feature new chimp and polar bear enclosures. All will be linked by a circular roadway and each area will feature a central "node" with a shop, cafeteria and children's play area, all themed to the particular zone. The main entrance to the zoo is to be relocated to the top of the current car park, where a major new plaza is planned.
Silky Sifaka Study in Madagascar
January 20, 2006 seattletimes.nwsource.com By Scott Calvert
MAROJEJY NATIONAL PARK, Madagascar - Primatologist Erik Patel studies Propithecus candidus, the rare lemur known as the silky sifaka. Fewer than 1,000 are thought to exist, all of them in this hilly rainforest in northeast Madagascar. Patel, 35, is the planet's foremost expert on the silky sifaka. Over the past four years, he has spent 14 ½ months camping in this forest. He is back for a few weeks hoping to gather new data to elucidate how the animals communicate. The distinctive silky sifakas have fluffy white fur covering their body except for the face, which is slate-gray or pinkish. Their eyes are reddish-orange. They use their powerful legs and finger-like toes to grasp a tree trunk or branch and quickly push off to the next one, up to 10 feet away. Patel's team has documented how sifakas spend their time (resting nearly half of it, then foraging for food or playing and grooming); their home range of the study group (the equivalent of 83 football fields) and the distance they typically cover in a day (four-tenths of a mile). Scent markings left by males and females were painstakingly recorded. The result was the first documented behavior known as "totem-tree" scent marking in primates - the repeated marking of particular trees mainly by males apparently competing for female attention. Patel also made the most complete audio recordings of lemurs in the wild. They are "talkative," Patel says, and he has amassed a catalog of 600 zzuss calls alone.
USFWS Prepares for 14th CITES
January 20, 2006 www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html
The USFWS is requesting information and recommendations on species proposals, resolutions, decisions, and agenda items for consideration at the fourteenth regular meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The meeting (CoP14) is tentatively scheduled to be held June 3-15, 2007, in The Hague, Netherlands. The information will be reviewed in their attempt to determine animal and plant species should be considered as candidates for U.S. proposals to amend CITES Appendices I and II. Such amendments may concern the addition of species to Appendix I or II, the transfer of species from one Appendix to another, or the removal of species from Appendix II. We also invite you to provide us with information and recommendations on possible resolutions, decisions, and agenda items for discussion at the upcoming meeting. Copies of the agenda and the results of the last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP13) in Bangkok, Thailand, in October 2004, as well as copies of all resolutions and decisions of the Conference of the Parties currently in effect, are available from the CITES Secretariat's Web site www.cites.org. Copies of a list of species proposals adopted at CoP13 are also available from the Division of Scientific Authority ; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive; Room 750; Arlington, Virginia 22203.
Legoland's New Pirate-themed Section
January 20, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Jennifer Davies
Legoland will spend $10 million to add a pirate-themed section to its
Carlsbad amusement park.
The expansion will add four new water attractions, including two rides, and is the first move by the new owner, the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm that bought a 70 percent stake in the park and the three other Legoland properties last year for $460 million. "Pirate Shores" will be built around a 4-D movie attraction titled "Spellbreaker." It will include two new rides: Splash Battle, which will feature pirate ships equipped with water cannons that allow passengers to shoot water at other boats and spectators, and Treasure Falls, a mini log ride. There also will be two new water-play areas: Swabbies Deck, aimed at younger visitors, and Soak-N-Sail, which will look like a shipwreck.
Green Turtles Make a Comeback
20 January 2006 sciencenow.sciencemag.org By John Whitfield
All marine turtles are currently listed as endangered or critically endangered, but for species that roam worldwide and exist in distinct populations, a global listing is unhelpful, says marine biologist Annette Broderick of Exeter University, U.K. Instead, she says, local assessments are needed. She and her colleagues completed a new survey on the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) population of Ascension Island, in the South Atlantic. By counting nests on the island's beaches, the researchers estimated that there are now 11,000 to 15,000 turtles in the Ascension population, tripling the 1970's population and rising exponentially. The increase is due to the collapse of turtle hunting on the island in the 1940s, says Broderick, along with more recent protection measures in the Brazilian waters where the turtles feed. Some other populations, such as in the Caribbean, are also thriving. The findings indicate that global conservation rules for the turtle need to be reevaluated, she says, making it harder to focus conservation efforts on populations that are truly threatened. The study appears in the 5 January edition of the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.
Zoo Lecture Series
January 22, 2006 www.projo.com
Roger Williams Park Zoo has launched its annual winter Conservation Lecture Series focusing on endangered beetles and butterflies. Presentations will occur on various Sundays through the winter with special programs scheduled for the February and April school vacation weeks. The lectures are free with zoo admission, which is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for children 3 to 12. Zookeeper Lou Perrotti will talk about the zoo's efforts to save the Karner blue butterfly and the American burying beetle from extinction by raising the insects at the zoo. The zoo will celebrate Valentine's Day Feb. 12, with a lecture on reptile mating rituals. Because of mature content, the lecture is recommended for people 18 and over. Later in February, Tim French, deputy director of animal programs at the zoo, will talk about such conservation success stories as the California condor, the black-footed ferret, red wolves and bald eagles. In March, Perrotti will talk about the International Bug Club, and zookeepers will show what it takes to care for the zoo's three female African elephants. In April there will be special displays and activities for children at the zoo, along with a special Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 22.
Bristol Zoo's Animal Eden
January 22, 2006 www.timesonline.co.uk By Will Iredale
A £50m,132-acre attraction is being planned by Bristol Zoo, in an attempt to move away from the traditional British zoos and safari parks. Visitors will take jeep rides to view big cats and rhinos in an African savannah zone, or rock pythons and giant millipedes in a recreation of the Congolese jungle. Other exhibits will include a Central American swamp house, where visitors will walk through lush tropics, viewing animals such as the manatee, never before seen in Britain. Zoo officials claim it will be the first time a visitor attraction has tried to show how different animals live together in the wild rather than exhibiting them as separate species. The new "National Wildlife Conservation Park, will be built in the grounds of a country mansion north of Bristol. It will include 12 separate zones, some outdoors and others inside. Each section will be based on a particular location identified by experts sent by the zoo to scout suitable environments around the world.
January 22, 2006 www.newkerala.com
LEIPZIG Germany -- More than 1.3 million people visit the international research center called Pongoland, and experience the exotic wildlife at Leipzig zoo every year. The tropical section groups all four primate species together on three hectares, with the air temperature maintained at a constant 30 degrees Celsius. It is the biggest facility of its kind in the world. "Having bonobos, gorillas, orang-utans and chimpanzees all under one roof allows us to conduct comparative studies of these creatures," says Josep Call, the Spanish director of the zoo's Wolfgang Koehler Centre for Primate Research. It is not a laboratory in the traditional sense," says Call. "The animals can move around freely between outdoor, indoor, sleeping and observation rooms." The experiments are a welcome diversion for them and give them the opportunity to earn more food. Visitors, watching up close through windows, can see how an orang-utan sits in front of two different cups and touches his forehead. There is food under the larger cup, the other is empty. The cups are replaced, with the difference between them becoming smaller each time.
Seneca Park Elephant Baby Watch
January 22, 2006 www.democratandchronicle.com
Sometime in the next two months, an African elephant will be born at the Seneca Park Zoo, in Rochester New York. Lucky for the baby, Monroe County and the zoo have been working hard to build a new home for it, Genny C and Lilac, who will be the only three African elephants living in New York. Today, the elephants are expected to move into their new naturalistic habitat, which features an elephant barn and yard that will provide ample play space for the new baby. Since August, the zoo has been relying on the community to help fund this $4.4 million elephant exhibit. It even selected six spokeskids from around the area to help spread the word about the new elephant habitat and the fundraising campaign.
Columbus Zoo's turtles moved off-exhibit
January 22, 2006 www.ohio.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Veterinarians at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have moved two sea turtles from public view after X-rays confirmed they had been eating coins and other pieces of metal tossed at them or dropped by visitors. The animals' doctors worried the objects might cut the turtles or cause an infection. Veterinarian Gwen Myers first noticed the problem while conducting a routine exam of the turtles' droppings last week. She found nickels, pennies and a dime, as well as a nail and a key chain. Myers said visitors to the zoo sometimes don't follow the rules. "They throw bubble gum at the turtles. They throw stuff at the alligators to see if they move," Myers said. "One night, one guy dumped his whole container of popcorn into the cougar exhibit. We usually ask security to escort them off the grounds. It's a pretty simple rule: 'Don't feed the animals.'" But even visitors who accidentally drop items can cause problems for the animals, zoo officials say. "At the Indianapolis Zoo, people would drop cell phones and sunglasses and the ostriches would eat them," Columbus veterinarian Andrea Goodnight said about her former employer. John Dinon, director of animal conservation programs at the Cincinnati Zoo, said sunglasses and children's shoes are the items most frequently lost in zoo exhibits. The two sea turtles in Columbus are healthy despite eating the objects, Myers said. They have been swimming together in a deep holding tank. "We really don't want to lose these animals," Myers said.
EU Bird Flu Vaccination Plan
February 22, 2006 www.marketwatch.com
BRUSSELS (MarketWatch) -- H5N1 bird flu virus has now been confirmed in eight European countries: Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary. It has also been found in wild birds in Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Turkey. In reaction to the virus' spread, the European Union has approved plans by France and the Netherlands to vaccinate some of their poultry flocks against bird flu as the deadly virus swept across Europe. Under the plan, France will vaccinate some 900,000 geese and ducks - birds that can't easily be moved indoors - in high-risk wetland regions. Vaccination will begin immediately and last until April 1. Exports of vaccinated bird meat will be treated normally, though live vaccinated birds may not be exported. In the Netherlands, the plan may affect between 6 million and 8 million birds across the country. Dutch poultry farmers will be given the choice of either moving their poultry inside or vaccinating all commercial free-range laying hens and noncommercial flocks. Vaccinated laying hens cannot be exported outside the E.U., the European Commission said. E.U. bird flu experts and government officials agreed on the measures Wednesday after talks Tuesday reached no agreement. Countries led by Germany, Austria and Portugal have been skeptical about vaccinating birds, questioning the safety and efficiency of the medicine. Some governments also worry European consumers and international importers may shun vaccinated poultry. Thailand, Oman, Egypt, Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates have banned imports of some European poultry. Bosnia and Croatia are also reported to be banning some European poultry imports. Intervet, the animal vaccine branch of Dutch pharmaceuticals company Akzo Nobel SA (AZKOY), will supply the vaccine to France.
Bristol Zoo will build £50m wildlife park
January 23, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
The National Wildlife Conservation Park, a Bristol Zoo project, is expected to draw in crowds of more than 600,000 a year when it opens in 2011. The first £1.5m for the development has been supplied by the South West Regional Development Agency with the remainder to come from fundraising projects. Initial planning permission has been granted for the 132-acre site on the Hollywood Estate, close to the M5 motorway, which will feature an aquarium housing a live coral reef with fish and aquatic creatures from the Indian Ocean. Dr Jo Gipps, director of Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: "This is a new generation of zoological parks, where environmentalists and conservationists can meet and share best practice and where visitors can believe they are in the actual ecosystem." A spokesperson for the zoo said there were no plans to relocate to the new facility and close the Clifton site.
Zoo dolphin dies in freak accident
January 23, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA -- The Minnesota Zoo lost its 7-month-old dolphin, Harley, in a weekend accident, a zoo official said. The 5 1/2-foot-long, 120-pound male had been learning to swim between two back pools with his mother when he jumped out of the water Saturday and hit his head, according to Kevin Willis, director of biological programs at the zoo in Apple Valley, Minn. A staff member working the back pools saw Harley and his mother, Rio, swim from one pool to the other. Rio then swam back across the channel, but Harley trailed behind. Either frightened or confused, he jumped out of the water and hit his head on the deck. X-rays showed that Harley had fractured his skull.
Oregon Zoo's Wild World Tours
January 23, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
PORTLAND, Oregon - Those looking for an 'Out of Africa' experience or desiring to follow in Darwin's footsteps can explore travel opportunities at the Oregon Zoo's Wild World Tours program preview, Tuesday, January 24. The event takes place in the zoo's Skyline Room at 7:30 p.m. Oregon Zoo Keeper Amy Cutting will lead the tour to the Galapagos Islands June 1 - 12, 2006. Besides Galapagos tortoises, tour participants will also observe birds of all sizes and colors, such as the masked, red and blue-footed boobies, as well as have the opportunity to swim and snorkel among sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles and penguins. Oregon Zoo Deputy Director Mike Keele, an elephant expert who has traveled extensively in Africa, will lead the Botswana tour. The tour, which takes place November 7 - 18, 2006, is timed to take advantage of the flooding of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. Visiting the Okavango Delta in November, means we'll be there after mating season when mothers will have newborn youngsters following them around."
Pros and Cons of Hawaii Bioprospecting
January 23, 2006 www.enn.com By Paul Elias, AP
HONOLULU - Native Hawaiians hold the taro plant sacred and are now demanding that the university relinquish three patents claiming ownership to taro varieties developed by one of its scientists. It is the latest collision between indigenous people and commercial interests over so-called biological prospecting, the growing practice of scouring the globe for exotic plants, microbes and other living things with biological properties that might be commercially exploited. A United Nations University report concluded that 62 percent of all cancer drugs were created from bioprospecting discoveries. The patenting of such living things has exploded in the last few years from less than a dozen in 2000 to more than 100 last year, according to University of Hawaii researcher Stuart Donachie. Donachie, who has discovered five new bacteria on remote islands in the state, says "They could provide something new that benefits society." The venom of a deadly sea snail found off the coast of the Philippines led Elan Pharmaceuticals to develop the painkiller Prialt, which the FDA approved in 2004. The key ingredient in the breast cancer drug Taxol owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is taken from the bark of the yew tree and Wyeth's kidney transplant drug Rapamune comes from Easter Island soil. But tough ethical questions are now being raised about allowing private companies to patent and profit from Mother Nature: Who owns the living thing that yields the revenue? Are companies simply pirating local knowledge and resources from indigenous people?
Environmental, Animal Activists Indicted
January 23, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
WASHINGTON - Eleven environmental and animal rights activists have been indicted in a series of attacks in the U.S. West on targets. The indictment cited 17 incidents in Oregon, Washington state, Wyoming, Colorado and California. They included arsons or attempted arsons at U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, animal holding facilities, lumber companies and timber farms, the Vail Ski Resort and the Eugene, Oregon, police department. The defendants, based in Portland, Oregon, and acting on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, were named in a 65-count indictment that included charges of arson and destruction of an energy facility, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference. A Justice Department official said property damage from the incidents reached $100 million.
United States Ranks 28th on Environment
January 23, 2006 www.nytimes.com By FELICITY BARRINGER
WASHINGTON -- The 2006 Environmental Performance Index shows that just six nations - led by New Zealand, followed by five from Northern Europe - have achieved 85 percent or better success in meeting a set of critical environmental goals ranging from clean drinking water and low ozone levels to sustainable fisheries and low greenhouse gas emissions. Produced by Yale and Columbia Universities, the United States was ranked 28th over all, behind most of Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Chile, but ahead of Russia and South Korea. The bottom half of the rankings is largely filled with the countries of Africa and Central and South Asia. Pakistan and India both rank among the 20 lowest-scoring countries, with overall success rates of 41.1 percent and 47.7 percent, respectively.
SD Zoo's plan for avian flu
January 23, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Jeanette Steele
San Diego Zoo officials say past maladies, such as the exotic Newcastle disease three years ago, have prepared them for the arduous steps that will be needed if a virulent form of avian influenza crosses American shores. There would be vaccinations and possible quarantines of birds. Delivery drivers would be questioned about where they have been. Truck undercarriages would be sprayed with disinfectant. Zoo officials would probably even try to shoo away wild birds that could carry the deadly virus. "Ninety percent of what we plan to do if there is an influenza outbreak, we've already done for Newcastle. It wasn't easy then, and it wouldn't be easy for avian influenza. But it would be a little bit easier than having to write all those protocols again," said Donald Janssen, associate director of veterinary medicine.
Borneo Orangutan Genetic Study
January 24, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A three year genetic study by wildlife geneticists from Cardiff School of Biosciences has shown a population collapse in the Bornean orang-utan. The population has declined up to one hundred fold since the late 19th Century, coinciding with the arrival of colonial powers on the island of Borneo and accelerated timber extraction. The research is among the first to link species decline with colonial deforestation, as opposed to when humans first appeared in the region. "This is the first time that an alarming and recent human related decline of a great ape population has been demonstrated using genetic data," said Dr Benoît Goossens, Cardiff School of Biosciences. "The research used a new, innovative analysis that meant we could distinguish between population decline that happened thousands of years ago and much more recently". The researchers sampled the faeces from two hundred orang-utans in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, northern Borneo and DNA profiling was used to discover the most likely history of the population that would give rise to their genetic profiles. The findings appear in the international biology journal, PLoS Biology. The study was carried out by Cardiff School of Biosciences, together with the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project and the Univesiti Malaysia, Sabah. The research was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair's Darwin Initiative.
2005 Warmest Year Since Late 1800s
January 24, 2006 www.nasa.gov
Since the late 1800s, the five warmest years over the last century occurred in the last eight years," said James Hansen, director of NASA s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City report. They stack up as follows: the warmest was 2005, then 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Climatologists at NASA GISS use temperature data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea surface temperature since 1982, and data from ships for earlier years. Over the past 30 years, the Earth has warmed by 0.6° C or 1.08° F. Over the past 100 years, it has warmed by 0.8° C or 1.44° F. Current warmth seems to be occurring nearly everywhere at the same time and is largest at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. Over the last 50 years, the largest annual and seasonal warmings have occurred in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Most ocean areas have warmed. Because these areas are remote and far away from major cities, it is clear to climatologists that the warming is not due to the influence of pollution from urban areas.
Clouded Leopard Breeding Program
Jan 24, 2006 abcnews.go.com By Maggie Fox, Reuters
FRONT ROYAL, Virginia -- Since the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Virginia started its captive breeding program in 1978, 75 clouded leopard cubs have been born. The specialists at the center are among the few animal experts in the world who have been able to get clouded leopards to breed without literally killing one another. Fewer than 10,000 clouded leopards are believed to survive in the wild. For years the incredibly rare cats had frustrated zookeepers hoping to breed them. The males killed the females, sometimes almost instantly. Even if they could tolerate one another in a cage, they refused to breed. And they hid. The Smithsonian staff overcame those problems through dogged patience, making one change after another to reduce the animals' stress, improve their health and get them in the mood for mating. These ranged from giving them trees to climb, to varying their diet and gradually getting them used to being together.
Baby Elephant Adopted at Knysna
January 25, 2006 www.int.iol.co.za By Melanie Gosling
A baby elephant, born in the Bloemfontein Zoo last week and rejected by its mother, has found a home in the Knysna Elephant Park. On Tuesday the seven-day-old female, Ashanti, was shown to the public for the first time. Park owner Lizette Withers believes the elephant mother was too young and inexperienced to know how to raise the calf and, without a matriarchal system to guide her, she rejected Ashanti. "Ashanti's still battling, because she couldn't suckle from her mother she did not get any colostrum, which all babies need to help their immunity," Withers said. "The zoo staff were hoping she would start drinking from her mother, so they didn't give her any liquids for two days." On the third day the zoo staff tried feeding her liquids, with little success. The curator then decided to move the young animal to the Knysna Elephant Park.
Pig-tailed Macaque Cops
January 25, 2006 www.newscientist.com By Andy Coghlan
It was already well known that in groups of pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina), dominant males keep the rest in order through a form of policing. As they patrol the herd, they frequently receive peaceful "bared teeth" signals from other, subordinate monkeys, acknowledging that the dominant male is in charge. The "police" macaques often intervene to defuse scuffles before they can escalate. To find out what happens when the primate police are missing, Jessica Flack of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, US, and her colleagues temporarily removed three of four dominant males simultaneously from a captive group of 84 pigtailed macaques at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, near Lawrenceville, Georgia, US. While they were gone, group cohesion rapidly began to disintegrate. The researchers saw cliques forming and the breakdown of social networks and contact through communal activities like playing, grooming and sitting together. The amount of violence also escalated, with no one to broker the peace. The report appears in Nature (vol 439, p 426).
Reproductive Evolution Study in Bats
January 25, 2006 www.enn.com By William Kates, AP
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -A research team led by Syracuse University biologist Scott Pitnick has found that in bat species where the females are promiscuous, the males boasting the largest testicles also had the smallest brains. Conversely, where the females were faithful, the males had smaller testes and larger brains. The study offers evidence that males -- at least in some species -- make an evolutionary trade-off between intelligence and sexual prowess, said David Hoskens, a biologist at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter in England and a leading authority on bats' mating behavior. "It turns out size does matter," said Pitnick, whose findings were published in December in "Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science," an online journal. Pitnick's team looked at 334 species of bats and found a convincing contrast in testes size. In species with monogamous females, males had testes starting at 0.11 percent of their body weight and ranging up to 1.4 percent. But in species where the females had a large number of mates, Pitnick found testes ranged from 0.6 percent to 8.5 percent of the males' mass (in the Rafinesque's big-eared bat).
National Zoo Euthanizes Elephant
January 25, 2006 www.washingtonpost.com By D'Vera Cohn and Karlyn Barker
Toni, an ailing Asian elephant at the National Zoo, was euthanized this morning "following a dramatic decline in her physical condition and quality of life," zoo officials announced. Toni was 40 and increasingly hobbled by arthritis in her front legs, a condition that zoo officials said stemmed from a leg injury at another facility before she arrived at the Smithsonian Institution animal park in 1989. She was getting daily doses of ibuprofen--9,000 milligrams twice a day--and zoo officials had said that they would euthanize her if her condition worsened. Zoo officials said Toni had a good appetite and normal disposition, but continued to lose muscle mass and weight--more than 900 pounds in the past three years. In recent days, visitors saw her leaning on her trunk in an effort to support herself. Her condition declined dramatically over the weekend, they said, and the decision was made yesterday to euthanize her. The animal's failing health prompted some animal rights groups to push to have Toni sent to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee that would provide softer ground and more room for her to move around. National Zoo officials said she might not survive the trip.
AZA Director Answers Cincinnati Zoo Critics
January 25, 2006 news.enquirer.com BY KRISTIN L. VEHRS
On January 15, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran an opinion piece titled: "The Cincinnati Zoo lags in humane elephant care": the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) challenges the authors' comments and misrepresentation of the Zoo, its dedicated employees and volunteers. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden was recently accredited for the fifth time since 1978 by the AZA, which accredits only those zoos and aquariums meeting the highest standards in animal care, conservation, science and education programming. As our knowledge of animal care, veterinary practices and species-specific facts have evolved, so have our Accreditation Standards and Guidelines. A zoo or aquarium must apply for accreditation every five years in order for the facility to maintain its membership in AZA. This is by no means a "rubber stamp" process. The people of Cincinnati should feel secure in the knowledge that the animals at their Zoo receive the highest standard of care. The importance of animal care at the Zoo is exemplified by its staff of three full-time clinical veterinarians, a full-time animal nutritionist, and five Ph.D. staff scientists who conduct research leading to improved animal care, health, and welfare, as well as enhanced long-term survival in the wild. The Cincinnati Zoo staff employs 80 professional animal keepers and managers, including five full-time elephant keepers with over 92 combined years of elephant handling and care experience. The Zoo's commitment to its animals is just one reason it is considered a leader in the North American zoo community.
San Diego's Wild Animal Park
January 25, 2006 www.usatoday.com/travel By Eric Noland
ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Paw pads thrummed the hard-packed dirt like muffled thunder as the cheetah shot past. Shoulder muscles rippled beneath golden fur spotted black. It was a magnificent display of high-speed pursuit, at 70 mph. But it was the eyes that most commanded your attention. They were unblinking, penetrating, chilling ... and absolutely riveted on this cat's prey. Good thing, because we four dozen tourists were just a few feet away, lined up behind a low fence that didn't start looking puny and insubstantial until the cheetah was unhooked from its leash. It's one of the latest and more intriguing offerings of the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, a sprawling reserve of exotic creatures just east of Escondido. This is a tourist theme park, sure, overseen by the Zoological Society of San Diego, which also operates the famed San Diego Zoo. But the layout bears little resemblance to the traditional zoo setup of cages and small pens. In most cases, the animals roam wide-open areas that at least approximate their stomping grounds in the wild.
Magellanic Penguins OK with Tourists
January 26, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A study published in the latest issue of Conservation Biology examines the effects of humans on Magellanic Penguins and finds no immediate, negative effects of tourism. Although first seeing people is stressful for the penguins, habituation is rapid. The authors monitored the defensive head turns and the level of a hormone secreted in response to stress (plasma corticosterone) of penguins when encountering humans. "Head turns of penguins visited for 10 days were significantly lower than those of penguins visited for 5 days and were not significantly different than for penguins living in the [much frequented] tourist area," the authors explain. However, the authors stress that these results focus on the immediate. The consequences of the penguin's changing behavior may not become apparent until later in life. Magellanic Penguins nest in coastal colonies along the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans of South America. The penguins in the study live in the largest and most visited colony of Magellanic Penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina. More than 70,000 people now visit annually.
Shanghai Zoo to Save Wolves
January 26, 2006 www.shanghaidaily.com By Fu Yingqing
THE Shanghai Zoo hopes to be home to the largest pack of wolves in the country, in order to save the species from extinction in China. Five wolves from Xi'an, Shaanxi Province arrived in the city on Tuesday. They, and four wolves already living at the zoo, will be on public display during the Spring Festival, which starts on Sunday. The new arrivals are currently undergoing physical examinations. Several months ago, the zoo sent researchers to search for wild wolves around the country, but they couldn't find any sign of large wolf packs. The zoo plans to import several more wolves as well as breeding them, to ensure it has a pack of 20 wolves by the end of this year. Several of them will eventually be returned to the wild for more breeding. The zoo also opened a 300-square-meter wolf yard for the nine wolves.
Zoo & Aquarium Field Trips
January 26, 2006 www.ajc.com By DENNIS KELLY, JEFF SWANAGAN
Dennis Kelly, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta and Jeff Swanagan, executive director of the Georgia Aquarium. Have written a guest column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They argue that significant research data about developing good citizenship behavior and creating an environmental ethic strongly suggest that school field trips to zoos and aquaria early in life leads to better students and better citizens. Time out of the classroom is not time away from curriculum. Talented teachers integrate field experiences into their instruction in ways that expand the minds, hearts and horizons of their students. Content-based lessons coupled with laughing at a panda tumbling around or the jaw-dropping awe of seeing whale sharks allow students to have real and meaningful connections that bring the words in textbooks to life. Pressure from testing, rising fuel costs and other inhibiting factors have made field experiences a lower priority over the years. We encourage the parents and educators of Georgia to realize the power and value of these experiences.
50th Rhinoceros born at SD Wild Animal Park
January 26, 2006 www.nctimes.com
ESCONDIDO - An Indian rhinoceros calf, named Lali ("darling girl" in Hindi) , was born Dec. 3 to a first-time mother, Gari and a sire who has fathered a dozen calves at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Mother and baby spent the past eight weeks bonding in a private boma before being re-introduced to the park's 15 other Indian rhinoceroses. The Wild Animal Park has the largest population of the species in the nation and Lali is the 50th Indian rhino born at the Wild Animal Park since 1978. She now weighs about 180 pounds, but will grow to as much as 5,000 pounds when she is an adult.
Brookfleld Zoo's Fiberglass Panguin Auction
January 26, 2006 abclocal.go.com
This Sunday the Brookfield Zoo plans to hold a penguin auction. The painted, fiberglass penguins were part of the city of Hinsdale's holiday decorations. Hinsdale businesses chipped in an average of about $2,000 each to buy the fiberglass statues and to have them painted. But now that the holidays have ended they needed a new home, so they were donated to Brookfield Zoo and "On Sunday, the 27 penguins will go up for auction to the highest bidder," said Linda Crouchelli, Brookfield Zoo special events director. The zoo hopes to raise about $50,000 which will be used to make life better for those real, living penguins.
Canine cancer vaccine
January 26, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
MADISON - Since 1998, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine's oncology department has been producing an anti-cancer vaccine for dogs diagnosed with melanoma. After promising results from work done in collaboration with cancer specialists from Arizona, California, and Michigan, the school has hired a full-time technician to produce the existing vaccine. The vaccine being used now has undergone a few modifications designed to increase its anti-cancer activity. "Not all dogs with melanoma respond to this treatment," cautions Ilene Kurzman, a researcher in the veterinary medical school's oncology section. "But those that do seem to do quite well." She would like to continue working on the vaccine in the hope that this innovative anti-cancer strategy will translate into similar novel treatments in people with cancer.
Avian Flu Vaccine 100% Effective
January 26, 2006 www.eurekalert.org By Jim Swyers
PITTSBURGH - University of Pittsburgh researchers announced they have
genetically engineered an avian flu vaccine from the critical components of the
deadly H5N1 virus that completely protected mice and chickens from infection.
Because this vaccine contains a live virus, it may be more immune-activating
than avian flu vaccines prepared by traditional methods, say the researchers.
Furthermore, because it is grown in cells, it can be produced much more quickly
than traditional vaccines, making it an extremely attractive candidate for
preventing the spread of the virus in domestic livestock populations and,
potentially, in humans, according to the study, published in the Feb 15 issue of
the Journal of Virology and made available early online.
"The results of this animal trial are very promising, not only because our vaccine completely protected animals that otherwise would have died, but also because we found that one form of the vaccine stimulates several lines of immunity against H5N1," said Andrea Gambotto, M.D., assistant professor in the departments of surgery and molecular genetics and biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and lead author of the study.
Preble's Jumping Mouse is Unique Species
January 26, 2006 www.enn.com By John Heilprin, AP
WASHINGTON - According to a U.S. Geological Survey study presented Wednesday to senior Interior Department officials, the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is a distinct species. That finding contradicts research touted by Interior Secretary Gale Norton last February when she proposed removing the mouse from the government's endangered species list. Critics say it also undercuts the administration's claim that it uses the best science available in promoting fewer protections for imperiled wildlife. The previous study, which was done by a biologist since hired by Norton's department, concluded there was no genetic difference between the Preble's meadow jumping mouse and the much more common Bear Lodge meadow jumping mouse.
Nature Favors Rarer Trees
January 26, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A study of seven tropical forests around the world has revealed that nature encourages biodiversity by favoring the growth of less common trees. The landmark study, conducted by 33 ecologists from 12 countries and published in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Science, demonstrates that diversity matters and has ecological importance to tropical forests. Helene Muller-Landau, an assistant professor of ecology in the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences, is a co-author of the study, which supports previous research by her colleague David Tilman, a Regents Professor of Ecology, into the causes and value of biodiversity. "This research has the surprising finding that biodiversity in tropical rain forests and Minnesota prairies arises from the same kinds of underlying processes. It brings us a step closer to understanding the causes of the world's amazing biodiversity," Tilman said. The study was conducted on seven undisturbed forest plots, or "tropical forest observatories," maintained and studied by research institutions in Borneo, India, Malaysia, Panama, Puerto Rico and Thailand, under the coordination of the Center for Tropical Forest Science of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, based in Panama. Christopher Wills, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, was the lead author.
Iowa Zoo Expansion Plans
January 27, 2006 www.kcci.com
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Blank Park Zoo is one step closer to expanding on the south side of Des Moines. On Thursday evening, the zoo's board of directors voted unanimously to acquire land near the current zoo. Zoo organizers said it's time for the 40-year-old facility to make room for more lions, zebras and giraffes. They want to add 112 acres for the animals to roam. Organizers said the zoo has outgrown its current 22-acre sight, and zoo CEO Terry Rich wants the zoo to become a hotspot for tourism. The expansion would be paid for with a mixture of private and public funds.
California Fights Secondhand Smoke
January 27, 2006 www.nytimes.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California became the first state to declare secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant Thursday, putting tobacco fumes in the same category as diesel exhaust, arsenic and benzene because of its link to breast cancer. The unanimous decision by the state Air Resources Board relied on a September report that found a sharply increased risk of breast cancer in young women exposed to secondhand smoke. It also links drifting smoke to premature births, asthma and heart disease, as well as other cancers and numerous health problems in children. The report by scientists at California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment drew on more than 1,000 other studies of secondhand smoke and blamed the fumes for 4,000 deaths each year in California from lung cancer or heart disease alone. The most significant new finding cited by state officials is that young women exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing breast cancer between 68 percent and 120 percent. That conclusion conflicts with a 2004 report by the U.S. surgeon general. Sanford Barsky, a researcher writing on behalf of the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, told the board in previous testimony that the state report ''either ignores mentioning or does not give the appropriate weight'' to studies refuting a link between secondhand smoke and breast cancer. California Air Resources Board: www.arb.ca.gov
Virus Used to Track Cougars
January 27, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Hope Hamashige
Borrowing a method used to study human demographics, biologist Roman Biek and his colleagues took samples from 352 cougars in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and Canada They analyzed the samples for strains of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is common in big cats and does not appear to affect them. The analysis identified eight major FIV strains carried by cougars in Montana, Wyoming, British Columbia, and Alberta. These unique strains allowed the scientists to track where the cats had been and at approximately what time. One strain spread over a distance of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), while others remained relatively isolated. Results of the team's research appear in the current issue of the journal Science.
Asian Elephant Conference
January 27, 2006 www.ens-newswire.com
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - There are 13 Asian countries where wild elephants still remain with populations varying from perhaps less than 100 elephants in Vietnam to over 20,000 in India. Representatives of the states gathered for the first time in Kuala Lumpur, for a three day meeting that concluded Thursday. Convened by the government of Malaysia, the meeting was facilitated by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and its Species Survival Commission (SSC), and was chaired by Dr. Holly Dubin. The situation facing the Asian elephant is "critical," the IUCN says. Just over five percent of the original Asian elephant habitat remains today, and its population has declined over the past half century to an estimated 30,000-50,000 animals in the wild - only 10-15 percent of the African elephant population. Human-elephant conflict is now the major cause of individual elephant deaths, through indiscriminate poisoning, shooting and trapping, according to the IUCN. Meeting participants sought ways to minimize this conflict and integrate these strategies into land use to ensure the long term survival of the species. This rise has become inevitable as Asian elephants have less and less natural habitat in which to feed and roam. Just 500,000 sq km of the former Asian elephant habitat remains today - out of an original nine million sq km.
Ethiopian Red Fox Needs Protection
January 27, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
ADDIS ABABA - An endangered species of red fox found only in Ethiopia may be wiped out unless it is protected from domestic animals bringing rabies into national parks, said Kumela Wakjira, senior expert in Ethiopia's Wildlife Conservation Department. There are fewer than 500 red or simien foxes in the Horn of Africa country, most of them found in Bale Mountains National Park. He said over the past two months five out of a population of 200 red foxes had died in the park, suspected of being infected with rabies from dogs accompanying livestock to the area. "Unless the endangered species of red fox, endemic to Ethiopia, are protected, they could be wiped out due to disease which they contract from domestic animals such as dogs not vaccinated against rabies," Kumela said. He said more needed to be done to make sure the parks were properly fenced off and that farmers did not bring their animals into them.
Florida Scrub Jay Not Endangered
January 27, 2006 www.heraldtribune.com
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday that it will not reclassify the Florida Scrub Jay as endangered because there are ample numbers to survive the next 100 years. The birds are currently protected as threatened, a less stringent category. The decision disappointed nine environmental organizations that petitioned for the change after seeing the scrub jay population drop as its natural habitat turns into real estate. The scrub jays also are a classic case of growth and development versus conservation. Florida's population has grown 34 percent since 1990, and the scrub jay population has decreased by 50 percent. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 breeding pairs of scrub jays remain. In Sarasota County, the bird is declining about 6 percent each year. In the past four years, there has been a 22 percent population decline.
Where Do Zoo Animals Go When They Die?
January 27, 2006 www.slate.com By Daniel Engber
What happens to zoo animals when they die? First, a necropsy is performed, and then the remains are cremated. The carcasses of all animals that die at the National Zoo-including those that wander into the park from outside-are brought to an on-site pathology lab for thorough examination. Zoo staffers identify the cause of death (if it isn't already known) and preserve tissue samples that might be important for research or education. (The zoo maintains an archive of formalin-soaked specimens from every animal that's died there since the 1970s; the Bronx Zoo has tissue samples dating back to 1920.) In the case of the National Zoo tiger that was recently euthanized, after the necropsy, the carcass -which weighs thousands of pounds-was shipped to a lab in College Park, Md., where it will be incinerated starting Friday. The process should take about 24 hours.
Montana's Buffalo Hunting Lottery
January 27, 2006 www.nytimes.com
Scholars believe that at one point more than 30 million buffalo roamed the West. Indians revered the animal, praising its spirit in dances and séances and building their culture around buffalo. But westward expansion of the United States and an insatiable demand for bison hides led to large-scale buffalo massacres, decimating herds. By the early 1900's, Yellowstone was home to only about 30 bison, and conservationists began efforts to revive the national treasure. As the historian Andrew Isenberg has written, Teddy Roosevelt even feared that the collapse of the buffalo population would neuter American masculinity, since men could no longer hunt big game in the United States. In recent decades, the buffalo population in Yellowstone, one of the last wild buffalo herds in North America, has been restored. It numbers near 5,000, and buffalo wander out of the park in the winter to feed on grass. Montana's cattle ranchers worry that the wandering buffalo could spread brucellosis, a disease that causes cows to abort. Seeking a solution, this winter Montana authorized its first buffalo hunt in 15 years, handing out 50 licenses. In coming years, Montana may increase the number. More than 6,000 hunters, including Gov. Brian Schweitzer and over 100 from out of state, entered a lottery for the licenses.
San Diego Wild Animal Park's Baby Rhino
January 27, 2006 msnbc.msn.com By Reuters
LOS ANGELES - Lali whose name means "darling girl" in Hindi, is one
of about 2,550 Indian rhinos in the world, 150 of which are in parks and zoos.
The species is considered critically endangered because of human encroachment on
its native habitats in India and Nepal and because the rhinos have been poached
for their horns, which some believe have medicinal value.
Indian rhinos, which have one horn and large folds of skin that look like armor, are also slow to multiply because of their long, 16-month gestation period. Lali, who was born Dec. 3, weighs 180 pounds but could grow to about 5,000 pounds, Galindo said. Lali is the 16th Indian rhino at the San Diego park.stuck close to her mom but greeted other adults with curiosity during her first public outing this week.
Winnepeg Zoo's New Advertizing Campaign
January 28, 2006 winnipegsun.com
The Zoological Society of Manitoba has begun taking a hipper, edgier approach
to marketing the Assiniboine Park facility. It's also putting that stamp on
coming events to celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary. Public events
focusing on animals' sexual habits and even beer consumption are on tap as the
non-profit group strives to boost interest -- and eventually raise cash for zoo
upgrades -- among a demographic beyond families with young children. "Sex
at the zoo. Yeah, we're appealing to perhaps a little bit younger demographic
than we have in the past," Julie Eccles, the organization's general
manager, said with a laugh. The opening event of about 10 slated to run through
the fall will be Sex In the Zoo, a seminar on beastly sex rituals to be held
Valentine's Day. "We need to get lots more people into the park and younger
people supporting the zoo," Patti Sullivan, head of the city's Assiniboine
Park Enterprise, told the Sun. "It's great. It's new ideas. The lineup
includes a jogging event titled Run Wild, a pool tournament and a cocktail gala
called Stella Needs Her Stanley -- a reference to a plan to import a male
Stellar's sea eagle from Asia to join a female on site, and to build them an
enclosure that would cost up to $100,000.
In June, they'll offer Brew At the Zoo -- a beer-tasting session with entertainment that organizers expect to be priced at $30 to $40 per person.
Oakland Optimistic About Pandas
January 28, 2006 www.theepochtimes.com By Merian Kiernan
The Oakland City Zoo in California is optimistic about being the place that will receive a pair of giant pandas from China for research and display this year. Although a study developed by the Hausrath Economics Group proves that the gift makes great economic sense concerning zoo attendance, the transaction between the Beijing Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the Oakland Zoo is not yet a done deal. The local zoo's Panda Project, with the help of the Oakland China Wildlife Preservation Foundation, has raised a lot of local support from financers and businesses. Time and materials, and even designs for the panda exhibit, are being enthusiastically donated and put into place. Oakland City Councilmember Henry Chang (At-Large) stated in an Inside Bay Area news article that about $1.2 million will be raised for the project. Willie Yee, Chang's chief of staff, said that, "By the fall of this year, Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park will be all ready for the bears to come." Only four other U.S. zoos have pairs of giant pandas-San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Zoo's Pumas Draws Crowds
January 29, 2006 www.philly.com By Christopher Wink
Almost 5,000 people visited the nation's oldest zoo yesterday - 2,300 before noon. It might have been the 59 degree weather but 3 lively puma cubs were also on display in the city for the first time in a decade. The three cubs - Dakota, Sage and Cinnabar are now 5 months old. Dakota, the lone male, is described by zookeepers as "quite confident." He kept constant eye contact with his audience from behind the large glass viewing area. His sisters, Sage and Cinnabar, were more reserved, although Sage engaged Dakota in a game of tag. The three are part of the zoo's $20 million Bank of America Big Cat Falls exhibit, scheduled to open in late May. The cubs came to Philadelphia from their home in South Dakota after their mother was killed in October during a puma hunt. An estimated 16,000 pumas are in the United States, most west of the Mississippi River. There is no shortage of pumas in zoos - 123 in the United States and Canada - and the number is growing, but for the Philadelphia Zoo, the cubs are a sign of things to come. The exhibit will feature 17 big cats of six species, including Amur tigers, African lions and snow leopards. Big Cat Falls will also officially begin the zoo's contribution to two large conservation projects. The zoo has pledged $250,000 over five years to field research in Kenya for lions and in Mexico for jaguars.
Brookfield's Auction Raises $33,000
January 29, 2006 abclocal.go.com
27 fiberglass hand-painted penguins were auctioned off Sunday at the Brookfield Zoo. The 5-foot tall, 60 pound penguins were on display in neighboring Hinsdale over the holidays, and were given to the zoo to help raise money for the zoo's Living Coast exhibit, plus conservation efforts. The auction raised over $33,000.
Rebirth for Jackson Zoo
January 29, 2006 www.clarionledger.com
The Jackson Zoo, which had its beginnings in 1916, is about to be reincarnated into a brand new 21st century park with animals from Africa, South America, Asia, and the state of Mississippi opening to the public on April 8. "There is a huge diversity of things," zoo director Beth Poff says. "There's a certain sense of the neighborhood declining, but we have 24-hour security. Nothing has ever happened here." Come April, visitors will find a zoo that in many ways will be unrecognizable. The old cavelike snake house is gone, replaced by a new exhibit housing all things venomous in Mississippi, from the six poisonous snakes native to our area, to shorttail shrews and scorpions, says curator and assistant zoo director Dave Wetzel. Other parts of the huge Mississippi Wilderness exhibit include a new area for mountain lions, a waterfall, a moat and its centerpiece: the underwater habitat building so new that the beavers, the otters, the turtles, the sea snakes and the fish have yet to see their new digs. According to Wetzel, there are 776 animals in the zoo collection. The opening of the Mississippi Wilderness exhibit, says public relations manager Chris Mims, will boost that total by 300, to more than 1,000.
Scientists Find Diclofenac Substitute
January 30, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOMBAY, India (AP) -- A team of scientists reportedly have found a replacement for a cattle drug believed to have been behind the collapse of India's vulture population over the past 10-15 years. Millions of oriental white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed vultures in South Asia have died from eating cattle carcasses tainted by diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory and painkiller given to sick cows, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. India's government said in March it planned to phase out the drug, but a lack of viable alternatives has hampered the effort. In a report published Tuesday in the British journal PLoS Biology, a team of scientists from South Africa, Namibia, Britain and India said they had found that meloxicam, a drug similar to diclofenac, was as effective in treating sick cattle and posed no significant danger to the vultures, the society said. ''Even so, vulture populations are declining so fast that it could still be too late to save them unless urgent action is taken,'' said Rhys Green, a research biologist and a co-author of the report.
Oregon Zoo Euthanizes Amur Leopard
January 30, 2006 www.whitecitynews.com
PORTLAND, Oregon - Oregon Zoo veterinarians recently euthanized Andrea, the female Amur leopard, who was suffering from an aggressive form of terminal cancer. Her remains will undergo a post-mortem necropsy. "Andrea could help improve the understanding of cancer in leopards," said Gilbert Gomez, assistant curator. "Studying her remains can provide insight about this horrible disease. Through a comprehensive necropsy, we hope to discover clues on how we can improve the health and welfare of the world's few remaining Amur leopards." Andrea and her brother Frederick arrived at Oregon Zoo in April 2000 from Colorado Springs Zoo. The lifespan of an Amur leopard in captivity is normally 19 years. Native to eastern Russia, they are considered highly endangered with only about 60 to 100 left in the wild. Also known as the Manchurian or Korean leopard, the species has slowly drifted over from its original Korea habitat to China and finally to eastern Russia where zoologists say it is making a last stand. Its habitat today is usually mountainous along the Amur River valley of Siberia where habitat destruction and loss of prey species has heavily reduced its numbers.
Oregon Zoo's "Hedgehog Day"
January 30, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
It may be Groundhog day for most people but at the Oregon zoo, February 2nd is Hedgehog day, with Zoo volunteers will assisting with the hedgehog's appearance. "The groundhog is a relative newcomer to the prognosticating game," commented Bragdon. "Historically, the hedgehog was used in this centuries-old European tradition, but immigrants to North America discovered there were no hedgehogs in their new homeland. They substituted the groundhog, but being purists, we're going back to the original critter." Zoo visitors can take home their very own hedgehog. Cascade Outfitters, the zoo's gift shop, will feature hedgehog merchandise during Hedgehog Day.
Zurich Zoo's Gourmet Meals
January 30, 2006 www.mg.co.za
Pampered zoo animals in the Swiss city of Zurich gobbled up 500 tons of fresh food prepared by a dedicated gourmet chef last year, including 21 tons of meat, 714 garlic bulbs and 11 135 kiwi fruit. More traditional dishes were also on offer for the 4 000 animals, including about 155 tons of hay, nearly four tons of leeks and more than 30 tons of apples or carrots, zoo management said in a press release on Monday. The Zurich menagerie displayed a definite sweet tooth, licking up 145 liters of maple and raspberry syrup, and 250 kilo-pots of honey. About 6 000 tea bags helped with digestion and 20kg of popcorn filled the gaps. The chief glutton of 2005 was Maxi the male elephant, who ploughed through 150kg of food a day.
Marsupial Genome Sequence Data
January 30, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
The genetic code of marsupials has now been documented for the first time. An international team led by Kathy Belov from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science published an analysis of the marsupial genome in the open access journal PLoS Biology. The paper details the evolution of an important cluster of immune genes known as the MHC using available genome sequences of the gray, short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica), a marsupial found in South America. "Mapping the opossum MHC has allowed us to deduce what the MHC of ancestral mammals looked like," says Belov. "We think it contained several different types of immune genes in a single complex. These genes are no longer found in a single complex in any living animal but are scattered over various chromosomes. We have named this complex 'The Immune Supercomplex.'" Belov et al. found that while the size and complexity of the opossum MHC is closer to eutherian (placental) mammals, its organization is closer to fish and birds. "The clues we unearthed by looking at different genomes are also helping us to understand how our own intricate immune system evolved from the relatively simple immune system seen in lower vertebrates such as birds and fish," says Belov. The paper is available at (www.plosbiology.org)
Mourning Baboons Seek Comfort
January 30, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
PHILADELPHIA When a female baboon lost her closest grooming partner and daughter, to a lion, she responded in a way that would be considered very human-like: she looked to friends for support. According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, baboons physiologically respond to bereavement in ways similar to humans, with an increase in stress hormones called glucocorticoids. Baboons can lower their glucocorticoid levels through friendly social contact, expanding their social network after the loss of specific close companions. In the study, Anne Engh, a postdoctoral researcher in Penn's Department of Biology worked with Penn biologist Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth, a professor in Penn's Department of Psychology. For the last 14 years, Cheney and Seyfarth have followed a troop of more than 80 free-ranging baboons in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Their research explores the mechanisms that might be the basis of primate social relationships and how such relationships may have influenced the development of human social relationships, intelligence and language. Their findings were published in a recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences.
Philadelphia Zoo's New Conservation Officer
Jan. 30, 2006 www.philly.com By Thomas J. Brady
After 20 years at the Philadelphia Zoo, Kim Lengel is the new vice president of conservation at the zoo, she is working to "integrate conservation into everything that we do at the zoo," she said in an interview. There are many ways for the zoo's 1.2 million visitors a year to help the environment and make the planet more hospitable for the animals both inside and outside the zoo, she said. "There are simple things that are not that glamorous, such as recycling, carpooling, thinking about what kind of automobile they purchase, and getting energy-efficient appliances." Or, she added, "they could turn their backyard into a habitat that is good for wildlife, leaving a couple of piles of sticks out for animals to hide in, putting up birdhouses, or leaving out a source of water. "We see the animals at the zoo as ambassadors for us to teach about what's going on in the wild," she said. On an international level, the zoo supports projects in the wild that protect habitats and species. It even recycles cell phones, with the proceeds going to a major primate-rescue center in Vietnam. Locally, she is also working on initiatives that include persuading owners of tall buildings to participate in a Lights Out program during bird-migration season, so birds will not be drawn by the lights and fly into the buildings.
$40 Million to Rebuild Mozambique Park
January 30, 2006 www.enn.com By Mateus Chale, Reuters
MAPUTO - U.S. Internet mogul Greg Carr has committed up to $40 million of his own cash to help rebuild a game park in Mozambique which he hopes to restock with animals from elsewhere in Africa. Carr, former chairman of Prodigy Internet and Boston Technology, told Reuters on Friday he wanted Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique to recapture its place as a leading eco-tourism destination in southern Africa. The park, which lies at the southern end of Africa's Rift Valley, was largely destroyed during Mozambique's 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Carr Foundation has managed the 3,770 sq km (1,455 sq mile) park for a year under an agreement with the government, which it is seeking to extend to at least 30 years, wildlife conservationists say. Rehabilitating the park -- including construction of a 6,000 hectare (23 square mile) sanctuary where animals are expected to breed -- will be concluded by the end of rainy season in March. The Carr Foundation is in talks with animal relocation companies in Africa to source some species in Mozambique and neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, he said. "The good news is that there are a lot of animals now. We have almost 300 elephants, we do have a lot of antelope and fabulous bird life," Carr said.
Spoon-Billed Sandpipers in Bangladesh
January 30, 2006 www.enn.com By Parveen Ahmed, A.P.
DHAKA, Bangladesh - At least 11 rare spoon-billed sandpipers have been discovered along the coast of Bangladesh, scientists said Friday, raising hopes for the survival of the birds, whose population has dwindled to just 300-350 pairs in the wild. Concern rose over the fate of the small shore birds, named for their distinctive teaspoon-shaped bills, after a 2005 expedition failed to find a single bird in their traditional winter habitat along India's east coast. But the prospects of the sandpipers thriving in Bangladesh are bleak unless urgent steps are taken to protect the mudflats where they can be found, said Christoph Zockler, a German ornithologist based in Cambridge, England. "Bangladesh is highly significant as a wintering area for the spoon-billed sandpipers. But we are very concerned that the last suitable habitat for them will be destroyed over the next few years," said Zockler, speaking at a seminar in the Bangladeshi capital. An 18-member survey team of experts from Russia, Germany, Britain and Bangladesh searched Bangladesh's southern coastline from Jan. 17 to 25, finding eight of the sandpipers on a mudflat at Bangladesh's southernmost tip in the Bay of Bengal. Three more birds were spotted at two places in a southern coastal district.
3 Otter cubs at Dallas Zoo
January 30, 2006 www.dallasnews.com
Dallas Zoo officials have announced that three otters were born last Thursday. Zookeeper Nicole Garza cares for the three Asian small-clawed otter sisters, - Malais, Tien and Leakena. The otters live in the new Betty Moroney Norsworthy Otter Outpost. The two adult otters, Carol Lee and Batt, have been quite protective so far. Batt tried to hide the birth with a wall of hay. The Asian small-clawed otter - the smallest of 13 otter species - is not yet endangered but faces threats from pollution, development and hunting.
SD WAP - Up Close & Primal
January 31, 2006 www.insidebayarea.com By Eric Noland,
ESCONDIDO - One of the latest and more intriguing offerings of the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, a sprawling reserve of exotic creatures just east of Escondido, is the Cheetah Run - an up-close look at the cheetahs power and speed (70 mph). This is a tourist theme park, sure, overseen by the Zoological Society of San Diego, which also operates the famed San Diego Zoo. But the 1,800-acre layout bears little resemblance to the traditional zoo setup of cages and small pens. In most cases, the animals roam wide-open areas that at least approximate their stomping grounds in the wild. On a ride around the park on the balky Wgasa Bush Line Railway (thankfully, the decrepit, 30-year-old monorail is ticketed for replacement), visitors might peer down into the rolling hills and plains of the East Africa enclosure and observe wildebeest strolling among southern white rhinos, while Thomson's gazelles, scimitar-horned oryx, sable antelope and greater kudu - with their peculiar corkscrew horns - mingle on a slope within a few dozen yards of one another. These offerings and other special programs at the park move visitors closer to the animals, so that they can observe them in a more natural state - feeding, caring for young, establishing dominance. Standard admission ($28.50 adults, $17.50 kids) includes the monorail tour, trainer talks, giraffe feedings, and elephant and bird shows, but visitors who want to delve behind the scenes can pay extra to do so.
NC Zoo Nears Fund-Raising Goal
January 31, 2006 triad.dbusinessnews.com
ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina Zoological Society is nearing completion of a campaign to raise $6 million for the pachyderm exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo. This is the sixth straight year the zoo's fundraising arm has raised more than $3.2 million. Funds raised in pachyderm campaign will be used to create a larger elephant exhibit area and a new holding area for a larger herd of African elephants, and to retrofit the zoo's 30-acre African Plains area that has been home to antelope and birds so it can handle a herd of rhinos as well. The idea is to open the facilities in 2007 with herds that by then should number seven or more elephants, and even more rhinos, and then breed both herds until each totals 10 to 12 pachyderms.
2nd Survey for Toledo Zoo Workers?
January 31, 2006 toledoblade.com By JENNI LAIDMAN
A group that calls itself Citizens for a Responsible Toledo Zoo says the zoo needs to survey employees again and release the raw data from an employee survey taken in May. The second survey should ask employees if the zoo is on the right track, if employees feel more likely to have their concerns taken seriously, and if they are more likely to face retaliation for voicing concerns than they were a year ago, the citizen's group said. But the zoo has begun discussions with a psychologist in Bowling Green to design an employee survey for late this summer, said Mike Burns, the zoo's director of administration. The last survey came just after the resignation of the zoo's long-time executive director, William Dennler. At the time, a Citizen's Task Force appointed by the Lucas County commissioners was reviewing zoo operations in detail. Debra Reichard Klein, a citizen's group spokesman, said the first survey failed to provide true confidentiality because survey results were given to department managers. Because some zoo departments are small, it was sometimes obvious who had made critical comments. Ms. Klein is the sister of former zoo veterinarian Dr. Tim Reichard. It was Dr. Reichard's firing that started controversy at the Toledo zoo a year ago.
Interview with Beth Stevens - AZA & Disney
January 31, 2006 www.orlandosentinel.com By Scott Powers
Beth Stevens, 46, is head of Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom and just oversaw installation of the newest megaride, Expedition Everest. She explained that the park was all about animals, real, imaginary and extinct. "This really adds that imaginary piece to the park, with the yeti [Abominable Snowman]. I think you can tell from the reaction so far, it's already a great hit," she said. "The theme of the park is animals. So whether this comes out in rides like Dinosaur and Expedition Everest, or whether it comes out in rides with the live animals, like the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride, or whether it comes out in stage shows, like Festival of the Lion King, or our bird show at Caravan Stage, or whether it comes out in our characters, animals are still our central theme." In addition to running the 5,000-acre theme park that last year drew 8.2 million visitors, the Disney World vice president is internationally active in wildlife conservation and president of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. She spoke last week with staff writer Scott Powers.
Oldest zoo in Romania Modernizes
January 31, 2006 www.daily-news.ro By Dana Milea
Sibiu Zoo is to undergo an extended process of modernization this year so that by January 1 2007 it will meet all European standards both in terms of animal welfare and conditions for visitors. The budget for the renovation is 1.4 million lei. The most important part of the work involves enlarging the space for animals. "The bears for example, will have a space of 900sqm, as now they only have 24sqm. European norms say that they need at least 800sqm. A space of 1,000sqm will be built for the wolves and the same for the leopards. "Sibiu Zoo has 135 animals from 35 species and is the oldest in the country and needs a radical modernization, so that it can meet European standards by 2007. This is why we have initiated this project which will make its conditions better, improving the wellbeing of animals and of visitors," said the Sibiu mayor, Klaus Johannis.
Mate's Pregnancy Causes Weight Gain
January 31, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Scientists have now confirmed that male monkeys of two different species get heavier when their mates are pregnant. The roughly 10 percent gain in male girth occurs in common marmosets and cotton-top tamarins, both squirrel-sized primates known for their monogamous lifestyles and devotion to good parenting. Since marmoset and tamarin dads are heavily involved in infant care, they may be stocking up on pounds during pregnancy in preparation for the rigors of fatherhood, says Toni Ziegler, an endocrinologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's National Primate Research Center. Ziegler and her colleagues reported their findings today in the journal Biology Letters. The knowledge that expecting primate fathers also experience biological changes can help scientists better understand what governs human fathering behavior, Ziegler adds. "We're interested in what motivates dads to be good parents because there are so many men who just aren't good fathers. This work could help to tease apart what makes a good dad."
Elephant herd Moves to sanctuary
January 31, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By Jeff Long
Two Asian elephants began a 650-mile journey Monday from a troubled circus training farm near far north suburban Richmond to a sanctuary in Tennessee, where operators have promised them a life of ease and comfort. The 45-foot trailer carrying the elephants, Lottie and Minnie, from the Hawthorn Corp. farm is expected to arrive about noon Tuesday at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., about 80 miles southwest of Nashville. The elephants' new home sprawls across 2,700 acres, compared with roughly 20 acres at the Hawthorn farm in McHenry County, which was built in 1974 to house circus animals when they're not traveling. In 2003 the Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly. In 2004, owner John Cuneo agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for keeping his circus tigers, which perform in shows around the world. Six more of Hawthorn's pachyderms, all of them females, will follow in three trips to the Tennessee refuge during the next two weeks, Blais said. Two other Hawthorn elephants won't be headed to the sanctuary. One is male who would be too disruptive. The other, a female, is staying behind to keep the male company. When Cuneo finds a home for them, he will have satisfied his end of an agreement with the Agriculture Department.
Rare Australian Pine Endangered
January 31, 2006 www.enn.com
The Wollemi pine, often described as a living fossil, was thought to be extinct until 1994, when a park ranger stumbled upon a stand of fewer than 100 trees in a remote gorge in Wollemi National Park, 120 miles west of Sydney. Since then, the trees' location has been kept a closely guarded secret. Those authorized to visit the grove undergo strict infection control procedures that involve sterilizing their footwear and equipment. But the stand has been endangered by a fungus-like disease, Phytophthora cinnamomi, that was detected in two trees in November last year and was almost certainly introduced by an unauthorized visitor, New South Wales state environmental department spokesman John Dengate said.
Treating Malignant Melanoma in Horses
January 31, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Malignant melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer. Dr. John L. Robertson, a professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech and director of the college's Center for Comparative Oncology (CECO), has detailed some of the work he is doing with the use of Frankincense oil as a possible treatment for malignant melanoma in horses. The risk factors are similar in people and horses. In people, risk factors include pale complexion and hair, exposure to excessive sunlight and sunburns and aging. Horses at risk also have a pale coat of grey to white and there seems to be a correlation to aging, which could be a result of chronic exposure to sunlight, he said. In each, the disease is an infiltrated pigmented malignancy that is difficult to manage. Conventional therapies include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and surgery. The disease often affects horses with the development of lesions on the lips, neck, and perineal area. Robertson recently treated an 11-year old Thoroughbred diagnosed with multi-centric malignant melanoma at the age of seven. That experimental therapy involved the use of frankincense oil, a compound known as a valuable treatment for wounds for more than 2,000 years.
Chiang Mai Controversial Night Safari Opens
January 31 2006 www.bangkokpost.com By CHEEWIN SATTHA
THAILAND -- The much-criticised Chiang Mai Night Safari will be officially opened on Monday, when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will hold a mobile cabinet meeting at the 1.15-billion-baht park, zoo director Plodprasop Suraswadi said. The controversial project was originally scheduled for opening on April 13 last year, but the date was postponed several times partly because of problems involving the import of wild animals from foreign countries, including Kenya and Australia. But the Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), the zoo operator, managed a soft opening on Nov 16, presided over by Mr Thaksin. Mr Plodprasop said that since November's soft opening, which offered free admission to all visitors, about 1.4 million people have visited the zoo. The zoo, located on an 819 rai of land in Doi Suthep-Pui national park in Muang district, has been bitterly opposed by some Chiang Mai residents as well as Thai and foreign environmentalists who have said that keeping endangered wildlife in enclosures would cause the animals distress.
20 Most-Vulnerable African Carnivores
February 1, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
According to a new report released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) yesterday, African lions have disappeared from 82 percent of their historic distribution over the past several decades. The 200-page report looked at the conservation status of the 20 largest species of African carnivores and examined priorities to help ensure that they continue to exist in Africa. Each species was ranked using the best current data, and the threats that each of them faces. Populations of the lion, listed as "most vulnerable" have dropped steadily in recent decades, primarily due to conflicts with humans, destruction of habitat, and the loss of prey, according to the report. Also making the most-vulnerable list are cheetahs have vanished from 75% of their historical habitat and African wild dogs have vanished from 89% of theirs. Ethiopian wolves which have vanished from 98% of their range. Other species of concern included the leopard, spotted hyena, and golden cat, all of which suffer from the combined key threats of habitat loss and conflict with people over predation on domestic animals. By contrast, a handful of species seem to thrive among humans, including the African civet and several species of jackals. While these species also prey on livestock and poultry, their adaptability to a variety of habitats makes them less vulnerable to long-term population declines. Little was known about the conservation status of other species such as the aardwolf and honey badger and the report calls for greater research effort on these little-known carnivores.
Black-footed Ferrets Are Reproducing
February 1, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
DENVER - Wildlife officials report that the black-footed ferret is apparently reproducing across the West after nearing extinction less than three decades ago. A female ferret found in northwest Colorado last fall was identified as born in the wild because she did not have one of the embedded microchips given to animals released as part of reintroduction program, the Colorado Division of Wildlife said Monday. Once abundant across the West, ferrets began disappearing at the turn of the last century because of disease and prairie dog eradication efforts. Wildlife experts thought the ferret was extinct until a small group was found in northern Wyoming in 1981. To save the species, the last 18 ferrets were trapped between 1985 and 1987. More than 2,000 captive-born ferrets have been released in six Western states. That includes 186 in Colorado's Wolf Creek Management Area, which covers 43,000 acres in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties and was the site of last fall's discovery. Ferrets in part of the Coyote Basin study area, which is primarily in Utah, also have reproduced in the wild, said Pam Schnurr, a wildlife biologist with the Colorado agency in Grand Junction. She also said captive-born ferrets have begun to reproduce in five other Western states where they have been reintroduced.
Scientists Protect Ugandan Chimps
February 1, 2006 www.yomiuri.co.jp By Jun Sugimori Yomiuri
KAMPALA--Japanese researchers are offering ecotours and environmental education in Uganda, in an effort to protect chimpanzees living in Kalinzu Forest there. Kalinzu Forest is located on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley. It is home to 250 to 300 chimpanzees in an area of 137 square kilometers. Every Sunday, about 100 local children gather at the education center near the entrance of the forest. The children had come for Sunday reading class. The center's 200 books include animal picture books, field guides and science textbooks. In a village where most children do not have textbooks, these books are a priceless resource. The Sunday classes are held by the nonprofit organization Kalinzu Forest Project, run by a number of people including Chie Hashimoto, a Kyoto University Primate Research Institute assistant. Hashimoto and her colleagues began their research in Kalinzu Forest in 1992, revealing the different habits of chimpanzees that live in savannas and those that live in tropical forests. In savannas, a few male chimpanzees lead a cartload, but in the forest, a cartload has equal numbers of males and females. They also offer ecotours. The ecotour is a one-week trip to observe chimpanzees, accompanied by a researcher. Participants learn the habits of chimpanzees by noting the primates' behavior or sifting through accumulated data. The tour also includes a lecture on banana cuisine, which has been very popular. Six kinds of primates, including chimpanzees, live in the forest. It is also home to 377 kinds of birds, 362 kinds of butterflies, and 414 kinds of plants.
Zoo's Fishing cat dies after eating toy
February 1, 2006 www.lsj.com
Surgeons removed about 25 pieces of a suspected rubber football ball found in the Potter zoo's fishing cat's stomach Jan. 9. A second surgery was done about two weeks later to remove part of the cat's intestine - which had been damaged from the effects of the ball - but she never fully recovered and died Saturday. The animal - who arrived at the zoo in 1999 - was just short of 7 years old. Zoo officials theorize a visitor either left the ball next to the cat's enclosed cage or pushed it through the wires deliberately. She urged visitors to let zoo officials know immediately if they accidentally drop something into a cage. The cat was scheduled to become part of the Cincinnati Zoo's breeding program this month.
Orangutan Gene Study
February 1, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Amitabh Avasthi
Human activity is directly responsible for the rapid, large-scale
decline of orangutan populations in parts of Asia, according to a new
gene study. "It is clear that the remaining population of orangutans [in the Malaysian region of Sabah] is a very small fraction of what originally existed," said Benoit Goossens, a study co-author and wildlife geneticist at Cardiff University in Wales. "If the decline continues at the same speed, the population will be extinct within a few decades." The genetic structure of most species contains records of population fluctuations tied to eons of climate change and other factors. This makes it hard to flesh out a more recent record of decline or increase. Goossens and his colleagues sampled DNA from the hair and feces of 200 wild orangutans in Malaysia's Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. The scientists found a pattern of genetic variation typical of decreasing populations. Results indicate that orangutan populations have declined by more than 95 percent, and most of the decline likely took place recently."As it happens, we know that the forest exploitation started about a century ago in 1890 and that it accelerated in the 1970s," The findings are published this week in the journal PLoS Biology.
Virginia Zoo Receives $7 M Donation
February 2, 2006 home.hamptonroads.com
NORFOLK -- Frank Batten Sr., a local media executive and philanthropist will be making one of the largest single gifts to a municipal project in the city's history to the Virginia Zoo, city spokesman Charlie Hartig said this morning. The $7 million challenge grant will be coupled with $6.2 million from the city and another $1 million in private donations. It will be used to help finance the zoo's $18 million master plan.
Kansas Zoo finishes 2005 in the Black
February 2, 2006 www.kansascity.com By John Schultz
The Kansas City Zoo finished 2005 in the black for the second straight year, the zoo announced Wednesday. About 429,000 attended the zoo last year, falling just short of the projected 430,000. But attendance for January - thanks in no small part to the weather - was particularly robust. About 4,560 attended, for an 800 percent increase over last January. The Zoo has several construction projects ongoing, including an interactive Discovery Barn and a new playhouse for children.
Bronx Zoo's John Behler dies
February 2, 2006 www.nydailynews.com
John Behler, curator of the Bronx Zoo herpetology department since 1976, was a leader in the development of captive breeding programs for endangered and threatened crocodilians, tortoises and freshwater turtles. He had done studies of the tortoises of Madagascar and of North American spotted and bog turtles. He wrote more than 40 scientific articles and five guidebooks and co-authored "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors," with his wife, Deborah Behler. He died Tuesday at age 62.
Indianapolis Zoo's Dolphin Videos
February 2, 2006 www.insideindianabusiness.com
The series of Dolphin Adventure videos produced by Creative Street for the Indianapolis Zoo's New Dolphin Adventure won both a Gold World Medal at the New York Film Festival in the Nature & Wildlife category, and a Golden Eagle from The CINE Golden Eagle Film and Video Competitions. Now approaching its 50th anniversary, the Film & Video Awards sees entries from over 30 countries around the world. A Gold World Medal, won by the Indianapolis Zoo and Creative Street, is one of the very top awards in the entire competition. "The videos produced by Creative Street for our new Dolphin Adventure are proving to be remarkable tools that are empowering our visitors to start conversations about dolphins and our natural world, "reports Michael Crowther, President & CEO of The Indianapolis Zoo. "These remarkable videos about these remarkable animals compliment our mission to inspire local and global communities to celebrate, protect, and preserve our natural world through conservation, education, and research, and by providing an enriching and wondrous environment for our visitors and the animals in our care." The videos play on flat screen monitors visible as Zoo visitors enter and exit the Underwater Dolphin Dome - the world's first underwater dolphin viewing experience.
Roti Island snake-necked turtle threatened
February 2, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A new report released today finds that the illegal trade in the Roti Island snake-necked turtle, found only on one island in Indonesia, has left it all but extinct in the wild. Exotic pet enthusiasts in Europe, North America and East Asia are fueling the illegal trade for the turtle, often without realizing that they are contributing to its demise. No legal trade of this species has been allowed since 2001. The report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN, "Trade of the Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle Chelodina mccordi," can be found in English and Bahasa Indonesian at www.traffic.org . WWF has worked for decades to stem the illegal trade in wildlife which is the second largest illegal trade in the world, next to drugs, and a major driver of the decline in wildlife worldwide.
New MIT Fish Sensor
February 2, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Researchers at MIT have found a new way of looking beneath the ocean surface that could help definitively determine whether fish populations are shrinking. A remote sensor system developed by Associate Professor Nicholas Makris of mechanical engineering, along with others at MIT, Northeastern University and the Naval Research Laboratory, allows scientists to track enormous fish populations, or shoals, as well as small schools, over a 10,000-square-kilometer area - a vast improvement over conventional technology that can survey only about 100 square meters at a time. The new sensor system, described in the Feb. 3 issue of Science, could allow government agencies to figure out what's really happening to fish populations, which many environmentalists and scientists believe are in rapid decline. Current surveying methods depend on highly localized observations taken from slow-moving research vessels, which provide only a small amount of data about a large shoal, Makris said. "It would be like watching 'Casablanca' and you're seeing one pixel moving across the screen, and that's all you get. You can't figure out what's going on, it's way too slow," he said.
Pesticide combinations imperil frogs
February 2, 2006 www.berkeley.edu By Robert Sanders
BERKELEY - The pesticide brew in many ponds bordering Midwestern cornfields is not only affecting the sexual development of frogs, but is making them more prone to deadly bacterial meningitis, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists. These physiological effects combine with environmental disruptions to make the life of a frog seem like something out of a horror movie and are likely among the factors causing a decline in amphibian populations worldwide, the researchers said. "If you look at one of these frogs, it's probably a hermaphrodite - plus, it metamorphoses late, which means it is subject to its pool drying up before it can become a frog," said lead researcher Tyrone Hayes, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. "It's also smaller, if it metamorphoses at all, which increases the likelihood it will be eaten and decreases its ability to eat. Plus, it's immuno-suppressed, so more prone to die from infection." The stress on the frogs is increasing stress hormone levels, he found, which in turn create holes in the thymus gland that likely cause the impaired immune response. "It's not the pesticides alone or introduced predators or ultraviolet light or global warming that's causing this decline, but the interaction between these on an animal that is pretty sensitive to its environment," said Hayes. In the new paper, published online last week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Hayes and his colleagues report four years of experiments showing that, while some of the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides used on corn fields may not by themselves have a noticeable impact on frogs, in combination they create significant effects. Among these are delayed maturation - the tadpoles take longer to metamorphose into frogs - retarded growth and an increased susceptibility to meningitis caused by normally benign bacteria.
Honolulu's Rusti and Violet Meet Visitors
February 4, 2006 www.honoluluadvertiser.com By Robbie Dingeman
When Rusti met Violet, the big orangutan spat in her face. Being an
assertive female, she spat right back. "It's been love ever since,"
said zookeeper Malia Davis. The apes have spent the past few days
mingling in the big, privately funded $700,000 display. Today is the
first time the two will be on public display. After a lifetime in captivity -
mostly spent in concrete and chain link - Rusti is enjoying the grass, and sky
and cruising in a series of hammocks woven from fire hoses. The new enclosure is 20 times
bigger than the old cage. Violet moved from the San Diego Zoo in December to become Rusti's companion in the big new digs. She was in quarantine for the first month, then the two were getting acquainted gradually. Davis - who has helped care for Rusti for more than nine years - fed the two apes frozen strawberries while they charmed their way through their latest photo opportunity at the zoo yesterday afternoon. At one point, Rusti just sat and watched Violet as she finished her snack. "He's totally enamored of her," Davis said.
Fort Worth Zoo Raises Entrance Fee
February 5, 2006 www.dfw.com By CHRIS VAUGHN
FORT WORTH - Hit by increasing fuel, utility and insurance costs, the Fort Worth Zoo is raising its prices 75 cents for every visitor beginning Monday. This is the first increase since February 2004, when prices also went up 75 cents. Prices are now $10.50 for adults, $8 for children ages 3 to 12, $7 for seniors 60 and older and free for children 2 and younger. Parking remains $5 per vehicle. For regular zoogoers, the annual membership is a better financial option. A membership for two adults and two children costs $122.50. In the past two years, the zoo's liability and workers' compensation insurance has gone up 13 percent, utility costs have risen 18 percent and fuel costs have increased, said Zoo Director Michael Fouraker said. The Fort Worth Zoo, which attracts an average of 1 million visitors a year, is the most expensive in the state, with ticket prices $2 to $3 more than at the zoos in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. But Fouraker said the Zagat survey lists the Fort Worth Zoo as sixth-best in the nation, in the company of the world-famous Bronx and San Diego zoos.
San Antonio Zoo raises price by $1
February 5, 2006 www.mysanantonio.com
The San Antonio Zoo is increasing admission $1 starting Monday. Admission will be $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 11, but children under 2 still can enter for free. The zoo also has started Toddler Twosdays on the first Tuesday of each month through April. Complimentary tickets for one adult and up to two children ages 4 and younger will be offered. The special is made possible by a grant from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation.
Thai Elephants Will Go To Australia
February 6, 2006 www.heraldsun.news.com.au
Eight Asian elephants ranging from 5 to 13 years of age, have been
held for 16 months at a Thai quarantine center awaiting Austrailian
importation permits. Last July, Environment Minister, Ian Campbell
approved entry of the elephants who were raised in Thai camps, for
the zoo's breeding and conservation programs. But animal welfare
groups were successful in having the decision reviewed by the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal confirmed yesterday
that permits will be issued, with five going to Taronga Zoo's $40-million exhibit and three to Melbourne's $13.5 million Trail of the
Elephants enclosure. Zoo. The AAT set 22 conditions for the
importation to Taronga Zoo and 18 conditions for the importation to
Melbourne Zoo. These include regular walks for the animals at
Taronga and, if this is not possible for an extended period of time,
the implementation of a contingency plan. However, the AAT ruled
that the elephants should be transferred to Western Plains Zoo at
Dubbo if the contingencies "have not been able to achieve the desired
outcome". Both zoos must also test different natural bedding material for
animals over 12 months before deciding on a final bedding material in
consultation with relevant experts. Both zoos were told to install
two-metre-high outdoor earth mounds for the elephants to sleep on, two 24-square-metre mud wallows, and full-time closed circuit
television monitoring in the enclosures. After a further quarantine on the Cocos Islands, the eight young pachyderms are expected to arrive in the second half of the year.
Zoo planners likely to be OK'd for conference
February 6, 2006 www.lodinews.com By Roman Gokhman
Micke Grove is up for re-accreditation by the AZA at the end of
March. If the zoo is not accredited, it would stand to lose hundreds
of thousands of dollars in federal grants and the ability to house some endangered species, said zoo Director Ken Nieland. Last year the zoo's accreditation was rescheduled when the AZA accrediting committee visited Micke Grove and recommended the county make several changes. The committee was concerned that the zoo and the county were under-funded. The report said the county should transfer operations of the zoo to a non-governmental agency. They also asked the zoo staff to at least one zookeeper or veterinarian and to modernize its veterinary clinic - which the county has recently approved; and to improve the east end of the zoo and its sea lion exhibit - which is in the works right now.
Phoenix Zoo's Baby Orang
February 6, 2006 www.azcentral.com
Bess, the Phoenix Zoo's 26-year old Bornean orangutan gave birth to her first infant on January 27th and although the sex has not yet been determined, Bess is bonding with her offspring. The father is an 18-year-old orangutan that came from Utah's Hogle Zoo in October 2000. This is the first orangutan birth at the zoo in 11 years. Beginning last fall, Wagner and other keepers began preparing Bess for motherhood, encouraging her to cuddle a toy orangutan and put it to her breast. The lessons were a backup plan. Bess had observed her own mother care for two infants, and probably knew what to do. Bess went into labor about 4:30 p.m. Jan. 27, according to her keeper Denise Wagner, and was brought into an indoor cage away from public view. There appeared to be no hard contractions, and labor lasted about three hours. "It was amazing. I saw her push really hard, then I heard a fluid sound, then another fluid sound and then I heard a baby cry."
Edinburgh Zoo's Chimp Study
February 6, 2006 news.scotsman.com By GARETH EDWARDS
The chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest in Uganda are under constant
threat from deforestation and trapping and are often killed by villagers trying to trap other wild animals. It is hoped that a study
comparing the behaviour of the animals in the wild with those in
captivity at Edinburgh Zoo will shed light on human-chimp interaction
and allow researchers to determine what crops will not be of interest
to the chimps and what areas of the forest the chimps are likely to
use, so traps will not be set there. These snares designed to catch
small antelopes and wild pigs for food, can cause serious, even fatal
injuries to chimps.
David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of
Scotland (RZSS), who has studied the chimps in the wild, plans to
compare and contrast such things as vocalisation, social interaction
and diet between the two groups over the next three years. The work
continues a study on language carried out last year by Katie Slocombe, of St Andrews University, between the captive chimps and
the Sonso chimp community in the Budongo Forest.
Zoo staff complain of bullying
February 6, 2006 www.theage.com.au By Melissa Fyfe
STAFF at Victoria's three zoos have had anti-bullying training after a survey found many felt "harassed, discriminated against or bullied in their job". Human resources consultants PeopleSuite recommended the training after its survey of staff found low morale, particularly at the Healesville and Melbourne zoos. PeopleSuite reported: 14,000 words or comments made in the survey suggested conflict between long-term employees and managers over the zoos' direction. There was scope for conflict due to the passion about working in a zoo, but this did not dilute the "potentially serious nature" of the responses. A majority of staff would not recommend Zoos Victoria as a good place to work. A majority of staff did not agree that changes at Zoos Victoria "are helping us become more successful". The zoos did not match a benchmark for encouraging "creative thinking and innovation". Compared with staff at Melbourne and Healesville, those at Werribee Open Range Zoo were contented, the survey found.
'Lemurs of Madagascar' book
February 6, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Antananarivo, Madagascar (February 6, 2006) -- Conservation
International (CI) has released the new edition of "Lemurs of
Madagascar", a detailed guidebook. Written by a team including CI President Russell A. Mittermeier and Malagasy primatologists Jonah Ratsimbazafy and Rodin Rasoloarison, the book updates a first edition published in 1994 with subsequent research and genetic studies on lemurs that identified 10 new species and reclassified nine others as separate species. The guide is useful for the scientific community, students at both the high school and university level, and tourists interested in Madagascar. Filled with detailed information, photos and illustrations, the handbook is easy to carry and use, helping readers identify the 71 species of lemurs that live on the island.
Shark's electrosensory power
Feb 6 2006 www.eurekalert.org
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Sharks are known for their ability to detect
electrical signals while hunting and navigating. Now researchers have
traced the origin of those electrosensory powers to the same type of
embryonic cells that gives rise to many head and facial features in
humans. The discovery, is reported by University of Florida
scientists in the current edition of Evolution & Development. The
neural crest cells, which are common in vertebrate development, are
identified as a source of sharks' electrical ESP. It also reinforces
the idea that before our early ancestors emerged from the sea, they
too had the ability to detect electric fields.
"Sharks have a network of electrosensory cells that allows them to hunt by detecting electrical signals generated by prey," said Martin Cohn, a developmental biologist with the departments of zoology and anatomy and cell biology, and the UF Genetics Institute. "They can sense electricity generated by a muscle twitch, even if it's the weak signal of a flounder buried under sand."
Toxin Levels Tested in Bald Eagles
February 6, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Maine (AP) -- A USFWS research project is testing the livers of
deceased eagles. ''The liver is the organ that filters out a lot of
the contaminants in the bird's body, and the idea is to take the liver out of the bird ... to gather information,'' said biologist
Steve Mierzykowski. Bald eagle populations have rebounded in Maine and across the United States over the past 30 years to the point where the bird likely will be removed from the federal endangered species list later this year. Maine now has 385 nesting pairs of eagles, up from less than two dozen three decades ago when DDT and other chemicals nearly drove the species to extinction.
Mierzykowski's research group is in the first year of a three-year project to test the livers of 15 eagles a year. A lab will measure
levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, dioxins, pesticides such as DDT, as well as mercury and other heavy metals. The results will be compared with earlier contamination studies and analyses of Maine eagle eggs that never hatched to gain a better glimpse of eagle health.
Ten Dead Irrawady Dolphins
February 6, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Ten dead Irrawaddy dolphins have been found in Cambodia's Mekong river, eight of them calves, pushing one of the rarest cetaceans nearer extinction, the environmental group WWF International said on Friday. The deaths mean a 10 percent drop in the number of Irrawaddy dolphins living in the Mekong, previously thought to be between 80 and 100. They are restricted to a 190km (115 mile) stretch of the river in the Cambodia/Laos border area. There are believed to be about 1,000 of the dolphins worldwide, other groups being found in Thai coastal estuaries and a few other freshwater locations in Asia. "This is terrible news, making a serious situation even more critical," said Robert Mather, Senior Conservation Policy Manager of WWF's Greater Mekong Programme. "This time of year commonly sees a peak in dolphin deaths, but 10 in the last two months is particularly high and ... none have been reported since May 2005," he said. The WWF said that at least one of the dolphins drowned after becoming entangled in fishing gillnets, the biggest threat to the Mekong population. But other factors such as pollution may be responsible as eight of the 10 dead dolphins were calves, it said. "This trend (calves dying) has been seen for a number of years and is suspected to be due to some form of environmental pollution. However, ongoing tissue samples and chemical analysis have yet to reveal the cause," the WWF said.
Elephant dies of Hemovroahagic Septicena
February 06, 2006 news.webindia123.com
A three-year-one month old Elephant 'Vajra' died of Hemovroahagic Septicema in Sakare Bylu Elephant Camp, near Shimoga in Karnataka last night. Deputy Conservator of Forest S A N Karkikar said that the elephants was suffering from the disease since last Saturday and died despite treatment by Veterinary doctor Dr Kolappa. Post mortem was done today and the elephant was buried. Mr Karkikar said that in August 'Surya' had died of the same disease. It was suspected that the disease might have spread due to domestic animals straying into the camp and Health Department was asked to take steps to prevent the animals from entering the Camp but it was heard.
Deadly fungus threatens beloved Panamanian frog
06 Feb 2006 www.alertnet.org By Mike Power
PANAMA CITY, Feb 6 (Reuters) - A deadly fungus has invaded Panama, killing hundreds of thousands of amphibians and putting the country's national symbol, the golden frog, at risk of extinction, scientists say. "I would say that the golden frog was already in critical danger, however, the advance of the fungus outbreak makes matters worse to a point that this species is likely to become extinct," said Roberto Ibanez, an amphibian expert at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. According to a report published by Southern Illinois University on Monday, the mold grows over the animals' skin, sealing it up and effectively choking them to death. "Many frogs use their skin as we use our lungs. If it gets blocked up, they die," said zoologist Karen Lips at Southern Illinois. A separate study published last month in the science journal Nature cited global warming as a probable cause for the proliferation of the fungus.
Pygmy Ota Benga at Bronx zoo
February 06, 2006 www.post-gazette.com By Cynthia Crossen
For a few yards of cloth and some salt, Samuel Verner, an American missionary and explorer, bought a young man named Ota Benga in the Belgian Congo in 1903. Ota Benga was a Pygmy who had been enslaved by another tribe. Mr. Verner was working under a contract to the St. Louis World's Fair, and was supposed to bring several Pygmies to America for a living display of the stages of evolution, and then return them to Africa. Three years later, with the World's Fair over and Mr. Verner in financial straits, Ota Benga was placed in a new home: the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo. The story is a sad example of the kinds of blunders that occurred at a time when the theory of Darwinism was rationalizing the evolution of humanity. To the thousands of spectators in St. Louis in the summer of 1904, the Department of Anthropology's exhibits of Pygmies, American Indians, Filipinos and Asians living in reconstructed huts and villages seemed to prove that man had indeed ascended from savages to masters of civilization.
Bronx Zoo's Elephant Plan
February 7, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JOSEPH BERGER
The Bronx Zoo, the only zoo left in the city that keeps elephants, has announced plans to shut down its exhibit after the death of two of its three elephants, or even one. The zoo's three elephants - Patty, Maxine and Happy - are in their mid-30's and could live for decades more. But if one elephant dies, the remaining two may not get along. And if two die, officials say it would be inhumane to sustain an exhibit with a single elephant. Facilities in San Francisco, Detroit, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Lincoln Park in Chicago have either closed their elephant exhibits or decided to phase them out. The Philadelphia Zoo's board, citing financial reasons, has abandoned plans to build a $22 million, 2.5-acre savanna for its four elephants, and is deciding what to do about a current corral that critics have called cramped, said Andrew Baker, senior vice president for animal programs. In New York, the Central Park and Prospect Park Zoos stopped exhibiting elephants in the 1980's.
10 Sharks Die in Pittsburgh Aquarium
February 7, 2006 www.wpxi.com
Human error resulted in the deaths of 10 black-tip reef sharks at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Investigators said ozone was accidentally introduced to the shark tank Saturday afternoon after the Zoo closed. 34,000 litres/7,500 gallons of Aquarium water is routinely changed with purified seawater stored in a holding tank. The polluted water is stored in a holding tank and treating it with ozone, a potent oxidising agent which can oxidise organic wastes and kill pathogens. Ordinarily, the ozone is added and then left to naturally dissipate for several days before it is returned to the tank. However, the water returned to the tank on Saturday still contained residual levels of ozone which caused problems for the resident fish. The aquarium staff quickly donned wet suits and dove into the tank to try and help the poisoned fishes. Black-tip sharks swim near the top of the water. Officials said other fish in the tank survived because they were in deeper water.
Striped possum birth date pinpointed
February 7, 2006 www.fortwayne.com By Kevin Kilbane
AUSTRALIA -- The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has made history according to Cheryl Piropato, zoo education director. Zookeepers in the Australian Adventure area have been regularly checking the pouch of their striped possum Alkira. They found nothing in Alkira's pouch Sept. 27, Piropato said, but discovered a newborn there when they checked Sept. 29. Researchers often have trouble pinpointing the exact birth date of marsupials because they don't often see the tiny babies crawl into their mother's pouch. Zoo officials believe this is the first time the birth of a rare striped possum has been pinpointed. The newborn striped possum was only 1/2 -inch long when zookeepers discovered it. It is now about 3 1/2 inches long, and expected to emerge from its mother's pouch for the first time in the next week or so. Zoologist Elaine Kirchner and her Australian Adventure staff have checked and photographed the baby all through its time in the pouch, giving scientists and zoo staffs their first glimpse of that growth process. The new arrival marks the second birth of a striped possum at the zoo in a little more than a year.
Tarantulas Taken to Singapore Zoo
February 7, 2006 www.int.iol.co.za
Singapore - Seven tarantula spiders abandoned in plastic bags by a curb were taken to the Singapore Zoo while experts sought to identify their species. At least two are suspected to be the highly endangered Mexican Red Knees. It is illegal to keep wild or endangered species as pets in the city-state.Legislation currently awaiting presidential approval will hike the fine for those who possess or trade in endangered animals from a maximum of 5 000 Singapore dollars (about R18 000) to 50 000 Singapore dollars for each creature. Twenty-one animals were surrendered or confiscated by AVA officials last month, compared to 12 in the corresponding month of 2005.
Smoking Ban for San Diego Beaches & Parks
February 7, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Terry Rodgers
San Diego Councilman Jim Madaffer and Council President Scott Peters
yesterday proposed an ordinance to prohibit smoking in the city's
38,918 acres of parks and on 17 miles of beaches. Smoking bans for
various outdoor areas have become more common statewide. Cities that
have adopted laws establishing smoke-free parks and beaches include
Solana Beach, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, San Francisco, Santa
Cruz and Santa Monica. Smoking is prohibited on most school campuses
and at hospital sites, as well as in stadiums such as Qualcomm and
Petco Park. It's also banned within 25 feet of children's play areas
or within 20 feet of an entrance or exit to any state, county or city
building. Yesterday's proposed ordinance would help curb cigarette-
butt litter, reduce fire hazards and promote a health-conscious lifestyle, Madaffer said. His goal is for San Diego to enact the
ordinance in time for summer. Grants or private donations might help offset the cost of putting up signs to notify the public about the ban, he said.
Study of Introduced foxes
February 7, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
In an extensive study, researchers from the University of Montana,
University of California - Santa Cruz, and the University of
California - Davis have shown that a top predator strongly affected plants and animals at the bottom of an island food web by eating
organisms that transport nutrients between ecosystems. In many cases, a small island with a large perimeter touching the sea
receives more nutrients from marine ecosystems than a large island due to the differences in surface-to-area ratios. In a new study by John Maron, James Estes, Donald Croll, Eric Danner, Sarah Elmendorf, and Stacey Bucklelew, scientists have discovered that the introduction of a top predator has even affected this system. "Our results show that the ecological effects of fox introductions
extended well beyond the direct reductions of bird populations. We have clear evidence that foxes influence the terrestrial plant
community and ecosystem dynamics through one particular route," state the researchers in their study. "An introduced predator alters Aleutian island plant communities by thwarting nutrient subsidies," is published in the February issue of Ecological Monographs.
New species Discovered in New Guinea
February 7, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Washington, D.C. - In December 2005, a team of U.S., Indonesian, and
Australian scientists led by Conservation International explored one
of Asia's most isolated jungles in the Foja Mountains of western New
Guinea. They found dozens of new species including frogs,
butterflies, plants, and an orange-faced honeyeater, the first new
bird from the island of New Guinea in more than 60 years. The team
captured the first photos ever seen of exotic birds such as a male Berlepsch's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise (Parotia berlepschi). It also
found a new large mammal for Indonesia - the Golden-mantled Tree
Kangaroo (Dendrolagus pulcherrimus), formerly known from only a
single mountain in neighboring Papua New Guinea. The discoveries
solved one major ornithological mystery - the location of the
homeland of Berlepsch's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise. First described
in the late 19th century through specimens collected by indigenous
hunters from an unknown location on New Guinea, the species had been
the focus of several subsequent expeditions that failed to find it.
"Lost World" Found in Indonesia
February 7, 2006 www.nationalgeographic.com By Stefan Lovgren
Last December, Bruce Beehler, a bird expert with Conservation
International, co-led a wildlife expedition into the isolated Foja
Mountains on the tropical South Pacific island of New Guinea. During a 15-day stay at a camp they had cut out of the jungle, the
conservationists found a trove of animals never before documented, from a new species of the honeyeater bird to more than 20 new species of frogs. The team spent nearly a month in the Foja Mountains on the western side of New Guinea, the part belonging to Indonesia. They used the lowland village of Kwerba (population: 200) as a base from which to survey area wildlife and plants. From Kwerba, one part of the team ventured by foot up the mountains. Another group helicoptered to a boggy lakebed near the range's high point. Within minutes of landing, the scientists encountered a bizarre, orange-faced honeyeater bird - a new bird species, the first discovered in New Guinea since 1939. On the second day the lakebed group witnessed a male and female Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise came into the camp to perform a mating dance. Photos can be found at:
New Western New Guinea Species
February 7, 2006 www.nytimes.com By Cornelia Dean
The group discovered what they described as evidence of dozens of previously unreported plants and animals. Their finds included more than 20 new frogs, 4 butterflies and a number of plants, including 5 new palms and rhododendrons with the largest flowers on record. Dr. Beehler did not discover a new bird of paradise. But he did discover what he thinks is a new bird species, a honeyeater. And the expedition found the breeding ground of a species of bird of paradise that had been collected more than 100 years ago. Over all, Dr. Beehler said, the RAP team, also led by Stephen Richards of the South Australia Museum in Adelaide, counted 215 species of birds in the mountains, in the Mamberamo Basin on New Guinea's north coast. A slide show of the new species can be accessed from: www.nytimes.com/2006/02/07/science/07spec.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Auckland zoo staffing shortage
8 Feb 2006 www.radionz.co.nz
There are concerns a shortage of experienced staff at the Auckland Zoo could stall important projects. The zoo is yet to find someone to manage its reptiles and birds despite a 18-month search. The zoo's curator, Maria Finnigan, says the shortage is putting pressure on resources. She says staff have been forced to carry the extra workload, meaning they have less time to devote to their own areas of expertise. Ms Finnigan says the zoo needs people who are experienced in setting up aviaries and displays, and breeding reptiles and birds.
Porcupine Born at National Zoo
February 8, 2006 www.wtopnews.com
WASHINGTON -- A prehensile-tailed porcupine gave birth to a baby early Wednesday morning at the zoo's Small Mammal House. The baby porcupine, also known as a porcupette, was born in the early hours before zookeepers arrived to work. Veterinarians say the porcupette seems healthy, but were unable to determine its gender because porcupine sexual organs are internal. Zoo scientists plan to test DNA from the baby's quills to find out. When born, the baby prehensile-tailed porcupine's fur is rusty orange, unlike the adults' dark brown and black fur. The babies are born with quills, but the quills are soft during delivery and harden in less than an hour. This porcupette is the fourth prehensile-tailed porcupine at the National Zoo and will be on display -- along with its mother, father and older sister -- at the Small Mammal House.
26th European Conference on Telemetry
February 8, 2006 www.presseagentor.com
Delegates from across Europe, Canada, the USA, Brazil, India and China will be providing information on the innovations and the latest technological developments in the areas of telemetry, telecontrol, instrumentation and recording technologies at the 26th European Telemetry Conference from May 2-5, 2006 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. One of the highlights of this year's congress is biotelemetry. Numerous lectures will be covering new telemetry applications for improved medical treatment and for zoo and wildlife research. Topics include: A prototype of a GPS device that makes it possible to use raw signal measurements to analyze the highly dynamic soaring maneuvers of Albatrosses; Radar studies of birds, and applications of harmonic radar and vertical-looking radar for entomology and a medical telerehabilitation facility allowing rehabilitation at home, including remote monitoring of patient performance and physiological parameters. For further information, please go to www.aktm.org.
Petting Zoo Signage
February 8, 2006 news.tbo.com By SUSAN HEMMINGWAY JOHNSON
TAMPA - The Florida State Fair opens Thursday with a message for fairgoers who visit animal exhibits: Wash your hands. On Tuesday, fair officials unveiled portable hand-washing stations that are part of a plan to teach patrons how to protect themselves against E. coli bacteria. The plan is a response to last year's outbreak of infections linked to a strain of E. coli, 0157:H7, and farm animal petting zoos. State health investigators confirmed 22 cases of E. coli infection traced to petting zoos at the Florida Strawberry Festival, Florida State Fair and Central Florida Fair. "The answer is not to eliminate human and animal contact. The answer is changing behavior," John Irby, a Department of Agriculture veterinarian, said. E. coli is a common germ in the environment, Irby said. People can get sick by touching a germ-laden surface and later putting their hands in their mouths. Germs also can be transmitted by a baby bottle or pacifier that falls on the ground. Bright yellow signs in English and Spanish near the fair's animal exhibits ask, "Did you touch the animals? "Please wash your hands, especially before eating or putting your fingers in your mouth," they say. Hand sanitizer stations are available at animal exhibits, and signs direct patrons to hand-washing stations stocked with soap, water and paper towels outside the exhibits.
New Reptile Species found in Vietnam
February 8, 2006 www.vnagency.com.vn
Quang Binh -- German scientist Thomas Zegler has found a new reptile species in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh, Park Director Nguyen Tan Hiep announced on Feb. 8. The newly-discovered reptile is a kind of lizard called Tripidophrus Nogei, considered to have been spotted for the first time in the world. It was found in the Karst mountain area of the park. According to Zegler, 25 species of that type of lizard have been found, with most of them living in Southeast Asia, including seven in Viet Nam. The newly-discovered lizard is the 26th in the world.
Polar Bear Protection by USFWS
February 8, 2006 www.chron.com By DAN JOLING AP
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Afraid that global warming is melting away the polar bears' habitat, the USFWS is reviewing whether they should be considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and began a review process to consider if the polar bears should be listed. The agency will seek information about population distribution, habitat, effects of climate change on the bears and their prey, potential threats from development, contaminants and poaching during the next 60 days. The decision comes after the Center for Biological Diversity of Joshua Tree, Calif., filed a petition last year that said polar bears could become extinct by the end of the century because their sea ice habitat is melting away. The group, joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, also filed a federal lawsuit in December to seek federal protections for the polar bear.
Gunnison's Prarie Dog Not Listed
February 8, 2006 www.knoxstudio.com By James Brosnan
This week, USFWS rejected a petition from the environmental group Forest Guardians and 73 other groups and individuals to start the process of listing as endangered the prairie dog species, which ranges over the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Gunnison's prairie dog averages between 12 inches and 15 inches in length and is one of five prairie-dog species in North America, and is distinguished from the black-tailed prairie dog, which also ranges in New Mexico and Colorado, by its shorter and lighter-colored tail. It is estimated that that 90 years ago Gunnison's prairie dog colonies occupied more than 24 million acres in the Four Corners' states, but widespread poisoning wiped out 95 percent of the species by 1961, reducing their habitat to about 1 million acres. The biggest threat to Gunnison's prairie dog is a plague carried by fleas, which probably brought the disease from Asia on ships.
Dingo Numbers Decline
February 8, 2006 www.abc.net.au
An Australian National University PhD student aims to discover
whether reducing dingo numbers will increase the populations of
introduced species such as foxes and cats. Renee Visser will conduct a study in central Australia, including the cross border regions of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. She will visit arid areas of South Australia to study whether introduced species increase their numbers when they have greater access to resources."The theory is that when you actually bait dingoes for a period, it actually decreases the numbers but you then have a lot of transient animals coming in from other sources and they're not as territorial," she said. "They're not as defensive of an area or resources therefore foxes and cats have more opportunities. "In particular I'm interested in their behaviour."Whether or not they change their behaviour in that they might hunt at different times, might actually prey on different species in order to avoid the dingo and then when the dingo is removed from the area whether or not that actually opens up a bigger niche for the foxes and cats by removing the top predator."
Wattled Crane Recovery Program
February 8, 2006 www.surfbirds.com
With the backing of the Johannesburg Zoo, a 5-year Wattled Crane recovery program is underway. The South African Wattled Crane may be genetically unique from all other Wattled Cranes in Africa, and because Wattled Cranes have the lowest reproductive success of crane species, this recovery program is extremely important. The Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) is one of only three crane species indigenous to South Africa and is the most critically endangered crane species on the African continent. Due to habitat loss and poor reproductive success there has been a 35% decline in the South African Wattled Crane population over the last two decades. The current in situ population in South Africa consists of approximately 235 (Crane census 2004) birds. The continuing decline of the small in situ population and low fertility in situ and ex situ, led to a Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) workshop held in July 2000. One outcome of the PHVA was to recognize the need for a captive propagation and release program to create a viable genetic reservoir.
Lincoln Park Zoo Saves Jaguars
February 9, 2006 www.suntimes.com By ANDREW HERRMANN
For several years, experts at the Lincoln Park zoo have been working with, and helping fund, researchers in South America who are trying to save jaguars. This week, Brazilian biologist Laury Cullen Jr. and his Argentine counterpart, Mario Di Bitetti, are meeting here with Lincoln Park scientists to pore over data taken from radio transmitters affixed to wild jaguars and develop a conservation plan for the wild. Because of their nocturnal habits, jaguars are difficult to track. Researchers have traditionally relied on animal evidence -- feces, fur, paw prints and claw marks. Now, the Lincoln Park Zoo has helped purchase "camera traps'' -- photographic equipment about the size of a book to be hidden in trees to snap pictures when a sensor detects heat or motion. With spots like human fingerprints, individual animals are easily identified. There are some 90 jaguars in American zoos, said Joanne Earnhardt, director of Lincoln Park Zoo's Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology. Using data from those cats in captivity is also helping understand behavior of jaguars in the wild, she said. Chicago's jaguar addition will be sent from another zoo and exhibited at Lincoln Park's Kovler Lion House after renovations, which begin this fall, are complete.
GPS Tracking of Invasive Species
February 9, 2006 khon.com By Linda Coble
Wildlife experts are using a new satellite system to track invasive species from space and locate areas where they're likely to spread and thrive. Scientists and volunteers are learning the satellite system this week so they can train others to identify, map and document discoveries in the field. The GPS is a Trimble at the cost of $3,000, and another thousand for the satellite antenna, but priceless in the fight against invasive species. The National Wildlife Refuge Association is donating one for our wildlife biologists to use, and the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku is training headquarters. What used to be sketched by hand and noted on paper can now be electronically downloaded and documented to create accurate maps and a baseline to mark improvement.
Seneca Park Zoo Elephant's baby dies
2/9/2006 By www.wroctv.com Joylynn Whitfield
After months of anticipation and a 4-million exhibit expansion project, Genny C, one of the Seneca Park Zoo's African elephants lost her baby. The fetus died during complications during childbirth. Genny C. went into labor at 6:30 am, Tuesday. Her water broke, and she experienced strong contractions, said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. A team of expert doctors helped with the delivery consulting and monitoring Genny C, but after several hours of labor there were complications. "There was a foot that was in the wrong position. It happens with horses and cattle it's called a malpresentation," said Chief Zoo Veterinarian Jeff Wyatt. The misplaced foot prevented the calf from passing through the mother's reproductive tract. Genny C was the 11th African elephant to ever be artificially inseminated in North America. Even though she won't be able to have a baby again, Zoo staff plan to continue their efforts to preserve African elephants. Vets are now trying to keep her healthy. "She is eating normally; she is drinking normally, behaving normally. The challenge is monitoring her health in the next days to months," said Veterinarian Wyatt. Veterinarians say the baby is still in Genny C's uterus. It's possible the baby will pass, although that could take months. Doing a c-section is very dangerous and could put Genny C's life at risk. As for Genny C, she won't be able to have another baby because at age 28, she's past reproductive age.
Rosamond Gifford Zoo Fined
February 9, 2006, www.newsday.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ The federal government has rejected a request by the Rosamond Gifford Zoo to use a proposed $10,765 fine to make its elephant yard safer. USDA Federal inspectors said the zoo improperly handled a week-old baby elephant that died in August after falling into a swimming pool in the elephant exhibit. Regulators said the pool should have had a barrier such as a fence. Zoo officials have said the condition existed for 14 years, but had never been cited during annual federal inspections. The fine, paid by County taxpayers, will go into the U.S. Treasury's general fund to support President Bush's proposed $2.77 trillion federal budget, government officials said.
Perth's Eleventh Red Panda
February 9, 2006 www.sundaytimes.news.com.au
An eight-week-old male red panda cub is still dependent on his mother, but is expected to begin exploring outside its nesting box in the next few weeks. He's had his first vaccination and check-up. Vet Karen Payne said: "He weighs around 900 grams and appears to be in good health." The bamboo-eating Red Pandas come from the thickly forested, steep mountain slopes of China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos and Myanmar. But they face extinction in the wild due to deforestation, so zoos are working together to build a sustainable captive population through carefully managed and co-ordinated breeding programs. The cub is the 11th Red Panda bred at Perth zoo since 1997. It will mature at about 18 to 20 months when it probably will be shipped to another zoo in the region to play its part in other breeding programs.
New Mill Mountain Zoo Director
February 9, 2006 www.roanoak.com By Marques G. Harper
Sean Greene has worked at zoos in Fort Worth, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. He comes from Fort Worth where he was outreach director and starting March 6, Greene will oversee the Mill Mountain Zoo operations, fundraising activities and community relations. Greene, 34, said a top priority will be to get the zoo accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. The AZA gave Mill Mountain a year's extension after former director Beth Poff resigned last year to take a job as director of the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. "The Mill Mountain Zoo is only going to be as successful as the community that embraces it," Greene said. Mill Zoo officials looked at 25 candidates and narrowed that number to three before choosing Greene. While at Fort Worth, Greene hosted and produced a 30-minute program about animals and conservation called "WildLife Radio," which recently won a National Headliner Award from the Press Club of Atlantic City, N.J.
Bird Flu Spreads to Africa
February 9, 2006 www.nytimes.com By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
The bird flu virus has been confirmed for the first time in Africa, a
continent that is ill prepared to contain its spread, international
health authorities said yesterday. The Nigerian health authorities reported an outbreak of the (A)H5N1 virus to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris, which tracks the spread of veterinary diseases. The outbreak began Jan. 10, and more than 40,000 chickens have died at an egg farm in Kaduna State, in northern Nigeria, according to the report. A United Nations laboratory in Padua, Italy, confirmed late Tuesday that the cause was (A)H5N1. The outbreak "proves that no country is risk-free and that we are facing a serious international crisis," said Samuel Jutzi, director of the Animal Production and Health Division at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. It is not yet clear if the outbreak in Kaduna has already spread or
if any humans have been infected.
Pittsburgh zoo probing deaths of 10 sharks
February 9, 2006 espn.go.com By Anita Srikameswaran
PITTSBURGH - Human error might be to blame for the ozone-poisoning deaths of all 10 of the black-tip reef sharks at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Spokeswoman Connie George said zoo officials will notify the AZA when their investigation is complete. The deaths occurred during a routine, weekly backwash procedure that puts purified water into the 90,000-gallon open-ocean aquarium, a two- story exhibit. During the procedure, 9,000 gallons of water are removed from the aquarium and stored in a holding tank. A recovery tank that holds 9,000 gallons of already treated water is then emptied into the aquarium to replace the volume that was removed. The holding tank water is then pumped into the recovery tank where it is treated with ozone, a purifier much like chlorine. Although it dissipates within minutes, the procedure is to wait three days before d oing another water exchange cycle. But the backwash water used on Saturday still contained ozone, which impaired the fishes' ability to breathe. The water was reintroduced at the top of the tank, where the 3-foot-long, 15-pound black-tip reef sharks typically swim.
Chattanooga Zoo Chimpanzee Dies
February 9, 2006 www.chattanoogan.com
Chattanooga Zoo officials said Thursday they were "sad to announce the passing of one of the zoo's chimpanzees, Jake." Officials said, "The youngest of the zoo's larger chimpanzee community, Jake, being a teenager was going through the natural stage of challenging the social order in his group. On Thursday, Jake and the two females were involved in a conflict wherein Jake sustained injuries to his feet and hands. During treatment for these wounds, he died while under general anesthesia. Local medical personnel assisted in the efforts to revive him, but all efforts were unsucessful.
2nd non-human primate genome
February 9, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A multi-center team has deposited the draft genome sequence of the
rhesus macaque monkey into free public databases for use by the
worldwide research community, the National Human Genome Research
Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
announced today. The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the second
non-human primate, after the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), to have
its genome sequenced, and is the first of the Old World monkeys to
have its DNA deciphered. Overall, the rhesus genome shares about 92
to 95 percent of its sequence with the human (Homo sapiens) and more
than 98 percent with the chimpanzee. Consequently, the rhesus
provides an ideal reference point for comparisons among the three
closely related primates. Sequencing is also underway on the genomes
of a number of other primates, including the orangutan, marmoset and
gorilla. The sequencing of the rhesus genome was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis and at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., which are part of the NHGRI-supported Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network. The DNA samples used in the sequencing came from a female rhesus macaque at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio.
Zoo Bank - A Taxonomic Registry
February 9, 2006 www.economist.com/science
Carl von Linné, or Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, introduced the system of binomial nomenclature in 1758 (nearly 250 years ago) by classifying more than 10,000 species of animals and plants with two-part Latinised names. But so many species since then have been named in such a haphazard way that animal nomenclature is in trouble. Although Linnaeus's big idea was that each species would have one scientific name, so that scientists could know immediately what they were discussing. But the lack of a single official list of all the animals discovered so has frustrated the entire enterprise. Around 1.5m species are thought to have been described so far, but more than 6m names have been used. And despite occasional high-profile bird or mammal discovery, most novelties are additions to the 1m-strong list of insects-a list that is already bafflingly complex and incomplete. Taxonomists must struggle long and hard to figure out whether a name has been used before and also what other, similar, animals look like. In entomology alone, relevant data may be found in any one of more than 1,000 specialised journals. No wonder such a large proportion of the world's museum specimens are labelled incorrectly. The solution, proposed by a group called the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), based at the Natural History Museum, is called ZooBank.
DNA Links Mammoths to Living Elephants
February 9, 2006 www.nature.com/nature Vol 439 p 724-727
A new PCR-based method has made it possible to produce long DNA sequences from minute amounts of Pleistocene woolly mammoth bone preserved in Siberian permafrost. Analysis of the complete mitochondrial genome of a mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) has shown it to be slightly closer to the extant Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). The new data suggest a divergence of Asian and African elephants (Loxodonta africanus) and mammoths about 6 million years ago in Africa. The later divergence of between the mammoth and Asian elephant occurred only 440,000 after the divergence of the African elephant.
February 9, 2006 www.nature.com/nature Vol 439 p 803
Of the thousands of different metabolites that plants can produce, many form a cloud around the plant. These volatile compounds reflect the metabolic complexity of plants and also serve a diversity of functions. Volatile compounds signal opportunity to insects, pathogens, and pollinators alike. Plants being nibbled on by insect herbivores can produce volatile signals that call in other insects to prey on the herbivores. For plants that flower at night, volatiles may be a better signal than floral color or shape to draw in the best insect pollinators. Volatile signals are also read by neighboring plants and reinterpreted as instructions to adjust their own defenses. Through olfaction and, secondarily, through the combination of taste and olfaction, which we interpret as flavor, volatiles signal to mammals that what's nearby may be food or poison. Some volatile compounds have biochemical functions, such as the antimicrobial activity of the spice clove. The prevalence of clove and similar spices in traditional food recipes has much to do with the value of these spices for preserving food in pre-refrigeration human history. That these spices also deliver a unique flavor through their volatility serves as well as an overt signal of the better quality of the food.
'04 convention surplus Distributed
February 10, 2006 www.boston.com By Andrea Estes
The committee that organized the 2004 Democratic National Convention doled out its remaining $4 million surplus yesterday to 32 charities and nonprofit organizations, including the Boston Center for the Arts, the Museum of Science, and the JFK Library Foundation. The Institute of Contemporary Art and the Franklin Park Zoo received the largest grants, $400,000 apiece. The ICA's grant will help defray the costs of constructing its new headquarters, and the zoo will spend its money on exhibit renovations. The rest of the donations ranged from $25,000 to $300,000.
Florida U's "Friends Zoo Science" Program
February 10, 2006 studentweb.friends.edu By Nathan Gillman
Students at Friends University enrolled in the Friends Zoo Science Program have the opportunity to work with wild animals as a part of their weekly routine. During the past several years, enrollment has increased in the 4-year program from around a dozen students in the mid-'90s to about 70 students today, this major is one of the hot trends on campus. Director of the program, Patrick Mathews thinks that as other schools witness the success of the University program, they will add the degree, which may present some competition for Friends. However, one graduate of the program who heads up a two-year an associate degree program at Santa Fe Community College in Florida, is sending his graduates to Friends to complete their education. Friends broke ground by offering the zoo science major in 1988. Zoo science differs from zoology in that zoology is an overview of animal life, while zoo science concentrates on hands-on care of animals in captivity. The major came about as a result of conversations between George Potts, professor of biology at Friends, and Mark Reed, director of the Sedgwick County Zoo.
Overnight Safari Parks in the US
February 10, 2006 travel2.nytimes.com By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
Safari West in Sonoma County, Calif. is one of the country's half-dozen or so overnight safari lodges. There are gift shops, open-air
safari vehicles and enthusiastic guides. Philosophically, there are some profound problems with simulating Africa, a wild place where animals roam free, encounter predators and kill one another (and potentially you). But families can now spend the night in a tented cabin and the day rumbling through mud to observe wildlife from an open-air jeep. When I visited with my family, the sight of safari guides wearing khaki, a couple of them speaking Afrikaans while readying Desert Storm-colored vehicles, was almost Kiplingesque. Essentially a private zoo, Safari West has 50 species on a 400-acre former sheep ranch. It is the verdant, funkily aromatic province of Peter Lang, 64, a former cattle rancher, builder, contractor and developer. Mr. Lang and his wife, Nancy, a former curator of ornithology at the San Francisco Zoo, who live on the premises, started their Isak Dinesen fantasy with three eland and graduated to other animals, opening it to the public in 1991. Like others of its ilk, including the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Tex., and the Vision Quest Safari bed-and-breakfast in Salinas, Calif., Safari West, they say, is intended to be educational - a place where animals, born either there or in zoos, have the acreage to follow their bliss in a more natural way than in a zoo.
TV Star debates LA zoo elephants
February 11, 2006 www.mercurynews.com
LOS ANGELES - The director of the Los Angeles Zoo on Saturday said that game show host Bob Barker's remarks to the City Council about the mental and physical health of the zoo's three elephants were incorrect. Barker recently pleaded with the City Council to close the zoo's elephant exhibit, saying that the pachyderms lived in misery and that two of the three elephants were ill. "His information was wrong," said John Lewis, the zoo's director. "He was making statements that were just factually untrue." Two of the zoo's elephants, Billy and Ruby, are healthy physically and mentally, Lewis said. Gita has been recovering from October surgery for a foot injury and has been behaving normally, he said. A fourth elephant, Tara, died in 2004.
The Panda Finance Problem
February 12, 2006 www.nytimes.com By BRENDA GOODMAN
ATLANTA, Feb. 11 -Giant pandas are on loan to zoos in Washington, San Diego, Atlanta and Memphis. Dennis W. Kelly, chief executive of Zoo Atlanta, and the other zoo directors are now attempting to negotiate some budgetary concessions from China and if no agreement can be made, the pandas may have to return to China. San Diego's contract is the first to expire, in 2008, while the last contract with Memphis ends in 2013. "People will get up in the middle of the night to see the pandas," said Don Lindburg, head of the office of giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. "I don't think there is a comparable animal. There isn't the enormity of response that you find with pandas." But after the first year, crowds dwindle, while the expenses remain high. In fact, a panda's upkeep costs five times more than that of the next most expensive animal, an elephant. Zoo Atlanta pays the Chinese government $2 million a year for Lun Lun and Yang Yang. A curator, three full-time keepers and one backup keeper care for them and a crew of six travels around Georgia six days a week, harvesting bamboo (84 pounds a day, each) from 400 volunteers who grow it in their backyards. (Zoo Atlanta tried growing its own on a farm, as the Memphis Zoo does, but the pandas rejected it.) Most of the contracts last 10 years with China retaining ownership of the pandas, and the zoos leasing each pair for $1 million a year. If cubs are born, the annual fee increases by an average of $600,000. In addition, each zoo has agreed to pay another million or so each year to finance research and conservation projects in the United States and in China. Taken together, Mr. Kelly says, the contracts are worth more than $80 million to the Chinese government. Most other countries pay far less for their pandas. Australia and Thailand only pay about $300,000 each year, according to Kelly. So far, China seems amenable to considering it, he said.
Bird Flu Detected in Greece, Italy and Bulgaria
February 12, 2006 www.nytimes.com By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
The lethal A(H5N1) bird flu virus has been detected in wild birds in the European Union - in Italy and Greece, and also Bulgaria. 17 swans were found dead in three southern Italian regions: Calabria, Sicily, and Puglia. Testing at the National Avian Influenza Lab in Padua determined the cause to be the A(H5N1) virus, he said, although it was not clear if all 17 swans had been tested. "In some ways we would have expected it earlier in Italy," said Dr. Juan Lubroth, a senior veterinarian at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The Italian outbreak seems to have been a model of early detection, underlining how bird flu can be controlled in countries that have the money and the scientific resources to do it. Recent outbreaks in poor countries like Nigeria, Turkey and Iraq have percolated for months before they were discovered, allowing the virus to spread widely to commercial chicken flocks and even to humans. Dead swans have become an important flu sentinel because they are very susceptible to the virus and are so large that people notice when they die, Mr. Lubroth said.
Zoo documentary Premiers Wednesday
February 13, 2006 www.al.com By RYAN DEZEMBER
GULF SHORES -- Animal Planet's 13-episode series about the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, called "The Little Zoo That Could," is set to make its prime-time debut Wednesday night. The hour-long shows, which follow the Gulf Shores park's evacuations prior to hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Katrina as well as the nonprofit facility's subsequent recovery, will air at 8 p.m. Central and be rebroadcast several times before the next episode premiers on the next Wednesday night. The mid-week prime-time slot, is a popular one for television viewing. All of the attention is nothing new for the zoo, which saw extensive press coverage following its evacuation of 267 animals prior to Hurricane Ivan's September 2004 landfall. The facility's small staff and several volunteers undertook what turned out to be the first full-scale evacuation of a U.S. zoo ever recorded -- a film crew was on hand to document the task as a lesson for other menageries. Lions, tigers, baboons, birds, monkeys, donkeys and yaks were all hauled from the zoo's location -- about a mile north of the Gulf of Mexico on Alabama 59 -- to a spot north of the Intracoastal Waterway. As it turns out, the effort saved the animals, since the park's 17 low-lying acres were flooded with several feet of water in the storm.
Germany Orders Poultry Indoors
13 February 2006 www.expatica.com
BERLIN - The German government said Monday it was set to order poultry indoors over fears of spreading bird flu which has been confirmed in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria. Germany had planned to impose a ban on keeping poultry outdoors from March 1, but a spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer said the ban would likely now be brought forward. Swans in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria have died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, scientists in Britain and Italian confirmed at the weekend. Avian flu has killed birds in 20 countries and infected at least 166 people, killing 88 of them.
Bald Eagle May be Delisted
February 13, 2006 www.int.iol.co.za By Laura Zuckerman, Reuters
SALMON, Idaho - - Citing a dramatic increase in the number of bald eagles, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan on Monday that could remove the national symbol from protections under the federal Endangered Species Act. USFWS first floated a proposal in 1999 to remove bald eagles from the list of endangered and threatened species but it was stalled by a controversy over whether separate federal laws affecting the popular bird offered enough protection. The agency also wants to strengthen wording of one of those laws as well as provide voluntary guidelines for human activities that may interfere with bald eagles or destroy their nesting, roosting and feeding areas. The bald eagle population in the lower 48 states has soared from 417 nesting pairs in 1963 to more than 7,066 nesting pairs.
Nashville Zoo presents 'Kiss and Tail'
February 13, 2006 www.nashvillecitypaper.com
Ostriches dance for hours to attract their mate. Pythons intertwine like tightly braided hair. Male camels belch to excite a female. These and more mating rituals will be told at Kiss and Tail - a special Valentine's event for grownups at the Nashville Zoo, 3777 Nolensville Road. Ron Magill from the Miami Metrozoo will use a slide show to talk about the entertaining and often hilarious mating habits of animals. Kiss and Tail will run one night only Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Nashville Zoo and is open to individuals 18 and older. The program costs $25 per person for zoo members and $35 per person for non-members. It includes hors d'oeuvres, desserts, soda and water. Reservations are required. and can be made by calling 833-1534, ext. 129, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taronga Zoo Comments on Panda Rents
February 13, 2006 www.smh.com.au
As US zoos gasp at rising multi-million dollar rents for pandas, Sydney's Taronga Zoo has confirmed all its animals are complimentary. The Chinese are making more than $108 million dollars a year from their American panda rental business. And any new panda born in America costs the zoos $814,000 dollars on top. The zoos say the pandas cost five times more than the next most expensive creature, the elephant. Pandas symbolised the improving links between the US and China after President Richard Nixon was presented with a pair during the first visit of an American leader to communist China in 1972. But the Chinese authorities soon stopped giving the animals as gifts and asked for hard cash.
Scientists Discover New Assassin Spiders
February 14, 2006 www.enn.com By Alicia Chang, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - Scientists from the California Academy of sciences in San Francisco and researchers in Madagascar have found that tiny assassin spiders that prey on other spiders, are more diverse than previously thought. The newly discovered species could shed light on how assassin spiders evolved, and perhaps point scientists to other places in Madagascar where similar types could be located. The researchers caught more than a million bugs, including the nine new species of assassin spiders, during a four-year expedition through the island's rain and deciduous forests. Assassin spiders were once widely found around the world, but now are found in Madagascar, Australia and South Africa. About a dozen species of assassin spiders were previously discovered. The research was partly funded by the National Science Foundation.
Evansville's Mesker Park Zoo Expansion
February 14, 2006 www.14wfie.com
Mesker Park Zoo's newest project is called "Amazonia," and it will be the largest expansion in the zoo's 75-year history. Amazonia will be a 10,000-square-foot South American rain forest, with new animals including monkeys, birds, jaguars and fish which will be able to be viewed underwater. They will all be in a rain forest plant life setting. Visitors will enter through a brand-new complex, and be able to dine at two new restaurants. The plans have been redrawn and detailed for the past two years. Now officials say it's time to make sure all that planning is handed over to the best bidder. Zoo Director Dan McGinn tells us, "We decided we needed to have several alternates to our base plans, so we can build what we can afford." McGinn says construction will start as soon as possible, and he hopes to complete the project some time in 2007.
2 Condors Treated at Phoenix Zoo
February 14, 2006 www.azcentral.com
Condor 149 is a nine-year-old female. One of only 273 California Condors alive today. She is an exceptionally important bird because she is also the mother of a healthy baby born in the wild. Last month number 149 and a three year-old male condor were captured in the Vermilion Cliffs area northeast of the Grand Canyon. They are being treated at the Phoenix Zoo by vet Kathy Orr for lead poisoning. California Condors eat large, dead animals. Too often, they ingest lead fragments left in the remains of animals killed by hunters. Because all of the birds are monitored by radio signal, it is easy to identify which ones are having physical problems. A bird with lead poisoning may stay in one place for days. When that happens, field biologists will capture a condor in a cage baited with a dead calf. The calves are donated to the biologists by dairies. Typically, field biologists try to treat the animals by capturing them and injecting them with calcium versenate (Metamucil) which helps the birds expel the lead naturally. But if the lead lodges in a bird's stomach, the animal needs to be driven down to the animal hospital at the Phoenix Zoo. There they will be treated, monitored and X-rayed. Surgery may be necessary.
Illegal imports probable cause of Nigeria flu
The recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in Nigeria shows that poultry movements can cause the virus to jump across countries and even continents. With poor enforcement of controls already blamed for outbreaks in China, south-east Asia and Turkey, the Nigerian outbreak further demonstrates that lapses in biosecurity are the major reason for avian influenza's continuing spread around the world. While the precise nature of the outbreak is unknown, it seems more than likely that the virus arrived through infected poultry brought into the country in defiance of Nigeria's import controls. Speaking at a press conference, Nigeria's Agriculture Minister, Adamu Bello said, "Birds come every day from China, Turkey, into Nigeria, and from Europe and also from Latin America. So Nigeria is exposed. Illegal importation of poultry by people who have farms, bringing in poultry from places and smuggling them in... could also have been a cause."Mr Bello was also reported by Nigeria's Guardian newspaper group as saying: "We think someone may have imported or smuggled in contaminated birds."
Allison Alberts - New CRES Director
February 15, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Jeanette Steele
Allison Alberts wants the San Diego Zoo's work on protection of endangered species to be nearly as well-known as the zoo's monkey exhibits. Alberts is the new director of the San Diego Zoological Society's scientific arm, called Conservation and Research for Endangered Species. For decades, the research department was crammed into trailers at the zoo, and its scientists had to share equipment because there wasn't enough to go around. Then, in late 2004, it moved into a $22 million laboratory at the zoo's Wild Animal Park near Escondido. Alberts, a reptile expert, took the helm in December as the department embarked on a new era. She has worked for the Zoological Society for 15 years, her entire professional career, and wants her department to shed its obscurity like it did those trailers. "I think people know about the zoo, the Wild Animal Park, but they don't know as much about CRES and what we do," the University of California San Diego-trained scientist said. "I would really like more awareness about what we do, to the point where if someone in the government, or anybody, said, 'We need to reintroduce a species out into the wild,' they would immediately think: 'CRES - these are the people who know how to do this better than anyone else in the world.' "
Belfast Zoo Receives Award
February 15, 2006 www.4ni.co.uk
Belfast Zoo, in partnership with Queen's University's Scholl of Psychology, has received the highest award given by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums' for 'Best Research Project' - an innovative study entitled 'Auditory Enrichment for Zoo-housed Gorillas'. They also received a commendation for their research on 'Camouflaging Gorillas', which is used at their enclosure to prevent the animals from feeling that visitors are constantly watching them. Findings from the studies showed that the introduction of classical music, and a camouflage net barrier designed to reduce interruptions from visitors, had a positive effect on the welfare of the Zoo's 'gentle giants', encouraging behaviours suggestive of relaxation.
Extreme Dinosaurs at Brevard Zoo
February 15, 2006 www.floridatoday.com BY BREUSE HICKMAN
Eleven mechanical dinosaurs, including a 48' long Tyrannosaurus Rex are moving and roaring amid pines and palms at the Brevard Zoo. "I've been to about 50 robotic dinosaur exhibits around the country, but most of the time the dinosaurs are in a museum or mall," said Chris DeLorey, the zoo's education director. "It's a completely different experience when they are outside." The zoo did host a dinosaur exhibit seven years ago. but "Robotics have really come a long way in just five years." Said DeLorey. Docents are on hand to offer dino trivia and information, the exhibit is extremely interactive, too. The exhibit includes a "dig" area where kids can find buried fossils and occasionally getting close to the dinosaurs requires climbing through tunnels (one that is covered with swarming bugs.) The cost of the exhibit is $300,000.
Build-A-Bear Workshop Opens at St Louis Zoo
February 15, 2006 home.businesswire.com
ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 15, 2006--Build-A-Bear Workshop® is opening a store at the Saint Louis Zoo on Thursday, March 16. This is the first Build-A-Bear Workshop store located inside a zoo. Build-A-Bear Workshop At The Zoo, Where Wild And Wonderful Friends Are Made(TM), will offer ten animals and a variety of outfits, several available exclusively at this location, for kids young and old to enjoy. The store concept is based on the premise that nearly everyone, regardless of age, likes stuffed animals. When Guests visit Build-A-Bear Workshop At The Zoo, they enter a jungle-themed environment consisting of eight bear-making stations. Zoo Guests choose their furry friend to make, stuff it, add a variety of outfits and accessories, and give it a heart. Guests can choose from a variety of furry friends, including: Humboldt Penguin, Tree Frog, Asian Elephant and Ring-Tailed Lemur. Guests will also have the opportunity to dress their furry friends in exciting outfits, such as a zookeeper and an engineer. "At the heart of the Saint Louis Zoo experience is our ability to connect visitors with animals, in the hope that we'll create advocates for wildlife," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo.
New Forest Reserves in Brazil's Amazon
February 15, 2006 www.enn.com By Michael Astor, AP
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil has created two new national parks in the Amazon rain forest and expanded another to preserve an environmentally sensitive region next to where the government plans to pave a major road. The protected area is roughly twice the size of Belgium. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree placing 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of rain forest completely off limits for development, in a surprise ceremony late Monday. President Silva also created four national forests where sustainable logging will be permitted and an environmental protection zone where development is allowed under strict regulation. In total, the decree granted some form of environmental protection to 6.4 million hectares (16 million acres) on the western side of the so-far unpaved BR-163 highway. The controversial highway, stretching from the midwestern city of Cuiaba to the jungle port of Santarem, cuts through the heart of the rain forest and environmentalists warn that paving it will open a swath of destruction across the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness. The protected land lies in an area where President Silva declared a logging moratorium after the killing last year of American nun and environmental defender Dorothy Stang.
Cane Toads Evolved Longer Legs
February 15, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By John Roach
Cane toads (Bufo marinus) are native to South America and can weigh up to 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms). They were introduced to Australia in 1935 to combat beetles that were destroying sugarcane crops. But the toads began eating other bugs instead, competing with and beating out native insect-eaters. The toads are also toxic, which means most predators die after eating them. The toads now occupy more than 390,000 square miles. When they were first introduced, they spread at a rate of about six miles per year, but now they spread more than 31 miles per year. Richard Shine, an Australian ecologist at the University of Sydney, reports in the journal Nature that this is because the current generation of toads have legs that are about 10% longer than their earlier relatives. The evolutionary processes spawned by the cane toad invasion have occurred in a span of just 70 years. This adds to evidence from the past two decades that populations can adapt quickly when selection pressure is strong.
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo's 'gay vultures' breed
February 15, 2006 www.haaretzdaily.com By Varda Spiegel, Haaretz Correspondent
In 1997, zookeepers first noticed that the two male Griffin vultures in the zoo's flagship breeding and reintroduction-to-nature program were exhibiting all of the signs of mating behavior, including building a nest and copulating. They also rejected all female overtures. The zoo decided to provide the "gay couple" with a plaster-filled dummy egg to see what they would do. Yehuda and Daishik astonished their keepers by brooding in turns. Impressed by their devoted "incubation" of the artificial egg, keepers decided to introduce a chick and, once again, the male vultures' superb parenting skills exceeded all expectations. The pair raised three adopted chicks for a period of three years. The decision to let the male vultures raise chicks was not merely motivated by curiosity. Female vultures lay only one egg a year, unless that egg is removed from the nest - in that case, the mother will lay another egg in a process called "double clutching." Allowing Yehuda and Daishik to step in as "surrogate mothers" presented the potential of increasing the numbers of nearly extinct Griffin vultures. Then, last year Daishik took up with a female partner and was then moved to the Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Zoological Center. And now Yehuda has chosen a female partner.
Birmingham zoo keeper Injured by Lion
February 15, 2006 www.nbc13.com
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Melissa Wright, an employee at the Birmingham zoo was feeding a 19-year-old lion named Sheeba, when it attacked. . The attack happened while zoo employees were moving the animals from their overnight holding areas to their outdoor exhibits. Wright was rushed by ambulance to UAB hospital in downtown Birmingham, where doctors say she's being treated for injuries to her scalp. A spokeswoman for the Birmingham zoo says the lion has been moved back to its holding pin where it can be monitored. Zoo officials say a second employee was with Wright when the attack happened. Fortunately, that person was not hurt. Sheeba is the Birmingham Zoo's only lion and has been at the zoo for some time now. Dr. William Foster, director of the zoo, said Melissa was conscious and talking. The attack happened this morning about 9:40 a.m.
Scientists Track Female Nurse Sharks
February 15, 2006 www.smh.com.au
Sea World's head of marine sciences Trevor Long said two endangered grey nurse sharks - up to three metres long - have been tagged to monitor their movement in and around Wolf Rock off Double Island Point. The researchers believe a fishing exclusion zone around where the sharks live in 2003 is already helping the species. The sharks were dying after biting on fishing hooks. "It's interesting to note lately that none of the grey nurses - and it's the largest congregation of sharks I've seen up there in 35 years - had any hooks in them. Mr Long believes more fishing exclusion zones are needed along the NSW and Queensland coasts to help protect marine life.
India Tries to Preserve Tigers
February 15, 2006 www.enn.com By Gavin Rabinowitz, AP
PALAMAU TIGER RESERVE, India - Trackers patrol 24 hours a day looking for signs of the big cats: a glimpse, paw tracks, droppings, remains of a kill. The clues are elusive -- not just because of the tiger's stealth, but because India's tigers are vanishing. As many as 100,000 tigers are thought to have roamed India 100 years ago. Based on a 2001 census, officials estimate there are just 3,500 tigers left, but conservation activists believe there are far fewer. One problem is gangs of poachers that kill cats for their pelts and bones, which are used mostly in traditional Chinese medicine. A single tiger carcass can fetch up to US$50,000 (euro42,000). The discovery last year that poachers had wiped out every tiger in Sariska, one of India's premier tiger reserves, caused an outcry and demands for a beefing up of security in the parks. Sunita Narain, an environmentalist, has been asked to head the Tiger Task Force by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "We need a more nuanced and carefully devised strategy," Narain says, noting that Sariska already has more armed guards per square kilometer (mile) than any other reserve in India. She says conservationists need to take into account the realities of India, a largely impoverished country of more than 1 billion people -- some 800 million of whom must live on less than 90 rupees (US$2,euro1.70) a day.
Key-Hole Surgery Saves Giraffe
February 15, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
Pioneering key-hole surgery has saved the life of a female giraffe at Edinburgh Zoo. Sapphire the giraffe stopped eating last October and an x-ray revealed a fracture in her lower jaw bone. Veterinary surgeon Paddy Dixon, from the University of Edinburgh's Royal School of Veterinary Studies, performed the operation. He used a key-hole surgery procedure developed for horses but never before tried on a giraffe. Before Mr Dixon was consulted, vets briefly considered putting Sapphire down because the severity of the break made it impossible for her to eat. She started eating the day after the surgery in November and in January a second operation took place to remove the wiring that had been placed in her mouth.
Nagoya zoo Koala Sleeps on Ground
February 16, 2006 www.yomiuri.co.jp
Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya has released rare video footage of a koala sleeping on the ground. The 3-year-old male koala, named Aoi, which was born on Awajishima island, Hyogo Prefecture, started sleeping on the ground after he was moved to the Nagoya zoo in October 2004. According to the zoo, koalas are timid and spend almost all their time in trees, even while sleeping, and rarely come down to the ground. Aoi spends the day in eucalyptus trees with eight other koalas, but sleeps on the ground, leaning against a fence, for up to six or seven hours almost every night. He then returns to trees at dawn. "We've consulted with other zoos, but no one has ever heard of this happening before," said a representative for the zoo. "We have no idea why he's sleeping on the ground."
Lewis Greene Is New Chaffee Zoo Director
February 16, 2006 www.wavy.com
Lewis Greene accepted the position of Director of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in California. Green has served as the Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo for the past three and a half years. Norfolk City Manager Regina Williams and Virginia Zoological Society Board Chair Carolyn Betz complimented Greene's achievements with the zoo. "Lewis is a fine professional and has played a key role in creating a solid vision for the zoo's future. With the completion of the Africa exhibit and an updated Master Plan in place, we are well positioned to continue the progressive direction and capital investment that is turning the Virginia Zoo into a remarkable jewel for residents and visitors alike," said Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. During his tenure at the Virginia Zoo, Greene managed the city operated zoo and the private non-profit support organization. He opened an entry complex that includes education classrooms, gift shop and administrative offices. A prarie dog habitat was added and the Children's Zoo was renovated.
SSP Moves African Lion to South Carolina Zoo
February 16, 2006 www.wistv.com By Bryce Mursch
Columbia, S.C. -- Thursday morning, Riverbanks announced that a new pedigreed African male lion, named Zuri, has moved to the Zoo. "Zuri is just a youngster, so it'll be a little while before he's mature enough to fend for himself against our two adult females, Brynn and Lindsey. Until he's a little bigger and they've been formally introduced, Zuri and the two girls will take turns being out on exhibit," said John Davis, Curator of Mammals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Zuri was born on August 15, 2004, at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, the same zoo from which Riverbanks' two new giraffes, Charlie and Sharon, recently moved. There are only 181 pedigreed African lions in 43 zoos nationwide. Pedigreed lions are those whose ancestors can be traced back to the wild; Zuri's lineage traces back to regions of southern Africa where the Panthera leo krugeri has particular prevalence in northern Namibia, Botswana and southern Zaire to southern Mozambique. Zuri's move from Kansas was recommended by the African lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), which called for a male to be introduced to Riverbanks' two females. It's likely that an SSP recommendation for Zuri to mate with either lioness won't come until he's matured, possibly in three to four years.
National Zoo Recycles Cell Phones
February 16, 2006 www.nbc4.com
WASHINGTON -- The booster organization at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park wants your old cell phones. Friends of the National Zoo are joining with a Kentucky company to start a program to recycle cell phones, batteries and accessories. Depending on each phone's resale value, the company, Eco-Cell, will donate as much at $15 to the zoo group. The cell phones, which are being refurbished for distribution in developing countries, can be dropped off at the zoo's visitor center. The zoo group says cell phones contain toxic materials and pollute the environment when disposed in landfills. Recycling also helps protect the habitats of endangered African gorillas where a rare metallic ore is mined in forests to be used in cell phones. That mining has increased with the demand for more cell phones.
Binder Park Zoo Works With CCF-Kenya
February 16, 2006 www.battlecreekenquirer.com By Stephanie Antonian Rutherford
Jennifer Barnett, the director of wildlife management at Binder Park Zoo, recently spent time in Kenya working with the Cheetah Conservation Fund-Kenya. Her job was to provide education on how to properly immobilize wild cheetahs, proper diet and exercise for captive cheetahs, how to have more successful breeding and how to build relationships between humans and cheetahs. CCF-Kenya, which is under the direction of a former Binder Park employee, Mary Wykstra. According to Barnett, cheetahs are facing major problems due to human overpopulation, difficulties with breeding and by falling prey to other large cats such as lions or leopards. "There are only about 1,000 cheetahs left in Kenya," Barnett said. "My goal in going there was to help educate local people, vets and landowners on how to work with and protect cheetahs." The second focus on her visit was to aide in the Great Cheetah Census. The census is a project dedicated to locating and tracking cheetahs in Kenya. Barnett spent a week tracking cheetahs on foot through the wild bush, led by bush tribesmen and camels. Back in Battle Creek, Barnett will continue her work with the CCF. She is set to receive some 900 photos of cheetahs taken in Kenya for the Great Cheetah Census. Her job is to try and identify different cheetahs and determine their sex and age, if she can. "There is 70 percent less wildlife in Kenya than there was 20 years ago," Barnett said. "Hopefully I can work to help find some solutions and educate the African people." "Next I want to go to Mongolia to work with snow leopards," she said.
Elephant Birth Complication
February 16, 2006 www.13wham.com By Jane Flasch
Rochester, NY - Last week Rochester's elephant Genny lost her calf during labor. Zoo officials are concerned because it has been a week since the baby calf died in the womb, and the unborn baby has moved only slightly. Zoo expert Larry Sorel said, "We're very comfortable with the progress she's making, but I wouldn't be honest if I don't say there is some slight risk." The calf remains partially lodged in the opening of the elephant's six-foot birth canal. The hope is that it will eventually move completely back into the uterus or down the birth canal to be expelled. If it stays where it is, the risk is that it will cause a severe infection. Veterinarian Mel Richardson, a national expert who's cared for elephants at zoos in Dallas, San Antonio, and Seattle said "The danger is--the dead fetus putrefies. In a horse you can reach in and pull it out, but the elephant's anatomy is different." In 2002, vets in California vets euthanized elephant Tika who became infected when her body failed to expel her dead fetus. Ruby, an elephant at the Phoenix Zoo, died after an attempt at a c-section to remove her dead calf. Richardson said, "If her immune system is strong enough to wall it off …it will save her life...but even with the best care...it's dangerous to the mother." Genny C is on antibiotics, and back with he friend Lilac. She's taking her medication, eating, doing all the things she should be doing.
Kiwi Hatches at National Zoo
February 16, 2006 www.nbc4.com
WASHINGTON -- A healthy North Island brown kiwi hatched at the National Zoo on Monday. The chick weighed 9.7 ounces when it was hatched and will remain in an incubator for the first week. The first kiwi was hatched in 1975 (16 yers ago) and is still on exhibit at the Zoo's Bird House. From www.abc.net.au . February 17, 2006: For the first time in more than 30 years, a kiwi chick is being cared for at Washington's national zoo. The chick was slightly premature and arrived after 64 days of incubation. It will have to be weighed every day for months to make sure it is healthy and not losing too much weight. Kiwi chicks do not eat, instead they absorb a very large internal yolk sack. The bird's sex will not be known for a few days. It is from an endangered species, a north island brown. Zoo staff say they are planning to give it a Maori name meaning hope or strength. It is only the second kiwi to hatch in the zoo's 116-year history.
Calgary Zoo Plans Arctic Exhibit
February 16, 2006 calsun.canoe.ca By MICHAEL PLATT
Calgary Zoo's director of corporate affairs, Grahame Newton, confirmed that a $100-million development application was headed to the city's planning commission. Hopefully the Zoo will be allowed to begin construction of Arctic Shores, a major cold-climate exhibit for polar bears and penguins that will dominate the north entrance of the zoo. Arctic Shores is the main component of a three-part, $120-million zoo overhaul that will start next month with the construction of a $10-million Tropical Asian home for the elephants, featuring four times the space and amphitheatre seating for visitors. The zoo also plans to spend $12 million rebuilding the 40-year-old conservatory, featuring glass towers, a wedding chapel, tea room and rare plant collection.
Europe Takes Action Against Bird Flu
February 16, 2006 www.nytimes.com By RICHARD BERNSTEIN and ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
BERLIN, Feb. 15 - Health officials across Europe issued restrictions for commercial poultry farms Wednesday after reports that the deadly bird flu virus had turned up at a surprisingly early date in migratory birds in several Western European countries. The virus was confirmed in mute swans in Greece, Bulgaria and Italy on Saturday, and in Germany on Wednesday. Likely cases were detected in the same species in Slovenia and Croatia on Sunday, Austria on Monday and Denmark on Tuesday. Health officials had expected wild birds to carry the disease into Europe from Africa in the spring migration. But the swans were probably migrating south to wintering grounds on the Black Sea, officials said, and were driven west by unusually cold weather in Russia and Ukraine. Although 91 people have died after picking up the virus from close contact with birds, the most immediate threat for Europe is an uncontrolled outbreak of the virus among domesticated fowl, which can rapidly decimate a national poultry industry. This strain of flu virus, A(H5N1), is highly contagious and lethal to birds, often killing tens of thousands of poultry at a time. All of the birds in a wide region must be culled to prevent the spread of the disease.
Washington's Orcas Get More Protection
February 16, 2006 abcnews.go.com By PEGGY ANDERSEN, AP
SEATTLE- Since 2002, the orcas in Washington State have been protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and their listing under the Endangered Species Act which goes into effect Thursday gives them the highest protection available under the law. The three pods of orcas that live in Puget Sound from late spring through early fall, known as the southern resident orca population, total 89 whales. That's down from more than 100 in the middle of the last century but up from a low of 79 in 2002. The decline has been blamed on pollution and a drop in the population of salmon, their primary food. The National Marine Fisheries Service will upgrade its orca conservation plan because of the new designation. One of the first steps is defining the whales' critical habitat, said Bob Lohn, the agency's Northwest regional director. Lohn said NMFS officers would start monitoring whale-watching operations more closely. There are no proposed changes in its rules, which bar harassment of orcas and operation of engines within 100 yards of the mammals. "People are beginning to understand just how unique and amazing they are and how lucky we are to have the southern resident population" said Susan Berta of Orca Network.
New Fish Species
February 16, 2006 www.enn.com By Miranda Leitsinger, AP
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Scientists have discovered what they believe is a new fish species and at least 20 types of previously unknown seaweeds during a recent expedition to one of the Caribbean's most diverse marine areas -- a coral-covered underwater mountain off the Dutch island of Saba. It could take a year before researchers confirm the findings, which local fishermen, working with the Dutch Antilles government, are hoping to use to lobby authorities to steer oil tankers away from the Saba Bank Atoll to protect their livelihoods and the rich underwater life. During their two weeks at the atoll, divers braved 12-foot seas to plunge 100 feet underwater twice daily to collect marine samples. Their efforts turned up unique striped patterns on the seaweeds and one fish that researchers believe is new to science: a goby with orange spots. "We were literally discovering a species every day, that's truly remarkable" said Michael Smith, a senior research scientist at Conservation International, which funded the January expedition along with the Netherlands Ministry of Traffic and Water Management and Miami-based cruise operator Royal Caribbean's Ocean Fund. "There aren't very many places where you can still do that in the Caribbean or very close to North America." Not to be outdone by the fish discovery were the seaweed findings. Smith called the area "the epicenter of diversity for seaweeds in the Caribbean."
Elephants "Hear" With Their Feet
February 16, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By John Roach
African elephants stomp and trumpet when a predator approaches. The noises made resonate at a frequency that elephants nearby can detect in the ground. This was demonstrated by Stanford biologist, Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell. She and her colleagues played the ground-shaking component of these vocalizations to elephants gathered around a watering hole in Etosha National Park in Namibia and witnessed the animals bunching into a tighter group and orienting in the direction of the signal. They then left the area much sooner than they would have ordinarily. O'Connell-Rodwell thinks the behaviors are indications that the elephants detected the call and interpreted it as a warning. O'Connell-Rodwell and her colleagues reported the finding this month in the online edition of the Journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
Rare Cambodian Dolphin Near Extinction
February 16, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
PHNOM PENH - The rare Asian dolphin has moved closer to extinction in Cambodia after a series of deaths in fishing nets over the past few weeks. Two baby dolphins were found dead in nets on Monday, taking the toll to 10 since early December, said Leang Seng of the fishery office in Kratie Province, 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Phnom Penh where 90 of the mammals lived.
There are believed to be about 1,000 of the dolphins alive, with other groups being found in Thai coastal estuaries and a few other freshwater areas in Asia.
Manatee Death Rate Increasing
February 16, 2006 www.enn.com By AP
NAPLES, Fla. - Manatee deaths jumped by a third this January compared with the same month last year. 48 of the endangered animals are known to have died statewide, 12 more than in January 2005. Half of the deaths were listed as cause unknown because the manatees' bodies were decomposed. Officials are waiting on lab test to determine if red tide, a toxic algae bloom, was involved. Last year, 396 manatee deaths were reported. The highest toll was recorded in 1996, when 415 died.
February 16, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A review published in the recent issue of Ethology suggests that the presence of multiple predators slows the loss of anti-predator abilities in isolated populations. Many species find themselves isolated from predators with which they evolved. This can be natural, as on islands, or unnatural, as in zoos. In response to this isolation, many species lose the ability to respond appropriately to their predators. However, some species, despite many years of isolation, retain anti-predator behavior. UCLA professor, Dan Blumstein, reviewed the literature and suggests that the key factor responsible for persistence, despite the loss of some predators, is that anti-predator behavior does not evolve independently. Most species have more than a single predator and we should expect co-adapted suites of anti-predator behavior. Thus, the loss of a single predator should have a limited effect on overall anti-predator abilities as long as other predators remain.
Capturing Data with Google Earth
February 16, 2006 www.nature.com/nature Vol 439 (7078) pp 776-778 By Declan Butler
The Google Earth virtual globe, is changing the way we interact with spatial data. It is now possible to place satellite tags on wildlife and track the animals' movements and behavior over several years using this free tool. It is also possible to combine data sets. By using Google Earth to visualize live data from satellites, changing density and drift of Arctic ice, as well as the position of individual buoys and icebergs can be combined with polar bear or walruses' movements and behavior. With traditional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software - which was previously the only way to deal with spatial data like these - combining the two data streams would have been a headache. With Google Earth it will be effortless. By offering researchers an easy way into GIS software, Google Earth and other virtual globes are set to go beyond representing the world, and start changing it.
Sydney's Baby Puggle Greets Visitors
February 17, 2006 dailytelegraph.news.com.au By PETER TRUTE
Last September, Sydney's platypus, Maryanne gave birth to a baby boy, and yesterday he finally came out of the burrow to greet the world. Platypuses spend the first four months of life in the burrow, suckling from their mother. When the young male emerged yesterday he was about 30cm long and, at 1.4kg, already outweighed his 1.2kg mum. Behavioural biologist Margaret Hawkins and platypus keeper Adam Battaglia, have now overseen the birth of five puggles at the zoo. Environment Minister Bob Debus said that while the platypus was not an endangered species, the zoo was doing important work for the future. "Carefully managed zoo-based breeding programs are imperative as an insurance population against a catastrophe in the wild," he said.
Chinese Photograph Snow Leopards
February 17, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SHANGHAI, China (AP) - After spending a year tracking snow leopards, Chinese researchers have finally been able to secure photographs by using cameras installed in a remote river valley near Mount Tomur, a 24,535-foot peak in the Tianshan mountains in northwestern China's Xinjiang region. The shots were taken Oct. 18-Dec. 27, according to the official Xinhua News Agency five different cats were visible in the 32 clear photographs. The snow leopard lives in high mountains and plateaus scattered across China, Afghanistan, India and Nepal. The number surviving in the wild is estimated at 3,500-7,000, more than half of which are thought to be in western China. The Snow Leopard Trust is at www.snowleopard.org
Bird flu in Egypt & France
February 17, 2006 www.nytimes.com By AP
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Tests confirmed the deadly strain of bird flu in Egypt, as France reported a probable first case Friday and the United Nations expressed growing concern about the virus' spread through West Africa. Egypt reported Friday that 18-20 dead birds had tested positive for bird flu. A U.N. official said tests confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain that has swept out of Southeast Asia into Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Egypt's health ministry was preparing to declare a state of emergency, the government said. The French agriculture ministry said Friday that it found the nation's ''probable'' first case of H5N1 bird flu virus in a dead wild duck. The ministry said tests confirmed that the duck found in the southeast Ain region had H5 bird flu and that it was believed to be the deadly N1 strain. Further tests were being conducted, the ministry said. Bird flu has killed 91 people in Turkey and in Asia since 2003, with most victims infected directly by sick birds, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists fear the H5N1 virus could mutate to a form more easily passed between humans and spark a human flu pandemic.
South Africa Postpones Culling Elephants
February 17, 2006 www.enn.com By Jeremy Lovell, Reuters
LONDON - The South African government has postponed a controversial proposal to resume culling elephants from Kruger National Park where overcrowding is causing problems, a leading conservation scientist said. The proposal last year from the national parks authority to end a 10-year ban had outraged many conservationists who said it was unnecessary. Rudi van Aarde, a professor of conservation ecology at the University of Pretoria said "We want at least three years for more research." The SANParks proposal could have meant removing thousands of elephants from the 12,500 in the sprawling park, where the optimal number had been set at 7,000 for about 30 years. In the years before the ban, more than 14,000 elephants had been culled to keep numbers around 7,000.
Australia - Thailand Animal Exchange
February 18, 2006 www.theage.com.au By Andrew Darby
MELBOURNE -- The Melbourne zoo and its Sydney counterpart plan to send about 40 native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and possums, to the Chiang Mai Night Safari in exchange for the 8 Asian elephants, they are importing. A memorandum of agreement was signed between the Thai Government and the Victorian and NSW governments in June 2004, but the agreement was tabled in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney during a recent battle with animal welfare groups. One prominent Thai animal activist said there had been many animal deaths at the Thai safari park. He said birds were dying every day, three out of six crocodiles had died of infection and one hyena was killed by others. Thai media have claimed 104 animals have died. The agreement commits the Australian zoos to helping their Thai partner become an international leader in wildlife presentation. Training and advice will be provided to park staff.
Pudu Born at Edinburgh Zoo
February 18, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
Edinburgh Zoo has been participating in a European Endangered Species Programme for pudu since 1985, and has announced the birth of Jon. One of the world's smallest deer, Jon is 15cm long, and was born February 6th, the first infant to parents Amber and Henry. The last pudu birth was in 2000. Head keeper Darren McGarry said "Hopefully, this is the start of a new period of success with this endangered species at Edinburgh Zoo." The European studbook keeper for the species who is based at Wuppertal Zoo in Germany. The southern pudu live in lowland temperate rainforests in Chile and south-west Argentina. Wild populations are most at risk through the destruction of their lowland forest habitat and natural predators such as pumas and foxes.
Golden Monkey Population Rising
February 19, 2006 news.yahoo.com
BEIJING (AFP) - China's golden monkeys, have made a surprising comeback with populations quadrupling in the past two decades. The snub-nosed monkeys, which are found only in southwestern Guizhou province, have risen in number from 200 in the early 1980s to around 800, Xinhua news agency said. Despite its growing numbers, the animal is still endangered and vulnerable to poaching and forest fires. Yang Yeqin is director of Guizhou's Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, where most of the monkeys live. He claims the animals are also vulnerable to human diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera and measles.
Petition to Support El Paso Zoo
February 19, 2006 www.kfoxtv.com
The El Paso zoo staff is asking visitors to sign a petition that will reach lawmakers in Washington to help secure federal funding. Signatures are being collected at zoos nationwide to petition Congress for $2 million for AZA conservation and research programs. "Mainly it's Asian, African elephants, a lot of the primates -- because of the bust meat crisis," said Joe Rodriguez, with the El Paso Zoo. The petition is available at the Zoo entrance and signatures will be collected until the end of the month.
Bird Flu Closes Cairo Zoo
February 19, 2006 english.aljazeera.net
The Egyptian authorities have closed the Cairo zoo and seven other state-run zoos around the country for two weeks after 83 birds died there, some from the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. Witnesses saw dead and sick birds inside the zoo grounds on Sunday, and the Health Ministry said that six of the 83 dead birds had tested positive for bird flu. A ministry statement said they included species of duck, turkey and Chinese geese. The zoo has slaughtered 563 birds and drained all the ponds there, it added. On Sunday, zoo workers sprinkled disinfectant around the cages and Talaat Sidraus, the zoo manager, told reporters the aim was to gain control of the situation "before disaster strikes". Since the first announcement on Friday the authorities have reported cases of bird flu among poultry in at least eight provinces, stretching from Dakahlia and Biheira on the Mediterranean coast to Qena in the far south.
Detroit Zoo May Close
February 20, 2006 www.freep.com BY HUGH McDIARMID JR.
The Detroit City Council voted, 7-2, on Saturday to reject a plan to transfer the zoo's operations and most of its funding to the nonprofit Detroit Zoological Society. The vote leaves the 75-year-old Royal Oak zoo without an operating budget for the current year. Layoff notices will be sent to employees this week. The council members who voted against the plan to turn the zoo over to the Detroit Zoological Society said they had insufficient time to properly go over the proposal and they complained that even though the city said it could no longer afford to run the zoo, the agreement called for the city to give the zoo $10 million in capital money over two years. If the zoo is forced to close, it will end hundreds of school field trips and environmental education programs, and disappoint the zoo's 1 million annual visitors. The council's vote also effectively forfeited $4 million in state aid for the zoo that expired at midnight when no deal had been reached. "It was a terrific plan," Zoo Director Ron Kagan said Sunday of the blueprint that would have allowed the city to retain ownership of the land and animals at the Royal Oak facility and transfer about $4 million in annual operating costs to the zoo society. "What the city was giving up was a lot of financial obligation."
New Primate Species at Zoo Zürich
Feb 20, 06 travelvideo.tv
Since March 2005, nine mouse makis, members of the lemur family, have been living in Zürich's Masaola Rainforest. The zoo was not aware that they were actually a new species. Researchers at the German Primate Center and the University of Göttingen made the discovery based on genetic material obtained from samples of faeces. The new species has been named "Microcebus lehilahytsara" which is Malagasy for "good man", named for Dr. Steven M. Goodman, whose field research has contributed much to the understanding of the various animal species in Madagascar. Madagascar is home to a huge variety of lemurs and the mouse makis belong to the smallest known primates.
Betty White Honored for Animal Work
February 20, 2006 www.nbc4.tv
LOS ANGELES -- Emmy-winning actress and Los Angeles Zoo commissioner Betty White will get a new title Monday -- Ambassador to the Animals. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo, will bestow the honorary title on White during a 1 p.m. ceremony. White has long been associated with zoo, both as a commissioner and as a member of the zoo foundation's board. She is a past president of the Morris Animal Foundation, a well-known nonprofit associated with mountain Gorilla researcher Dian Fossey. White wrote two animal-related books: Betty White's "Pet Love" and a second about a golden retriever, "A Book About Dinah." In the late 1960s, Betty and her late husband, Allen Ludden, wrote and hosted a television show called "The Pet Set," in which actors and actresses appeared with their pets.
Sequoia Zoo Works on Master Plan
February 20, 2006 www.times-standard.com
EUREKA -- The City Council will look Tuesday at hiring a consultant to create a Sequoia Park Zoo master plan, a major step in prioritizing projects and assuring the nearly 100-year-old zoo maintains its accreditation. The AZA put the zoo's accreditation renewal on hold for one year while several concerns are being addressed. The plan will ensure that future exhibits conform to AZA standards. The city sent out requests for qualifications in January, received four proposals and narrowed down the field to Jones and Jones Architects & Landscape Architects, Ltd. The Seattle-based firm has been involved in several such projects, including comprehensive planning for the prestigious San Diego Zoo. Rob and Cherie Arkley are covering the $54,000 cost. Addressing other AZA concerns the zoo curator/supervisor will be upgraded to zoo manager with day-to-day administrative responsibilities, and one zoo keeper will be designated head zoo keeper while a part-time zoo keeper will be made full time at a total cost of $28,456. Overall, general fund appropriations have increased by $141,473 at the six-month mark due mainly to staff changes and equipment needs.
Rosamond Gifford's Directorship Will Change
February 20, 2006 www.syracuse.com By Mark Weiner
The next director of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo will have fewer duties and be asked to strictly focus on day-to-day operations of the zoo and the care of its almost 1,000 animals. The previous director, Anne Baker, wore two hats while serving as director at Burnet Park. She also served in the unpaid position as executive director of Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, a nonprofit fundraising arm with a paid staff of 15 and a payroll of more than $600,000 per year. Baker will leave her $75,000-per-year job April 1 to become executive director of the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, where she will receive about $200,000 in salary in benefits. In Toledo, Baker will also help raise money for the privately owned Toledo Zoological Society, a nonprofit organization that runs the zoo. Baker, who came to Syracuse in February 1993, directed a seven-year expansion and renovation project at the zoo. The expansion culminated in last year's opening of the $3.7 million Penguin Coast exhibit.
Cultures Affect Captive Gorillas
February 20, 2006 www.enn.com By Andrew Bridges, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS - Behavioral surveys of the roughly 370 gorillas in U.S. zoos showed 48 variations in how individual groups of the apes make signals, use tools and seek comfort, said Tara Stoinski of Zoo Atlanta and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. " there is a very distinct pattern of similarities and differences between groups," Stoinski said. That suggests the gorillas pass along the different traits socially, not genetically, which is a hallmark of culture. Results were presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stoinski said the surveys found that even gorillas at the same zoo but living in separate groups can display cultural differences. At Zoo Atlanta, only some gorilla groups use sticks to push aside the electrified wires that protect the trees in their enclosures, allowing the apes to snack on the bark without getting shocked, she said.
Drought Kills Wildlife in Kenya
February 20, 2006 www.enn.com By Rodrique Ngowi, AP
NAIROBI, Kenya - A searing drought has killed dozens of hippopotamuses and other wild animals in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania, and disrupted the annual migration of wildebeests and zebras between the two East African nations, conservation officials said. Maasai warriors and others are driving tens of thousands of cattle inside Kenya's wildlife sanctuaries in search of pastures and water -- risking attacks by wild animals, Kenya Wildlife Service spokeswoman Connie Maina said Saturday. The drought has so far killed at least 60 hippopotamuses in Kenya's wildlife sanctuaries. The animals -- the third-largest living land mammals, after elephants and white rhinos -- need large quantities of water or mud to cool bodies, which can weigh up to 3.5 tons. Some 40 endangered Grevys zebra -- the largest, wildest and most untamable of the three zebra species remaining in Africa -- have died from anthrax near the Samburu Game Reserve, Maina said. Natural anthrax's bacillus spores can live for decades in dry soil and are ingested by animals rummaging for vegetation during droughts. Hundreds of buffaloes, water bucks, elephants and other large animals that need plenty of water are suffering. And the situation is expected to get worse because rain is not expected until mid March.
Frans deWaal's new book: "Our Inner Ape"
February 20, 2006 www.centredaily.com BY WILLIAM MULLEN
CHICAGO - Primatologist Frans de Waal says the bonobo has a sexual encounter every 90 minutes or so throughout the day. He feels that humans should pay more attention to the way wild bonobos live out their lives in matriarchal bands in the humid Congo rainforests. de Waal is promoting his new book, "Our Inner Ape" (Riverhead, $24.95). The Dutch-born de Waal, 57, is a research director at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta and professor of psychology at Emory University. His first book, "Chimpanzee Politics," appeared in 1982. Unlike most animal researchers who are careful never to anthropomorphize, De Waal says if you don't anthropomorphize while observing animals like primates, you will ignore important data. "Chimps, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans are all acutely aware of their social interactions and ponder many options as they go about their daily life," he said.
Sumatran Orang Born at Toronoto Zoo
February 21, 2006 www.canada.com
Conservation groups and ape experts around the world are buoyed by the birth of a Sumatran orangutan at the Toronto Zoo. 39-year-old Puppe of the IndoMalaya Pavilion gave birth to her fifth child in the early hours of Jan. 18. Her baby son is nursing contentedly, Bev Carter, supervisor of the pavilion, said in a written statement. As few as 7,300 orangutans are left on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. "They're disappearing at a rate of about 1,000 a year. They could be extinct in as little as a decade," said Cindy Bowen, international director of the advocacy group, Sumatran Orangutans Society. The gestation period of the Sumatran orangutan is 225 to 275 days. The infant weighs 1.6 to 1.9 kg. at birth and is totally helpless. It clings to the mother until nearly a year old.
South East Asian Zoo Assn Meets
February 21, 2006 www.thejakartapost.com By Theresia Sufa
Members of the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) held a meeting Friday to discuss plans to improve zoos and animal conservation programs in the region. Members from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia met at the Safari Garden Hotel in Cisarua. Association president Jansen Manansang said participants at the gathering would share information about how to improve the role of zoos in animal conservation efforts. Former Singapore Zoo head Bernard Harrison said executives discussed the need to conserve animals inside their natural habitats as well as outside, in zoos. Funding was also an important topic.
USFWS Will Study Wolverines
February 21, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
MAZANA, Wash. - The USFWS has trapped its first wolverine in the Pacific Northwest and fitted it with a radio collar, in order to learn more about its habits, how far they travel, and what elevations they occupy. Keith Aubry, is heading the pilot study through the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station. The 19-pound female, measured nearly 3 feet from her nose to the tip of her 7-inch tail was named her Melanie. She will be tracked through July of 2007. Wolverines are the largest land-based member of the weasel family, and have a thick, brown coat with a light stripe down their backs. A candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act, wolverines have already disappeared from parts of their historical range, which once dipped down to the Sierra Nevadas in California, Aubry said.
Public Fights for Detroit Zoo
February 21, 2006 www.freep.com BY MARISOL BELLO and HUGH McDIARMID JR.
The Detroit City Council defended itself against a firestorm of angry complaints from city and suburban residents who don't want to see the more than 75-year-old institution closed. Zoo and city officials scrambled to come up with a compromise to keep the zoo open even as they moved ahead with plans to close it by late spring. State legislators, senators, and the governors office are also involved. Zoo officials said the institution could close to the public in May and be rid of its animals within a year if an operating solution can't be found. They will meet this morning to come up with a shutdown strategy. Meanwhile, as the angry calls and letters keep pouring in to the Detroit council and mayor's office, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration said they still are trying to convince council members to reconsider their vote, and several council members said they expect the city to return to the table with a revised proposal. As of Monday, no layoff notices had been sent out, but Short said they are expected to go out this week.
Status Determines Response in Macaques
February 21, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Scientists have found that monkeys respond more quickly to a target when they have seen another individual look at it. Now researchers at Duke University Medical Center have demonstrated that social status strongly determines how monkeys deploy their attention to others: high-status monkeys are slower and more selective about whose gaze they follow than are low-status monkeys. The study by Shepherd et al. is entitled "Social status gates social attention in monkeys" and is published in Current Biology 16, R119-R120, February 21, 2006. The findings indicate that gaze-following in monkeys is composed of both reflexive and voluntary elements. The study suggests that biological correlates of high social status, such as elevated levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, may suppress so-called "social vigilance," which is high in low-status males that readily follow the gaze of others.
Vehrs Defends Elephants at Reid Park
02.21.2006 www.azstarnet.com By Kristen Vehrs, AZA
TUCSON, AZ - Kristen Vehrs, interim executive director of the AZA feels the recent "controversy" about elephants is being created by a handful of animal-rights activists who have strategically chosen this species as their first target in a longer-term campaign to close zoos - all zoos. They claim that seeing an animal on television is just as good as experiencing animals in an up-close-and-personal setting. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association strongly disagrees. With a firmly rooted commitment to excellence in animal care, conservation and education, zoo association members like the Reid Park Zoo provide experiences that inspire respect for animals and nature. Together, we are building an important wildlife conservation movement, which can make a daily difference in the lives of our visitors and for animals all over the world. We believe strongly that elephants should be in our future - in zoos and in the wild - and by collaborating with caring, conservation-minded people, they will be. The AZA's "Standards for Elephant Management and Care" goes into effect May 1. Some zoos are electing to phase out their programs and concentrate their conservation work on other species. At the same time, more than 40 zoos nationwide are planning to expand or enhance their elephant conservation programs in the next five years, among them the Reid Park Zoo.
Surat Zoo Guards Against Bird Flu
February 22, 2006 cities.expressindia.com
Surat -- The Sarthana Nature Park and the Bird House at Chowk Bazaar are home to 600 birds - some of them rare and endangered - are preparing for a possible H5N1 encounter. Birds of various species are now being vaccinated and the area in and around the cages is being sprayed with disinfectants. To boost the resistance of the birds, the birds are being given anti-stress and multi-vitamin feed. SMC's Zoo Superintendent Dr Praful Mehta said, ''We have got both, the farm breeds as well as birds from the wild. Disinfectants are being sprayed regularly and special attention is on the feed given to the birds. Even the employees undergo health check-up. If need be, the birds will be vaccinated and quarantined", he said. Visitors have been strictly asked not to feed the birds. To keep the wild birds away, the zoo keepers remove any food that might tempt them. Zoo-keepers are given strict orders not to allow any wild birds inside the zoo.
Delhi Zoo Bans Poultry Products
February 22, 2006 www.financialexpress.com
NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 22: The Delhi Zoo has banned all poultry products from its premises after cases of bird flu were reported form Maharashtra on Saturday. Special teams of keepers have been formed to keep a watch on the birds in the zoo. Also, birds rescued by the Wildlife Department are not being accepted. Veterinarian Dr N. Paneerselvam of the Delhi Zoo said, "most of the animals eat beef here. Chicken meat being softer, we fed it to cubs. Now, we are boiling beef before serving them to the cubs." Other poultry products like eggs have also been banned. Paneerselvam added that currently there were only a few migratory birds in the zoo with most leaving in early February. Nonetheless, a monitoring team has been established and any bird showing symptom of the disease, it will be isolated and taken to the Bhopal lab if it dies." In addition the Zoo will no longer accept any birds rescued by the Wildlife Department, as we don't want to risk infection."
Chicago Zoo Chimp Tool Use
February 22, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By James Janega
Steve Ross, an ape behaviorist, wants to see if the chimps and gorillas at Lincoln Park Zoo can learn to crack nuts with heavy objects, a benchmark in primate tool use. Because rocks could be heaved through windows. He wound up creating an "aluminum potato" tool. The tools were introduced to zoo chimps Tuesday-- the potatoe-hammers, and a concrete pad. On Wednesday, Ross will demonstrate from behind a heavy cage door how to open a macadamia nut. Hopefully all of the zoo's chimps and gorillas will be able to repeat the trick - a combination of animal enrichment and visitor experience enhancement. The experiment is the latest in a series of studies into how fast and how much apes can learn. Chimpanzees at Lincoln Park Zoo regularly match icons on a touch screen for rewards, and some of the zoo's gorillas have used sticks to retrieve snacks from small holes.
Elephant Turf War
February 22, 2006 www.seattleweekly.com By Marisa McQuilken
In 1990, the AZA designated Woodland Park Zoo's elephant forest "best new exhibit." Today, Seattle's elephant quarters are under attack. The animal-rights organization In Defense of Animals has named Woodland Park Zoo one of the country's 10 worst for elephants. Some estimates gauge that wild elephants occupy areas as large as 12 square miles. Catherine Doyle of In Defense of Animals included Woodland Park because the zoo's long-term goal is to reduce the size of the elephant forest while also breeding more elephants. Woodland Park Zoo mammal curator Bruce Upchurch, who has worked with elephants for more than 20 years, refutes In Defense of Animals' assertions, claiming the zoo "definitely plans to expand the elephant facilities." The zoo's Long-Range Physical Development Plan calls for construction of a bull elephant barn and an exercise yard to accommodate the addition of male elephants for breeding. These areas would be used exclusively by bulls-except, of course, during mating-who naturally live apart from females. The development plan does not, however, include enlarging the existing elephant forest, which is home to the zoo's three females, and the plan does state there is a possibility that part of it will be used on "a rotational basis" with Asian rhinos.
Snakes Have Salmonella at Birth
February 22, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Scientists in Germany have found that a significant route of transmission of Salmonella in non egg-laying snakes is from the mother to the offspring during pregnancy and birth. Dr Matthias Schröter of the Institute of Public Health, Northrhine Westphalia in Germany is lead author of the study appearing in Environmental Microbiology.
Ohio State Ends Chimp Research
February 22, 2006 www.enn.com By Tom Doggett and Chris Baltimore, Reuters
WASHINGTON - Ohio State University said on Tuesday it was closing its chimpanzee research program and sending its remaining nine chimps to a special sanctuary where they will no longer be used for research. The university said it was following the lead of other institutions. "In recent years, research institutions across the country -- including the Air Force, the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- have elected to reduce the amount of primate research they conduct and retire many of their animals." Ohio State is paying for construction of an appropriate home in San Antonio, Texas. They are also paying for medical exams and shipping, and providing an endowment to support the animals. The chimpanzees, who live in a family-like group, will be taken to Primarily Primates, Inc., which is north of San Antonio. William Yonushonis is the director of Animal Resources at OSU.
Biblical Zoo puts giraffe on birth control
February 23, 2006 www.jpost.com By AP
JERUSALEM -- The giraffe population has tripled to nine in recent years at the Jerusalem Zoo, and 5year-old Shavit, who has given birth twice in 4 years, has been darted with a year-long dose of birth control hormones. Zoo spokeswoman Sigalit Dzir said there isn't enough room for more and zoo keepers are worried about inbreeding. Two giraffes have been sent to Singapore but most American and European zoos don't want animals from Israel because of the risk of foot-and-mouth disease, and the difficulties of such a long transport. Other zoos also administer birth control, but dart delivery is unique, said Dr. Nili Avnimagen, the zoo's head vet.
Edinburgh Zoo Redevelopment
February 23, 2006 news.scotsman.com
Although it is impossible to replicate the conditions that many species enjoy in the wild, public attitudes are changing and zoo visitors no longer find it acceptable or exciting to view animals in cramped quarters, behind bars. Modern zoos need to display them in an environment which satisfies public expectations. Edinburgh's recently unveiled 20-year master plan has a strong focus on establishing an updated complex with a centre for conservation. Great care and planning has gone into the plans to house such giants as manatees, rhinos, giraffes and more polar bears, a challenge that it is doubtless aware of and is prepared to meet. The zoo regularly attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year and through the investment of £58 million it hopes this will increase to almost 900,000, generating £40m for the Edinburgh economy. Edinburgh already houses 1000 endangered animals, and is ready to expand its role in conservation and breeding programs both in situ and ex situ.
Edinburgh's New Chimp Enclosure
February 23, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
Edinburgh's 20-year-redevelopment will begin with a £5.5m state-of-the-art chimpanzee enclosure. Also planned is a new polar bear unit, which activists say reneges on a promise by the zoo not to replace Britain's last polar bear. The zoo will be organized into four zones themed on different habitats - grasslands, woodlands, tropical rainforests and oceans/wetlands. All will be linked by a circular roadway and each area will feature a central "node" with a shop, cafeteria and children's play area, all themed to the particular zone. The main entrance to the zoo is to be relocated to a major new plaza, and the Mansion House, a listed building at the heart of the site, and the famous penguin pool are expected to remain as they are now.
Animal Rights Activist Banned from Philly Zoo
February 23, 2006 www.centredaily.com By Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - An animal-rights activist has been barred from the Philadelphia Zoo because she wrote that the zoo's director should have "nightmares every night until you die, which should be very soon." Marianne Bessey, an attorney and leader of Friends of Philly Elephants, posted the message in an online chat room. Zoo officials regularly monitor the chat room and filed a police complaint after seeing the posting about zoo director Pete Hoskins. Hoskins called the remarks "out of order," but declined to comment further.
Britain Adapts to Bird Flu
February 23, 2006 www.latimes.com
LONDON - The ravens at the Tower of London have been moved indoors to custom-built aviaries as a precaution against bird flu, the tower's raven master said - even though the disease has not spread to Britain. According to legend, if the ravens leave the 11th-century fortress on the River Thames, its White Tower will crumble and the Kingdom of England will fall. King Charles II decreed in the 17th century that there must always be six ravens at the Tower. The jet-black birds are a familiar feature at the landmark, which has served as arsenal, palace, prison, zoo and, more recently, tourist attraction. At least 15 nations have reported outbreaks in birds this month, an indication that the virus, which has killed more than 90 people, is spreading faster. Migratory birds are thought to be at least one way the disease is being carried. More than 30 countries have reported cases since 2003, seven of which have recorded human infections. Hungary said Tuesday that tests showed the virus in three dead swans found last week, and Croatia confirmed H5N1 in a dead swan on an island in the Adriatic.
Orangutan Mother Finally Accepts Baby
February 23, 2006 www.jacksonholestartrib.com By AP
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Hogle Zoo's orangutan Eve gave birth to Acara by Caesarean section last Mother's Day, but because she had been anesthetized, the 15-year-old mother did not recognize the baby as hers. So twenty staff members and 12 volunteers have spent the last nine months hand-raising Acara and training the pair to coexist. "The progress was very slow from the get-go," said Erin Jones, part of Hogle Zoo's animal-care staff. "We had to take very tiny steps. Everytime Eve looked at Acara, we'd reward her. It was hard to take nine months of tiny steps." Volunteer Pat Meekins took turns with other trainers wearing a faux-fur vest, modeled after Eve, to feed, train and care for Acara. Training involved getting the baby Bornean orangutan to grab the vest's fur, grasp a trainer's arm or crawl around her jungle gym.
Twycross Becomes World Primate Centre
Feb 23 2006 iccoventry.icnetwork.co.uk By Sian Powell
TWYCROSS ZOO has officially incorporated a new title in its name in recognition of the work it does. The world-famous zoo, off the A444 near Nuneaton, has the largest collection of monkey and ape species in the world - reflected in the title, The World Primate Centre. New signage which incorporates a monkey's tail in the zoo's logo. Future plans at the zoo include the launch of the Conservation Welfare Fund in the spring. Zoo director Suzanne Boardman said the fund would provide £1million each year to fund projects aimed at the conservation and welfare of endangered species. She said: "Our ultimate goal will be to help to secure the future of five endangered primate species."
'Noah's Ark' Seed Project
February 23, 2006 www.enn.com By Jeremy Lovell, Reuters
ARDINGLY, England - So far the Millennium Seed Bank has squirreled away 750 million seeds from 14,000 species of plants and trees, and the botanists are confident they will hit their target of 30,000 species or 10 percent of the world's flora by 2010. But then the money runs out. And for the seed bank's new boss Paul Smith, it is his biggest challenge. He wants to collect 20 percent of the world's flora by 2020, and needs another 50 million pounds. "That is just 2,000 pounds per species. It is very good value. We are the biggest seed bank in the world: we have the facilities, the expertise and the network of international governments and institutions worldwide. Most of the original money for the project came from Britain's national lottery. But it was only for the initial phase and now Smith is looking for new donors like Microsoft's Bill Gates, the UK government and the European Union.
Greenland Starts Quota to Save Polar Bears
February 23, 2006 www.enn.com By Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Greenland's government has established the island's first hunting quota for polar bears. The figure for 2006 is set at 150 animals. Only Greenlanders with valid hunting permits can obtain permission to shoot a bear. Previously, local Inuit hunters have killed about 250 bears annually in the semiautonomous Danish territory. The animals are shot for their skin and meat. The quota was introduced to protect the species' survival in Greenland as their natural habitat comes under threat from climate change in the Arctic. Scientists say global warming is melting the ice cap on which the bears hunt, making it difficult for them to find food. There are an estimated 7,500 polar bears in Greenland -- the world's largest island -- mainly in the northern and eastern part.
Chimp Haven in Financial Trouble
February 23, 2006 www.shreveporttimes.com
Chimp Haven, is a non-profit retirement home for chimpazees. Since November, Chimp Haven has trimmed the payroll, closed an office and taken out a loan to help cover construction costs. Linda Koebner, the organization's former executive director, and two other longtime employees were fired when their jobs were eliminated in November. Chimp Haven President Linda Brent said the job eliminations were part of a staff reorganization to cut costs but declined to discuss personnel issues. Since November, the organization moved its office to the sanctuary site near Keithville, scaled back the second phase of construction on chimp housing and took out a $1 million line of credit to pay the costs of phase two construction so far. In January, Chimp Haven kicked off an effort to raise $2.5 million to finish out the second set of residence buildings for the chimps and repay the line of credit. The effort has generated about $100,000 to date.
Zoos Save Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs
February 24, 2006 www.latimes.com By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO - The 2003 Southern California wild fires devastated the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana mucosa). Already on the endangered list in the San Bernardino Mountains, the frog is thought to have been nearly wiped out by the fire. But luckily, researchers from the U.S.G.S. Survey spotted seven as morphs - the stage between tadpole and frog - in a shallow pool near City Creek not long after the fire. Figuring the small animals might not survive the winter, the researchers got federal and state approval to evacuate them to the Los Angeles Zoo. This was a good move, because the mud and ash that lingered in the fire-stricken areas were deadly to many animals that had survived the flames. (In all, 11 morphs were rescued; four of them died later.) Now the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Zoo's Conservation and Research for Endangered Species program, in cooperation with state and federal wildlife agencies, hopes to save the frog. They are being housed and closely watched in tanks at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, and being fattened on a diet of crickets so they can produce enough frogs to possibly start a new colony in the City Creek area of the San Bernardinos. So far, progress has been good. The frogs' fungus infections are clearing up, and they are gaining weight. The remaining yellow-leggeds in the wild also are being attacked by a fatal fungus - Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis - that is devastating frog populations worldwide. Scientists think the fungus has existed for decades but burst out in a lethal form, in Southern California and elsewhere, more recently. "Amphibians are a lot more difficult to maintain than a snake, lizard or another herp," said frog project leader Jeffrey Lemm, one of the San Diego Zoo's herpetologists.
Mysore Zoo Studies Stress in Animals
February 24, 2006 www.deccanherald.com By Shankar Bennur
Mysore, INDIA -- While research on zoo animal stress issues has been done in countries like the United States, Canada, Germany and Kenya, such research has been very limited in India. But now the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA) has approved a Mysore Zoo proposal for undertaking non-invasive hormonal behavioral studies on a few groups of animals at the zoo. The CZA also wants the study to be undertaken in prominent zoos of South India - Chennai, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. The study at Mysore will be conducted by Dr V A Vijayan and Dr H N Yajurvedi from the Department of Zoology, the University of Mysore. The project aims to monitor fecal gluco-corticoid hormones by Elisa technique. "This is a fairly recent development which provides valuable information on stress or distress in animals," according to Dr Vijayan and Dr Yajurvedi. Three groups of animals will be selected for the study - tiger, leopard and wild dogs.
Mammalian Ancestor Lived with Dinosaurs
February 24, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Scientists uncovered fossils of a swimming, fish-eating mammal that lived in China fully 164 million years ago, well before it was thought that some mammals could have spent much of their lives in water. The extinct species had a broad, scaly tail, flat like a beaver's, sharp teeth like an otter's, and Its likely lifestyle - burrowing in tunnels on shore and dog-paddling in water - reminds scientists of the modern platypus. Its skeleton was about 20 inches long, from snout to the tip of its tail, about the length of a small house cat. The discovery was made in 2004 in the fossil beds of Liaoning Province, China, and is being reported in the journal Science by an international team led by Ji Qiang of Nanjing University. Despite similarities with some modern animals, the Jurassic mammal has no modern descendants and is not related to any existing species. The discoverers have given it the name Castorocauda lutrasimilis, Latin for beaver tail and similarity to the otter.
3 New Species Of Lemurs
February 24, 2006 www.sciencedaily.com
In a study published today in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, a team of researchers from Madagascar and Europe identified 3 new species of lemurs based on differences in a specific gene sequence. The new species also live in distinct geographical areas. They had not been identified from morphological differences or chromosome profiles. These findings have important implications, as a better knowledge of lemur species characteristics will provide the basis for better conservation programs for these endangered animals. The article is entitled: Molecular phylogeny and taxonomic revision of the sportive lemurs (Lepilemur, Primates) An international team comprising researchers from Madagascar, Germany, France and Switzerland classified individual lemurs on the basis of either their chromosome profile, called a 'karyotype', or the sequence of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The team analysed the karyotypes of 99 individuals from all currently recognised species of lemur and the cytochrome b gene was sequenced in 68 individuals. From the karyotypic profiles, Andriaholinirina et al. could identify individuals belonging to the eight currently recognised species of lemurs. On the basis of genetic differences in cytochrome b gene, however, the researchers identified three distinct species within the former species Lepilemur ruficaudatus and two distinct species within the former L. dorsalis. The newly identified species live in different geographic areas, separated by rivers, but show no obvious morphological differences.
New Malaysian Zoo in Kelantan
February 25, 2006 news.xinhuanet.com/English
KUALA LUMPUR -- The Malaysian government plans to build its biggest zoo in the northern Kelantan state on a 40 hectare site in Machang county. The project will begin in the later half of the year and is expected to cost 6.64 million US dollars. The new zoo is expected to be 3 times larger than the national zoo in Kuala Lumpur and should generate local jobs and business opportunities.
Supporters Flock to Detroit Zoo
February 26, 2006 www.detnews.com
ROYAL OAK -- Michigan residents are concerned about the fate of the Detroit Zoo after the Detroit City Council rejected a rescue plan last week. Thousands of them defied the cold weather to show their support all last week. The zoo is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays while winter hours are in effect, but on Wednesday, attendance was up tenfold from the same time a year ago. According to Detroit Zoological Society spokeswoman Patricia Mills, attendance was 174 on Feb. 22, 2005, and 1,762 for the same date this year. Similar increases were recorded for Thursday, with the figure up from 126 in 2005 to 1,832 this year. Friday's attendance was 881, up from 66 last year, while on Saturday, attendance was 992, up slightly from 559 last year. Mills said the winter school break, plus February's milder than normal temperatures, might have played into the spike in attendance, but she's sure concerns about the zoo's future also played a part. "There's been a lot of positive exposure in the media about the zoo this week, and that helps everyone to remember what a treasure it is," Mills said. Mills said there have been numerous calls from people asking what they can do to support the 125-acre nature habitat.
Predators keep the world green
February 27, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
DURHAM, N.C. -- Predators keep the numbers of plant-eating herbivores under control, according to a research team lead by John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. The researchers studied a Venezuelan reservoir valley that was flooded 20 years ago by a hydroelectric project. The research is reported in the March 2006 issue of the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology. The "green world hypothesis" was first proposed in 1960 by US scientists Hairston, smith and Slobodkin but has been impossible to prove until now. The debate has been whether herbivores are limited by plant defenses or by predators. The authors write that "The matter is trivially simple in principle, but in practice the challenge of experimentally creating predator-free environments in which herbivores can increase without constraint has proven almost insurmountable." Information collected for the Journal of Ecology report is a five-year update of results published by Terborgh and 10 other scientists in the Nov. 30, 2001, issue of the journal Science.
Tasmanian Devils Spread Cancer by Biting
February 27, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com Richard A. Lovett
"Devil facial-tumor disease", first seen in the Tasmanian Devil in 1996 has spread rapidly among Tasmania's 150,000 animals. Anne-Maree Pearse, a biologist at Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Water, and Environment, and coworker Kate Swift believe the animals inject cancer cells into each other when they engage in mouth-to-mouth mating battles. Cancer cells from a diseased animal become implanted into the bite wound, and grow into new tumors. It's a process similar to that by which human tumors multiply within a single individual: by shedding cells that move through the bloodstream. The idea that something like this could be happening via bites, however, is new. The smoking gun lies in the tumor cells' chromosomes. Tasmanian devils normally have 14 chromosomes. But the cancer cells contain only thirteen. And those 13 are "grossly abnormal," Pearse wrote in the new study reported this month of the journal Nature. Pat Morris, director of veterinary services for the San Diego Zoo said "More research is needed, but I believe they are on the right track as far as identifying tumor transmission from animal to animal as the most likely reason," he said. Morris believes it would be wise to begin a captive breeding program as soon as possible-a safeguard in case the wild population is wiped out by the cancer. Unless someone comes up with an easy way to distinguish healthy animals from those in the early, nonvisible stages of the disease, even captive breeding may be impossible. He also recommends collecting fibroblasts (a type of skin cell) from healthy devils so that, if all else fails, the species might someday be resurrected by cloning. "That's a dream now, but we expect that at some time science will make it possible," he said.
Gunmen Rob Guyana Zoo
February 27th 2006 www.stabroeknews.com
GUYANA, South America -- Five men armed with rifles yesterday morning invaded the Guyana zoo and escaped with over $200,000 after tying up and beating three security guards on duty. A senior official of the National Parks Commission (NPC), which oversees the operations of the Zoo, said the bandits entered the compound through the back gate struck around 3 am. They cut the grillwork of the main administrative building and cut open the safe. The official said the money was the earnings from Friday and Saturday. The bandits also ransacked the ticket booth and upturned desks and drawers during the attack, which lasted for about 30 minutes. Both the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo were open to the public yesterday.
Winter at the Nashville Zoo
February 27, 2006 www.rctimes.com By AMBER NORTH and NICOLE GARTON
Every morning throughout the winter, zookeepers follow strict protocol to determine whether each animal can come out of their climate-controlled quarters "The way the weather is here, 60 degrees one day and 30 the next," presents an extra challenge for keepers. Above 50 degrees, we're pretty much business as usual," says zoo spokesman Jim Bartoo. One exception is the meerkats, whose habitat includes a heat rock - "You'll see them out there huddled up in the mornings," LaFlamme says - and a network of tunnels they've excavated themselves to use for shelter. They decide on their own when it's time to go indoors. Another is the big cats, including the clouded leopard and the red panda, which generally stay out all the time and can even become more active in cooler weather. Where things get tricky is when you get to the tropical birds. "The birds are probably the most delicate. We keep a lot of the bird species in until it's 45 degrees," Philipp says. Primates are another less-acclimated group. The lemurs can't come outside until 55 degrees. And while the white-cheeked gibbons can if it's 40 degrees and sunny, they need access to their holding pen until the thermometer hits 45.
Elephant Exhibits Endangered
February 27, 2006 www.cbsnews.com
Animal rights activists and zoo managers are engaged in a battle of wills. CBS Early Show's resident veterinarian Debbye Turner examined the issues and found them to be quite complicated. Most people would never see an elephant if it weren't for zoos. But elephants are a complex species and not every zoo has the space or resources to care for them properly. Turner's research took her to the Oregon Zoo. Elephant keeper Bob Lee cares for seven elephants with daily exercise and enrichment. But the fact is, most zoo elephants have limited space. "Elephants simply do not do well in captivity. They're very social animals and they're used to living in herds," said Michael McGraw of PETA. "No matter how big zoos make their enclosures, no matter how much money they spend trying to improve the elephants' quality of life, it will never compare to how these animals are able to live their lives in the wild." The deputy director of the Oregon Zoo, Mike Keele, concedes that elephants don't belong in every zoo.
Dead Elephant Calf Removed
February 28, 2006 www.10nbc.com
Seven veterinarians from Rochester, Florida, Missouri and Canada, along with nine staff members from Seneca Park Zoo operated on Seneca Park Zoo's 28 year-old African Elephant to remove her 248-pound dead calf. The veterinarians felt that the male calf had moved far enough into their birth canal so that they could make an incision and pull the calf out. The calf was removed this weekend and Genny C has survived the crucial first 72 post-operative hours. This dangerous situation has occurred 10 times to elephants in captivity. Three of those times vets left the calf inside the elephant and all three times the mother elephant died. Of the seven times vets performed the surgery the mother survived four times. Seneca Park Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Wyatt said it should take her about a year to fully recover from the operation. Zoo officials say the surgery was successful and Genny C recovered within 20 minutes after the reversal of the anesthetic. She is being given antibiotics to prevent possible infection and is being monitored 24 hours a day. Zoo officials also say Genny C is eating and drinking normally and her prognosis for recovery is good. "She's doing extremely well. She remains on antibiotics and stall rest so she's quiet and calm. But she's behaving normally. She's playful and interacting with her keepers and the other elephant, Lilac.
Chattanooga Zoo's $2.9 Million Expansion
February 28, 2006 www.chattanoogan.com
The Chattanooga Zoo is planning a $2.9 million expansion including a new entry off Holtzclaw Avenue. Darde Long, Zoo executive director, said it will include a new African penquin exhibit, an extinct animal carousel, concessions, gift shop and ticketing area.The bulk of the money will be raised privately. An application will be made for a $550,000 Kresge grant.
Fuzhou Zoo Expansiion
February 28, 2006 www.chinadaily.com.cn By Li Dapeng (China Daily)
FUZHOU: The 4 hectare Fuzhou Zoo in the capital city of East China's Fujian Province will soon relocate to a 53 hectare site in the city. Founded in 1956, the zoo has more than 900 animals including rare South China tigers, Asian elephants, leopards and red-crowned cranes. Chen Guichun, director with the zoo's administration section, said crowding and poor conditions have had a negative impact on the animals. Bids on the new design are expected to be complete in March and construction will begin next year, which is predicted to cost at US$6.22 million, according to Fuzhou Municipal Bureau of Parks.
Taronga Zoo's condor learns to fly
February 28, 2006 www.theage.com.au
Zoo trainers have started Lesley on an intensive 15-week training program to teach her to fly on command, leaving her trainer to fly over a Mosman park and land on a bench in the same park. Her reward is mince balls and mice. "At the moment they (the trainers) are working on her take-off technique," Taronga Zoo spokeswoman Danielle McGill said. "Condors are the heaviest birds in the world so just getting them up in the air is a big challenge." Lesley weighs 9 kilos. Lesley and her parents Bruce and Connie, who also live at the zoo, are among just six Andean Condors living in captivity in Australia. The bird has been listed as an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife service since 1973.
Primates harvest bee nests in Uganda
February 28, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Robert Kajobe of the Dutch Tropical Bee Research Unit and David Roubik from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute report that chimpanzees and humans regularly harvest the nests of African honeybees in the March, 2006 issue of Biotropica. Batwa Pygmies, who have traditionally harvested honey for food, located 228 bee nests (both honeybees and stingless bees) in the Bwindi-Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda for the study. African honeybees coexist with five or more species of honey-making stingless bees in their native habitat. Chimps in the Park peel and chew the tips of vines and twigs to make honey dipsticks. Roubik notes that indigenous groups in the Americas use similar honey brushes to harvest honey in areas where Africanized bees are relative newcomers. "Bwindi-Impenetrable is the only place on earth where gorillas, chimps and humans partition forest resources. Given the importance of honey as one of the most concentrated sources of sugar and protein in the forest, and the fact that the park management plan allows collection of non-timber forest products, there is an abysmal lack of ecological information about the role of honey-making bees and the role of their natural predators in this ecosystem. "Most studies of stingless bees have been undertaken in South America and south-east Asia and have ignored the ecology and context of Afro-tropical stingless bee species, particularly in equatorial regions. I hope this is just the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration that will make a significant contribution to Afro-tropical bee research," Kajobe writes.
Another Fertile Condor Egg at Oregon Zoo
March 1, 2006 www.oregonlive.com By KATY MULDOON
A 30-year-old female California condor named laid Feb. 16 at the Oregon Zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation is expected to hatch in about 2 months. The chick will be the fifth hatched at this facility which is one of four captive-breeding sites nationwide. The most recent condor count, taken on November 30, 2005, determined the population to be 273 birds; 146 in captivity and 127 flying free in California, Arizona and Mexico. Tama is estimated to be more than 30 years old. About two weeks ago, keepers suspected there was an egg as they watched Tama and her mate, Mandan, take turns spending time in the nest box -- a dark, wood cave built high off the ground. The nest is equipped with a surveillance camera, but she'd laid the egg just out of the camera's range. The next day, keepers waited until the birds left the nest, then looked inside, found the egg and gave it a quick once-over before returning it. "The egg looked great," said Shawn St. Michael, assistant condor curator. "It has a thick shell, with no flaws or thin spots." Eight days later, keepers again snatched the pale gray-green, fist-sized egg, which weighs a little less than 10 ounces. They "candled" it, holding it up to a bright light. Through the shell, they saw what they wanted: a pea-sized embryo. Keepers placed it in an electric incubator, where it will stay until shortly before it's ready to hatch. With the egg gone, Tama and Mandan may be inclined to breed again, doing their part for their endangered species.
Flamingo Deaths in Bahamas
March 1, 2006 www.enn.com By John Marquis, Reuters
NASSAU, Bahamas - Over the past two days, 15 flamingos, five roseate spoonbills and one cormorant have been found dead with no external injuries on the island of Inagua, just north of Haiti. Scientists from the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Health will gather samples from the birds and then submit them for H5N1analysis. Inagua is the second largest breeding ground for flamingos outside of Africa. Although the three species affected on the island are not migratory birds, Bannister said they come into contact with geese and ducks that migrate to Inagua during the winter.
Bird Flu Kills Housecat in Germany
March 1, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Richard A. Lovett
A dead pet cat from Rügen, a Baltic Sea island north of Berlin, has tested positive for H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. The domestic pet is the first mammal known to die of the disease in Europe. Cats, including tigers and panthers, have died of bird flu in Thailand. In Germany more than a hundred wild birds have died of avian influenza, most of them on Rügen. Authorities there have been rushing to remove bird carcasses in an attempt to stave off incidents like the infection of the housecat. "It isn't easy for a cat to become infected," Michael Schmidt, a virologist at Berlin's Free University, told the English-language edition of ANE. "Probably the cat ate a highly infectious animal." Lonnie King, dean of Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine said there was no reason to panic. "We don't know the circumstances of this animal," he said, noting that the animal might have been exposed to a very high dose of the virus, or suffering from some other disease that weakened the cat's immune system. From a medical point of view, King added, the big concern is that, the longer the H5N1 strain continues to infect birds, the more chance there is for it to change into something more capable of direct transmission from mammal to mammal, which would greatly increase the odds of a human bird flu pandemic.
Mesker Park Zoo's Amazonia Exhibit
March 1, 2006 www.14wfie.com By Emily Sinovic
EVANSVILLE, Indiana -- Mesker Zoo officials hope to break ground on the new Amazonia rain forest exhibit this year, adding more than fourteen acres of South American plants and animals, a few jaguars, and a sloth to the zoo's inhabitants. Dan McGinn, the zoo's director, says, "We believe that if we can build Amazonia, it will reestablish Mesker Park Zoo as a regional tourist attraction." Unfortunately the 4 bids that were made on the 3-year project were all higher than expected. McGinn plans to take all four the parks board, the mayor and city council, to figure out the budget for the project. They're working with a deadline and a fixed amount of bond money, so there is no room to negotiate. In two years, the zoo has to start returning some of that money if they haven't used it.
Michigan Zoo's Future Uncertain
March 1, 2006 www.wilx.com By Dan Ponce
LANSING, Michigan - Lansing is looking at big budget cuts and relinquishing control of the zoo could potentially money. So there is now a good possibility the city will have to hand over control to the Potter Park Zoological Society, a private organization. Diane McNeil, the executive director, said the society will do whatever is best for the zoo, and if that means taking over all financial responsibility from the city, then they'll do their best. But she added the transition would have to be gradual in terms of finances. In 2005, it took $2.2 million to run the zoo. They brought in $538,000 thousand dollars from parking and admissions. So that means the society would have to come up with almost $1.7 million. Detroit recently experienced a similar problem
Legislating Elephant Exhibit Size
March 1, 2006 www.dailynews.com By Harrison Sheppard
SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, has authored a bill that would require zoos throughout California to expand their elephant habitats - potentially costing millions of dollars or forcing them to close. Levine's bill would require zoos to maintain at least five acres for up to three elephants - with another half-acre for every additional elephant - a standard that exceeds current practice at most zoos in the state. Some zoo officials say the standard is excessive, but Levine and animal-rights groups argue most zoos provide insufficient space for the massive animals, which roam many miles every day in the wilds of Africa and Asia. The Los Angeles Zoo is currently studying expansion options for its elephant exhibit. The current plan to build a new two-acre exhibit for $19 million has been put on hold and is a year behind schedule. A recent report from the City Administrative Officer has recommended instead that a three-acre exhibit be built for more than $33 million to give the animals more space. By comparison, the San Diego Zoo currently provides one acre of land for three elephants. Other states and cities are examining the issue as well. Chicago, for example, is considering a city ordinance to require 10 acres per elephant.
Detroit City Council Approves Zoo Deal
March 2, 2006 www.freep.com BY MARISOL BELLO and HUGH McDIARMID JR.
After weeks of political negotiations and fighting the Detroit City Council has agreed by a 6-3 vote to transfer daily operations of the Detroit Zoo to the non-profit Detroit Zoological. Under the transfer agreement, the city will retain ownership of the zoo and all its assets. The zoological society will essentially be the zoo management. Detroit Zoological Society Chairman Gail Warden said, "I think the support exhibited by the entire community ... is a strong indication that people want to save the zoo." The first step is to secure the $4 million in state money the zoo lost because the council rejected the first proposal nearly two weeks ago. Warden has said for the zoo to survive the next year, it will need the state aid, plus almost $2 million from grants and private donors. But the onetime state grant is no longer a sure thing. Lawmakers who approved the original money as part of a larger budget vote may hesitate to support a zoo-only bill -- especially legislators from outside southeast Michigan. Zoo officials have said the money -- and another $4 million in state aid next year -- is essential to help fill a $5-million annual shortfall caused by the city's funding pullout. They also maintain that if the zoo is to survive in the long run, it will need steady funding from a regional tax millage that could encompass Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties, or the seven-county southeastern Michigan area. Zoo officials said they would begin work to convince voters to approve a tax that would raise up to $7 million a year.
Endangered Species Act IS Effective
March 2, 2006 www.csmonitor.com By Mark Clayton
The Endangered Species Act has recently been criticized by some politicians as wasting taxpayers' money, producing lawsuits and doing little to help endangered species, but an independent study released Tuesday by the Center for Biological Diversity based in Tucson, Arizona, shows that populations of most listed species in the Northeast improved significantly under the ESA, specifically the bald eagle. Other species are stabilizing. The study compiles federal, state, and university research to provide long-term population trend data for the large majority of endangered species in the Northeast. At least 38 of 41 endangered species in the Northeast have increased in number or maintained stable populations since being listed, the report says. About 7 percent of species are in decline. No species has become extinct since being listed. The analysis included all species for which there were at least six years of data and a recovery timeline, comprising 73 percent of those listed.
March 2, 2006 www.mpg.de/english
In a new study to be published in Science on 3 March 2006, Alicia Melis and co-authors from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany show that our close relatives, chimpanzees, are much better cooperators than we thought. 'We've never seen this level of understanding during cooperation in any other animals except humans,' says Melis. Cooperation happens all the time in the animal kingdom. A pride of lions cooperates to hunt down a gazelle. A herd of elephants band together to protect themselves from predators. But there may not be much thinking going on behind this kind of cooperation. It could be that by each animal wanting the same thing and working at the same time, success happens by accident. In Melis' study which took place at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda, not only did chimpanzees understand when they needed help, they understood their role, their partner's role, and chose who they wanted to work with.
New Evolutionary Tree from EMBL
March 2, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
In 1870 the German scientist Ernst Haeckel mapped the evolutionary relationships of plants and animals in the first 'tree of life'. Since then scientists have continuously redrawn and expanded the tree adding microorganisms and using modern molecular data. "DNA sequences of complete genomes provide us with a direct record of evolution", says Peer Bork, Associate Coordinator for Structural and Computational Biology at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The group developed a computational method that resolves many of the questions surrounding evolutionary relationships and has produced the most accurate tree ever. The study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Science, gives some intriguing insights into the origins of bacteria and the last common universal ancestor of all life on earth today.
Disease surveillance needs a revolution
March 2, 2004 www.nature.com/nature By Declan Butler
Avian flu is now endemic across large parts of Asia, and in the past few weeks has invaded Europe and Africa. The crisis has exposed glaring deficiencies in the monitoring of emerging diseases in developing countries and has caused scientists to re-evaluate the world's veterinary and disease-surveillance systems. Researchers at the US Department of Defense have suggested setting up a network of high-tech labs in developing countries to monitor cases of infectious disease. The labs would be modelled on the US network of infectious-disease labs, such as the naval research unit NAMRU-2 in Jakarta, but funded by the international community. Such a network could vastly speed up and improve the diagnosis of viruses such as H5N1 when outbreaks occur, says Roeder. He points out that misdiagnosis of H5N1 as Newcastle disease in recent outbreaks in Nigeria and India led to long delays in control measures.
Bighorns Thriving in Montana
3 March, 2006 sciencenow.sciencemag.org By Katherine Unger
Although historically numerous in the western United States, bighorn sheep were in trouble by 1922, because of domestic sheep diseases, hunting, and habitat loss. By that date they had been eliminated from places such as the National Bison Range (NBR) in northwestern Montana. Wildlife managers hoping to nurse the population back to health transplanted 12 sheep from Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada in that year. The herd waxed and waned in isolation until 1985, when scientists introduced new blood in the form of 5 rams from other herds in Montana and Wyoming. Over the next decade, 10 more sheep were introduced. Conservation biologist John Hogg of the Montana Conservation Science Institute in Missoula has studied the NBR bighorns for more than 20 years. Armed with the pedigree of every lamb born since 1979, his team used genetic paternity tests and field observations of courtships and births to assess how well the bighorns reproduced. They found the most outbred rams--descendants of introduced sheep--fathered 2.6 times as many healthy lambs as did the most inbred rams, and the most outbred ewes gave birth to 2.2 times as many healthy lambs as their inbred counterparts did. Outbred females also produced lambs nearly a kilogram heavier than did inbred moms. "I was surprised at the magnitude of the effect," Hogg says.
Artificial light Effects Nocturnal Wildlife
Mar. 03, 2006 www.sunherald.com BY PAT BRENNAN
SANTA ANA, Calif. - "Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting" is a new book that the latest scientific information on the effects of nighttime light on wild species. Astronomers have been concerned about increasing light pollution for some time. "There are almost no dark places in Orange County," says U.S. Geological Survey research scientist Robert Fisher, a co-author of the chapter on reptiles. "The only dark places on the coast are on Camp Pendleton. And even there, you're getting glare from L.A., Orange County, San Diego and Riverside." Los Angeles conservationist Catherine Rich, and her husband, biogeographer Travis Longcore, spent 4 years gathering contributions from 24 scientists on the subject. The USFWS considers light pollution in the design wildlife reserves. Biologists at the agency will be looking at the books finding in the design of the wildlife reserve proposed for southern Orange County. As for those mockingbirds, males seeking mates sing at night anyway, light pollution or not.
New Shark Species Discovered
March 03, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
MEXICO CITY - A Mexican marine biologist has discovered a new shark species in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, the first new shark find in 34 years. Postgraduate student Juan Carlos Perez was on a fishing boat in early 2003 studying sharks from the Mustelus family netted at depths of 660 feet when he noticed some of them had darker skin and white markings. The sharks, slender, dark gray-brown and around 5 feet long, turned out to be a new species that Perez and his team have named "Mustelus hacat," after the word for shark in a local Indian dialect. The find was confirmed six months later after genetic tests. Perez studied around 40 of the sharks from 2003 to 2005. Two or three new shark species are discovered each year but Perez's find -- bringing to five the types of Mustelus shark found in the eastern North Pacific -- is the first shark discovery in the Sea of Cortez since the tiny Mexican Horn Shark (Heterodontus mexicanus) was identified in 1972. There are some 50 to 60 species of shark in the Sea of Cortez, a narrow body of water also known as the Gulf of California that separates Mexico's Baja California peninsula from the mainland and is famous for its rich and unique ecosystem.
Kihansi Toad Recovery at Bronx Zoo
March 3, 2006 www.sciencemag.org By Kevin Krajick
BRONX ZOO, NEW YORK CITY-- The Kihansi spray toad, Nectophrynoides asperginis, is found in Kihansi Gorge, in Tanzania's remote Udzungwa Mountains. For millions of years a great waterfall filled this gorge with a spray of water and wind, creating a singular environment where the toad and other endemic creatures lived. In 2000, a hydropower dam cut off 90% of the water, destroying the unique ecosystem. Scientists have managed to raise the toads in captivity, document the changes to their ecosystem, and even engineered the world's largest sprinkler system in the gorge. In December 2000, the Tanzanian government allowed the Wildlife Conservation Society to collect 500 animals for breeding in U.S. zoos. But captive amphibians are difficult to raise, and the animals soon were plagued with lungworms, infections, bone problems, intestinal parasites, and nutritional deficiencies. They would not breed predictably. By spring 2004, the Bronx and Toledo (Ohio) zoos had the only survivors--about 70. So the Bronx Zoo called in the Coriell Institute, a Camden, New Jersey, human genetics outfit that preserves cell lines for research. Their staff created cell lines from dying toads, in hopes that technology would one day permit cloning the cells back into whole creatures. But the cell lines all died. The zoo also farmed out a dozen tiny corpses to Valerie Clark, a Coriell chemist who studies potentially valuable bioactive substances harbored by amphibians. By 2005, Keepers had devised treatments for various ailments and discovered that although the standard zoo ultraviolet lamps were too big and crude, the toads liked basking in the narrow beams of little 12-volt track-light bulbs. Slowly, the toads started having babies--so small that keepers at first thought they were ants. Now, between the two zoos, there are about 300 toads (159 at the Bronx facility).
National Zoo Inseminates Elephant
March 4, 2006 msnbc.msn.com By Reuters
WASHINGTON - Shanthi, a 30-year-old, 9,000-pound Asian elephant was restrained in a training chute while National Zoo vets and a team of German veterinary scientists used ultrasound and a catheter for a 45-minute artificial insemination procedure. "We've got another semen sample that's being flown in from Tulsa (Oklahoma), so we'll be doing another one tonight," spokeswoman Peper Long said on Friday. Hormonal analysis will determine if Shanthi has conceived, but that won't be possible for about 4 months. The gestation period for elephants is about 22 months.
Proposed US law on Elephant Exhibits
March 4, 2006 www.nctimes.com By: ANDREA MOSS
The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido are among the facilities that would be affected by Assembly Bill 3027. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) introduced the bill also known as the Elephant Protection Act in the Legislature Feb. 24. , Levine's bill would require outdoor elephant yards to include at least five acres for up to three pachyderms. The enclosures would have to provide an additional half acre for each elephant housed in the exhibit by 2009. The Wild Animal Park and zoo are operated by the Zoological Society of San Diego and have three elephant enclosures between them. After Levine held a press conference this week to promote his bill, the Zoological Society released a statement saying the organization believes decisions about the size of elephant exhibits are best left to animal care experts. "Although basic animal welfare standards are useful and of great value, it is important to recognize that detailed restrictions regarding animal care and husbandry may serve to create situations where the care of individual animals (bearing unique medical, psychological or social needs) is compromised," the statement said.
Yellow-legged frog Rescue Project
March 5, 2006 www.nctimes.com By: QUINN EASTMAN
SAN PASQUAL VALLEY ----Wildlife specialists from the Conservation and
Research for Endangered Species facility, next to San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal
Park, recently received 7 mountain yellow-legged frogs from the Los Angeles Zoo.
Previously it was feared that the species had been wiped out in the devastating
2003 Southern California wildfires. But biologists
from the U.S. Geological Survey rescued the seven as adolescents from a temporary pool near City Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest. "It's good that they did, because of all the ash and sediment that came down with the rains that winter," said Jeff Lemm, the recovery project's coordinator. Mountain yellow-legged frogs live in the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountains. They lived around Palomar Mountain up until the 1970s, but haven't been seen in recent years. A separate, but related population of frog lives in the Sierra Nevada. Before the 2003 fires, federal wildlife authorities estimated that only about 200 adults were living in Southern California, and declared them endangered in 2002. A year ago, the yellow-legged frogs were thought extinct in the City Creek area, but biologists discovered a few more around in fall 2005.
March 5, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Jeanette Steele
The San Diego Zoo is one of four US Zoos interested in renegotiating their $1 million per year panda rental contracts with China. "There have been serious discussions by representatives of the four zoos to ask if there are ways that the price of keeping pandas can be negotiated downward," said Don Lindburg, head of San Diego's Giant Panda Conservation Division. Directors of the institutions, traveled to China last year to talk with China Wildlife Conservation Association officials. Zoos must not only pay the base fee of $1 million but they pay extra when a cub is born. When expenses for research and care are factored in the price becomes prohibitive. San Diego estimates it has spent $30 million on pandas since 1996. "We've come to realize that the current arrangement may not be financially viable over the long term," Lindburg said. Zoos in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., say they will close their panda exhibits if a more affordable deal can't be reached. Officials at the San Diego Zoo have not yet mentioned closure. As a new rate, the four U.S. zoo directors tentatively have proposed half the current price, or $500,000 a year, said David Towne, chairman of the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation. The foundation is a U.S.-based nonprofit working with the zoos on the negotiations.
Chicago Considers Elephant Ban
March 6, 2006 newstandardnews.net by Kari Lydersen
The Chicago City Council is considering an ordinance that would essentially ban elephants from Chicago zoos and circuses. The ordinance would mandate zoos provide each elephant with at least five outdoor acres and five indoor acres. Since it is doubtful any zoo within the city could meet those requirements, it would essentially ban elephants in Chicago's zoos. At the City Council hearing, AZA President Beth Stevens defended the current health-and-safety protections for zoo elephants and characterized the proposed ordinance as a political maneuver by animal-rights groups. "This ordinance is not about elephants in Chicago," she said. "It is an attempt to make Chicago a national example of getting ... elephants out of zoos, and tomorrow getting other species - giraffes, lions, gorillas - out of zoos. The proposed ordinance would also mandate that traveling exhibitions like circuses provide 1,800 square feet of outdoor space for a single elephant, equal room indoors per animal, and 900 additional square feet in and out for each additional elephant. The elephants' keepers would also be barred from using pain-inducing training instruments, including bull-hooks, electric prods and baseball bats. Since such implements are regularly used in most circuses, the ordinance would bar mainstream circuses, including those run by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, from entering the city.
New Plans for Front Royal
March 6, 2006 www.washingtonpost.com By Karlyn Barker
WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the National Zoo, John Barry, has exciting plans for Front Royal, Va. He wants to create safari-like tours in open vehicles for the public on about 200 acres of the property, and hopes this "gold standard" park will outshine San Diego's renowned Wild Animal Park. Presently, the 3,200 Front Royal has 30-40 animals and is only open to the public, one day each year. Barry is hoping to persuade Congress and private donors to help pay for the project. His vision also includes modernizing the zoo's exhibits and boosting its scientific research and education programs. In September the zoo's Asia Trail exhibit will open, featuring more space for the popular giant pandas and cub Tai Shan. Berry then hopes to break ground on a $60 million elephant facility, a three-year project to replace the 1930s-era Elephant House that would have six to eight different outdoor habitat areas. Berry, 47, says his 10-year vision for the zoo, will require major renovations and rebuilding the aging infrastructure "from top to bottom."
N.C. Zoo wants $6 million from State
March 6, 2006 www.charlotte.com
ASHEBORO, N.C. - Although it is a state zoo, the state of North Carolina hasn't given the North Carolina Zoo money for capital projects in 14 years, when cash was allocated for the zoo's North America region. The zoo has relied since then on private money and state repair money to add buildings. The zoo is using at least $6 million in private donations to help pay for an $8 million expansion of the elephant and rhino herds and exhibits scheduled to open next year. The proposed $2.5 million children's center will be an interactive exhibit with a large treehouse as its centerpiece and intended for children ages 2-12. Zoo officials have asked the General Assembly to pay nearly $6 million for improvements, including a children's center, an amphitheater renovation and new barns.
Virtual Zoo Visits
March 6, 2006 www.fortwayne.com By Sheena Dooley
East Allen County Schools administrators want to expand videoconferencing in the district's schools to allow more students to take part in virtual field trips and classes offered at other EACS schools. They are hoping to integrate the interactive system with the curriculum. Now, each of EACS' five high schools has two videoconferencing systems, while New Haven and Prince Chapman middle schools expect to receive one apiece soon. The ability for students to stay in their school and take classes at other schools in the district is one of the main ways EACS uses videoconferencing. Without it, many elective classes wouldn't be offered because at least 15 students must participate, Melin said. The technology allows students to take virtual field trips to places such as the San Diego Zoo and ask questions of people at the zoo as they are guided through. Also, it has allowed more students to take college classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne at their school. Each unit costs about $12,000, Melin said. Initially, the district will most likely buy several mobile systems for 11 elementary schools to share.
Bonobos Disappearing in Congo
March 06, 2006 www.enn.com By Anjan Sundaram
MBIHE-MOKELE, Congo - Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are hunted by Congolese as bushmeat. According to Ino Guabini, a WWF primatologist, as few as 5,000 may be all that remain in the Congo. In 1984 their numbers were estimated to be 100,000. Living in treetop nests, female bonobos give birth to a single infant only once every five years, another factor that contributes to their vulnerability. Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe." But for poor villagers, bonobos can be lucrative business, with much of the meat heading for expensive, clandestine meals at restaurants in the cities. One bonobo can earn $200 for Richard Ipaka, a 50-year-old part-time poacher who lives in the provincial capital, Mbandaka. "That's enough money for two months," he said. Like many Congolese, he said he did not know bonobos are found in the wild only in his country. And like many others, he was skeptical that the ape is endangered.
Inbreeding Avoidance in Capuchins
March 6, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A 14 year behavioral and genetic study of a population of wild capuchin monkeys has shown that fathers almost never mate with their daughters, even though alpha males sire the majority of offspring produced by females unrelated to them. The findings suggest that psychological or other sophisticated behavioral barriers have evolved in this primate species to prevent inbreeding within individual populations. It has long been known that in group-living mammals, almost all members of at least one sex leave their birth group at adolescence, hindering inbreeding by separating opposite-sexed adult kin. In species in which the same male breeds in a group for a sufficiently long period that he risks mating with his daughters, females are typically the dispersing sex. Capuchins are highly unusual in that long male-breeding tenures co-exist with lifelong female residence in the same group. The findings are reported in the March 7th issue of Current Biology.
Protecting "Tomorrow's" Endangered Species
March 6, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
An article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, identifies areas that are susceptible to future species loss. Species in these 'hotspots' inhabit regions or habitats still comparatively unmodified by human activity. But the research shows that over the next few decades, many of these species could leapfrog those now considered high. The comprehensive Red List, prepared by the IUCN classifies species according to categories of threat running from 'extinct' to 'least concern'. Among the species with the highest latent extinction risk according to the new study are the North American reindeer, the musk ox, the Seychelles flying fox, and the brown lemur. Dr Marcel Cardillo, from the Division of Biology at Imperial College London is lead author of the research. The research reveals the top twenty hotspots for latent extinction risk in mammals, which include New Guinea, with the greatest latent risk; the Indian Ocean islands; Borneo; and Northern Canada and Alaska (For full list see Notes to Editors). The hotspots combine relatively low human impact with a mammal fauna made up of species which are inherently sensitive to disturbance. The research takes into account the projected human population growth in these areas up to 2015.
Antarctic Ice is Significantly Shrinking
March 06, 2006 www.enn.com
WASHINGTON - Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), scientists concluded that Antarctica's ice sheet decreased by about 152 cubic kilometers annually from April 2002 to August 2005. The estimated loss was enough to raise global sea level about 1.2 millimeters (0.04724 inch) during the study period or about 13 percent of the overall observed sea level rise for the same period. "Antarctica is Earth's largest reservoir of fresh water," researcher Isabella Velicogna said.
Minimum Viable Population Study
March 6, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Once a population has been reduced below a certain level, its recovery is in jeopardy. This size is commonly referred to as a 'minimum viable population', or MVP. Researchers Brook, Traill and Bradshaw of Charles Darwin University in Australia analyzed the long-term monitoring data of 1198 species and found a wide range of MVPs which are strongly linked to local environmental variability (e.g. habitat loss and over-exploitation) far more than any other factor such as body size, ecological specialization, dispersal ability, fertility, etc. Their study was recently published in Ecology Letters.
Latent Extinction Hotspots Identified
March 7, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Animals with a relatively small geographic range and those that have a large body mass and reproduce slowly are in danger of extinction. Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the area with the most potentially endangered species, 284, is Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia. Next, with 224 species, is Borneo, followed by New Guinea, 205 species, western Java, 131 species and Sulawesi, 130 species. Other areas of high threat are Maluku, Indonesia, 99 species; Northern Canada and Alaska, 96 species; Melanesian Islands, 96 species; Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, 86 species; East Indian highlands, 70 species; Also Eastern Canadian forests, 57 species; Tasmania and Bass Strait, 49 species; Siberian tundra, 35 species; Patagonian Coast of South America, 26 species; Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 20 species; Plus the Lesser Antilles, 16 species; Indian Ocean islands, 10 species; Greenland, 9 species; Bahamas, 8 species and Southern Polynesia, 3 species.
Yellowstone Bison Numbers Down
March 07, 2006 www.enn.com By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. - The number of bison in Yellowstone National Park has declined sharply since late last summer, when the population hit a documented high of 4,900. A park spokesman attributed the drop to the hundreds of bison captured and sent to slaughter and to normal winter deaths. The new population estimate is 3,500. In 2003, the late-winter bison estimate was 3,100 animals, he said. By late summer in 2004, the population had grown to more than 4,200. The new population estimate, released Friday and based on an aerial survey, is still above the target population of 3,000 contained in a state-federal plan for managing bison that leave the park and enter Montana. Josh Osher of the activist group Buffalo Field Campaign, dismisses the target as politically based. During the first two months of the year, nearly 940 bison were captured near the park's northern boundary and most of those animals were sent to slaughter without first being tested for brucellosis, the disease central to the management plan. Montana ranchers fear that wandering bison could spread brucellosis to cattle, jeopardizing the state's prized brucellosis-free status. Animal rights advocates counter that while brucellosis is found in the bison herd, the risk to domestic cattle has never been proven.
Saving the Laysan Albatross
March 07, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
HONOLULU - Ten Laysan albatross or "gooney bird" chicks were flown into Kauai Friday. They will be held in quarantine for about three days, according to USFWS. On Kauai, the Laysan albatross chicks will be raised by Japanese researchers in a section of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closed to the public. Japanese researchers hope that through learning how to nurture the one-month-old chicks of the relatively numerous Laysan albatross they will better understand how to bring Japan's short-tailed albatross, or golden gooney, back from the edge of extinction. "This unique pilot project allow us to share our previous knowledge and experience with our Japanese counterparts across the Pacific while also expanding that knowledge and experience through cooperative efforts to recover this endangered seabird," said Barry Stieglitz, project leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Leatherback turtle Conservation
March 7, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A major conservation effort, led by Dr Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter, has just got underway to help protect endangered Leatherback turtles which nest in Gabon, West Africa, an important region to the animals survival. Dr. Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter, is spearheading an effort to save the turtle as pacific populations decline. The turtles will be tagged and tracked by satellite to determine their migratory routes and geotraphical range. Once the information is collected strategies for protection can be employed. The tracking data is publicly available online at www.seaturtle.org The site is garnering more than 100,000 hits from over 150 countries each month.
Weather Kills Costa Rican Animals
March 7, 2006 www.nytimes.com By HILLARY ROSNER
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica - Corcovado National Park is a relatively remote 212-square-mile tropical rain forest preserve that stretches along the Pacific coast and inland. In mid-November, park officials closed Corcovado to visitors after tourists, despite warnings not to handle wildlife, began bringing sick animals to ranger stations in the hope of saving them. Reported sightings of other dead animals included deer, toucans, macaws and sloths. Tissue samples from Corcovado spider monkeys - Costa Rica's most endangered species of monkey, were sent to a laboratory at the University of Texas for analysis but showed no evidence of a virus or other pathogen. Now researchers think the affected animals starved to death because of a lack of available food sources and an inability to forage for food during several months of extreme rain and cold. September, October and November brought excessive rainfall, nearly twice the monthly averages, and unusually low temperatures to many parts of Costa Rica, especially the Osa Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific in the south. While it is impossible to know if the weather in late 2005 is related to climate change, the Costa Rican team studying Corcovado worries that if the climate changes and produces more extreme weather events like this, animal populations may not bounce back easily, said Gustavo Gutiérrez-Espeleta, a wildlife population geneticist at the University of Costa Rica.
Report on ESA Spending Released
March 7, 2006 www.caprep.com
WASHINGTON (01/27/06) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a report to Congress on Federal and State government spending associated with implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in fiscal year 2004. The report provides a species-by-species account of expenditures made for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. Total expenditures reported for 2004 were $1.4 billion, of which $793 million was reported as expenditures for specific individual species and $60 million was reported for land acquisition. The Endangered Species Expenditures Report for fiscal year 2004 is available online at www.fws.gov/endangered/pubs/expenditurereports.html
New Crustacean Species
March 7, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PARIS (AP) -- A team of American-led divers has discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday. Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it. The divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration. The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Gorilla Born
March 7, 2006 www.koaa.com By Kelly Brown
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is celebrating its first gorilla baby birth in ten years. His mother, Kwisha, has not shown any nurturing tendencies so the animal keepers is attempting to show her and the other gorillas how to care for the baby. Keisha vocalizes to the baby, smells him, and likes him, but she hasn't figured out that she's supposed to pick him and carry him. Seventeen people, staff and volunteers are involved in the 24 hours a day care schedule. At the same time they are attempting to reintroduce him to his mother and the other gorillas. When he is stronger, they will attempt to give him to Kwisha, or possibly a surrogate parent. Whoever seems to be the most interested.
AZA's "Two Million for $2 Million Drive
March 7, 2006 www.usnewswire.com By Jane Ballentine, AZA
WASHINGTON / -- Nationally known wildlife conservationist Jack Hanna attended a Capitol Hill reception hosted by Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and sponsored by Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus Co-Chairs, Julia Carson (D-IN) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL). Hanna announced the launch of the AZA's "Two Million for $2 Million" nationwide petition drive. This drive seeks more than two million public signatures in favor of increasing the amount of federal dollars allocated to the Multinational Species Conservation Funds. The Multinational Species Conservation Funds have a 14-year track record of effectively helping protect endangered wildlife, with five separate funds dedicated to in-country conservation of African elephants, Asian elephants, rhinos and tigers, great apes, and marine turtles. Administered by the USFWS, the five Multinational Species Conservation Funds are authorized to receive $5 million apiece annually, yet Congress has never appropriated more than $1.4 million per year per program. The purpose of AZA's petition drive is to urge Congress to appropriate at least $2 million. The petition drive will continue throughout the summer.
Minnesota Zoo's dolphin dies
March 8, 2006 www.twincities.com BY NHIA TONGCHAI LEE
On Monday night the Minnesota Zoo's 35-year-old female dolphin, Rio, died unexpectedly. Jim Rasmussen, senior veterinarian said a necropsy done at the University of Minnesota failed to determine the cause of death. Rio had lived at the zoo for 26 years and was considered extremely healthy. She suddenly lost her appetite on Monday afternoon. By 9:00 pm she was swimming erratically, bumping into things and was moved to a back pool to prevent injury. She then began experiencing respiratory problems and a half-hour later, stopped breathing and died in her trainer's arms.
SA cheetahs sent to Indonesian zoo
March 08, 2006, www.sabcnews.com
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa has sent two cheetahs to the Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia aboard a Cathay Pacific flight bound for Indonesia via Hong Kong. The animals should reach their destination around noon tomorrow. The cheetahs were part of an exchange agreement for a pair of Komodo dragrons from the Indonesian zoo. The male cheetah is five-years-old and the female is four. Both animals were bred at the Hoedspruit Research and Breeding Centre for Endangered Species. Dr. Anza Kharibe, a veterinarian at the National Zoo is traveling with the animals and will assist the Indonesian zoo staff with their acclimatization and husbandry.
Scientists Support ESA
March 8, 2006 www.signonsandiego.com By Erica Werner
WASHINGTON - 5,738 scientists including six National Medal of Science recipients are urging members of the Senate to preserve the Endangered Species Act. Their letter was organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and maintained that "For species conservation to continue, it is imperative both that the scientific principles embodied in the act are maintained, and that the act is strengthened, fully implemented, and adequately funded." The House passed an Endangered Species Act revision last year written by Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif requiring the government to compensate property owners if steps needed to protect species interfered with development plans. It also prevented the government from designating "critical Habitat" if development was limited. Many scientists and environmentalists viewed the House legislation as extreme. The chairman of the Senate environment committee, Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, is crafting an endangered species bill with the help of Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, and leaders of the wildlife subcommittee, Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chafee and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Sifaka Born at Sacramento Zoo
March 8, 2006 cbs13.com
A male Coquerel's sifaka was born at the Sacramento Zoo on February 14th. Sacramento is one of only five North American zoos holding this particular lemur species. The 15-year-old parents gave birth to another baby last year. The family resides in the Zoo's "Lemurs of the Lost World" exhibit. Sifaka's usually have one baby at a time and they are weaned after about 4-to-5 months.
Toledo Zoo Salamander & Tuatara Study
March 8, 2006 news.research.ohiou.edu by CHRISTINA DIERKES
ATHENS, Ohio - Salamanders and tuatara were the first vertebrates to walk and run on land, according to a recent study by Ohio University researchers, Stephen Reilly and Eric McElroy published in the March 8 issure of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences. The study was done at the Toledo Zoo with Andrew Odum, curator of herpetology and Valerie Hornyak, head herpetology keeper, who were co-authors of the study. The research determined that they use both forms of locomotion, which are energy-saving mechanisms generally believed to be important only in fast-running animals such as mammals and birds.
3 New Lemur Species
March 8, 2006 www-ulp.u-strasbg.fr
An international team of Malagasy and European researchers, has discovered three new species of lemurs. Through chromosomal and molecular biology studies, these researchers have determined the complete DNA sequence of a mitochondrial protein (cytochrome b), from 68 specimens from 21 different geographical locations. These results were compared to the preliminary chromosomal studies conducted on 99 known specimens, establishing a phylogenetic comparison between the species analyzed in the current tests and those previously known, enabling the classification of the new lemurs. Based on mitochondrial DNA characteristics, the three new species are: Lepilemur randrianasoli, L. aeeclis and L. sahamalazensis. They were discovered in the West and North West of Madagascar, bringing the number of species of lemur up to 11
Poison frog mimicry study
March 8, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
AUSTIN, Texas--Studying three neotropical poison dart frog species, biologists at the University of Texas at Austin uncovered a new way that the frog species can evolve to look similar, that hinges on the way predators learn to avoid the toxic amphibians. The study was published in the Mar. 8 issue of Nature. Researchers, Catherine Darst and Molly Cummings show that a harmless, colorful frog living in the Amazon rainforest gets protected from predators not by mimicking its most poisonous neighbor, but by looking like a frog who's poison is less toxic. In a series of predator learning experiments, the researchers found that the frogs' predators--in this case birds--learned to avoid anything remotely resembling the most toxic species.
Human-chimp differences due to gene regulation
March 8, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
The 9 March 2006 issue of the journal Nature provides new evidence that the vast differences between humans and chimpanzees are due more to changes in gene regulation than differences in individual genes. Researchers from Yale, the University of Chicago, and the Hall Institute in Parkville, Victoria, Australia, support the 30-year-old theory, proposed in a classic paper from Mary-Claire King and Allan Wilson of Berkeley in 1975, documenting the 99-percent similarity of genes and suggested that altered gene regulation, rather than changes in coding, might explain how so few genetic changes could produce the wide anatomic and behavioral differences between the two. "When we looked at gene expression, we found fairly small changes in 65 million years of the macaque, orangutan, and chimpanzee evolution," said author Yoav Gilad, from the University of Chicago, "followed by rapid change, along the five million years of the human lineage, that was concentrated on these specific groups of genes. This rapid evolution in transcription factors occurred only in humans." Kevin White of Yale, the senior author said "For 30 years scientists have suspected that gene regulation has played a central role in human evolution.In addition to lending support to the idea that changes in gene regulation are a key part of our evolutionary history, these new results help to define exactly which regulatory factors may be important, at least in certain tissues. This helps open the door to a functional dissection of the role of gene regulation during the evolution of modern humans."
Carnivore Interspecific Killing Study
March 8, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A new study by Emiliano Donadio and Steven W. Buskirk of the University of Wyoming), explores interspecific killing - carnivores killing other carnivores appears in the coming issue of American Naturalist. "Although food exploitation is influential in predisposing carnivores to attack each other, relative body size of the opponents appears to be overwhelmingly important," according to the authors. The authors found that when the difference in body size was small, carnivores were less likely to attack, no matter how much the diet of the two species overlapped, because the risks of an attack were high. When the difference in body size was intermediate, then the larger species of carnivore was much more willing to attack and kill the smaller carnivore species.
Britain to Ban Some Wild Circus Animals
March 8, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LONDON (AP) -- New provisions to Britains Animal Welfare Bill would outlaw the use of yet-to-be named species ''whose welfare needs cannot be satisfactorily met'' in a traveling circus. Animals in permanent circus venues, zoo performances and in the ''audio visual'' industry would be exempt, Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said in a written statement to the House of Commons. Animal rights groups hailed the proposal as a positive step and urged lawmakers to quickly pass the bill so it could be implemented by the fall. ''This is wonderful news and the culmination of more than 10 years of hard work for us,'' said Jan Creamer, the chief executive of the animal welfare organization Animal Defenders International.
New Keiki Petting Zoo
March 9, 2006 starbulletin.com By Rosemarie Bernardo
HAWAII -- The Honolulu Zoo's new petting zoo called Keiki Zoo is officially open. The Honolulu Zoological Society contributed more than $1 million to the new $5.1 million Keiki Zoo. It is 1.6 acres, four times bigger than the old Children's Zoo, and is designed to educate visitors and allow them to interact with the animals. "We give the animals ( lambs, cows, a llama, a miniature horse and goats) the option to come up and be touched rather than forcing them," said Honolulu Zoo Assistant Director Tommy Higashino. The renovation started in February 2005 and should be complete by next month. Some of the major features at the zoo include a large, circular fish tank with a tunnel children can crawl through to view colorful koi from inside the tank. There is a duck and goose pond with a water wheel that visitors can activate, and a guinea pig exhibit has a tunnel children can crawl through. Higashino said they plan to add classrooms to the complex as well as a reptile exhibit. Another plan is to place an incubator at the chicken exhibit where visitors can watch chicks hatching from eggs.
Columbus Zoo Mega-Expansion
March 9, 2006 www.10tv.com by Kurt Ludlow
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium director emeritus Jack Hanna wants to build a hotel on zoo grounds within the next 10 years. Also planned is "The African Savannah" visitors will be able to watch giraffes, hippopotami and zebras roam free. The zoo has begun a $180 million, 10-year project that will expand the grounds from 90 acres today to nearly 600 acres by 2015, making it the largest zoo in North America. "Franklin County voters have really supported the zoo with a property tax levy. And that's really the basis that's helped all these changes take place," zoo director Gerald Borin explained. The Savannah is expected to open in 2009. The Arctic Frontier exhibit with polar bears is scheduled to open in 2008. The new Asia exhibit premieres this summer. Another potential for growth for the zoological park is the fact that this summer will be the last season Six Flags is contracted to operate neighboring Wyandot Lake. The zoo might then over the water park itself and use the proceeds to further fund the animal operations.
Baby Penguin Is Mini-Celebrity in Britain
March 9, 2005 www.washingtonpost.com By Kevin Sullivan
NEWCHURCH, England - Less than a month old, Amazon World Zoo Park's new baby penguin, has made its public debut and become a celebrity. Its sibling, named Toga, was taken from the Park which is located on the Isle of Wight a week before Christmas and never found. The return of the chick became a national crusade generating international attention, involved the police, the Royal Navy and generated nearly $50,000 in donations to offer as a reward. But the 9-pound South African jackass penguin was never found. An anonymous caller said he threw him into Portsmouth harbor, but since he was still too young to survive without his parents, Kath Bright, manager of Amazon World said, he never would have made it on his own. Everyone was thrilled when, on Valentine's Day, Toga's parents, Oscar and Kyala, produced another chick. Now security has been tightened with new motion sensors and a closed-circuit television surveillance system is in the works, Bright said.
Bird Flu Not in US Yet
March 9, 2006 www.nytimes.com By Reuters
WASHINGTON -- The H5N1 avian flu virus has not yet made its way to North America, although many experts believe it will, U.S. government researchers said on Thursday. Eight months worth of sampling migratory birds has turned up no evidence of the dangerous H5N1 strain, the team at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center said. The team has been sampling migratory waterfowl, considered to be the most likely carriers of influenza viruses from east Asia across to western North America, notably Alaska and Canada. They found several viruses but not H5N1. "Avian influenza viruses are common in North American waterfowl and shorebirds, and the finding of a variety of avian influenza viruses is not unexpected,'' said Dr. Leslie Dierauf, director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Chicago Debates Elephants
March 9, 2006 www.bloomberg.com
Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has experienced 3 elephant deaths in the past few years. An ordinance proposed by Chicago Alderman Mary Ann Smith and supported by animal rights activists would require at least 10 acres (4 hectares) of living space per elephant, with half indoors and climate-controlled be mandated - an impossibility for the 35 acre zoo and would have the effect of barring any elephants in the city. The Lincoln Park zoo, is the latest target of activists who say captivity in close quarters is lethal to elephants. Chicago zoo officials complain that the proposed restrictions are arbitrary; they say the elephants died of old age and bacterial infections. The outcome may influence the treatment of other elephants in captivity. "Chicago could have a national and international effect," says Jane Ballentine, spokeswoman for the Silver Spring, Maryland-based AZA, the accrediting group for U.S. zoos. The Lincoln Park Zoo has had no elephants since the death of its last pachyderm in May. New York's Bronx Zoo has three elephants and plans to phase out the exhibit when one dies, which may not come for decades. Los Angeles has three elephants, with one on display, and local elected officials are considering options ranging from expanding the exhibit to banning it. Chicago, with a population of about 2.9 million, is the nation's third-largest city, after New York and Los Angeles.
Rat-Squirrel Not Extinct
March 10, 2006 www.enn.com By Lauran Neergaard
WASHINGTON - A nocturnal species recently discovered living in central Laos is actually a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years, and known only from fossils. Nicknamed "the Laotian rock rat", its not a rat at all but a species called Diatomyidae, that looks more like a small squirrels or tree shrew. Paleontologist Mary Dawson of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History, along with colleagues in France and China, report the creature's new identity in Friday's edition of the journal Science. They made comparisons between the bones of today's specimens and fossils found in China and elsewhere in Asia. The Laotian forests, largely unknown to outsiders have a number of unique animals like the saola, a wild ox, the barking deer and unique bats.
Grey Wolf Rebounds in Northern Rockies
March 10, 2006 www.enn.com By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. - A recent report shows increased wolf population growth in Montana and Idaho, but an overall decline in Wyoming, where wolf numbers in Yellowstone National Park fell sharply -- mainly because so many pups died. Outside the park, the Wyoming population grew by about 33 percent between 2004 and 2005. Estimates for the end of 2005 put the Northern Rockies wolf population at 1,020, with 512 wolves in Idaho, 256 in Montana and 252 in Wyoming. Estimates also put the number of breeding pairs in the states at 71, far above the minimum 30 that help define the wolves as a recovered species. A breeding pair consists of an adult male and female with at least two pups until year's end. Federal wildlife officials have declared the wolves' recovery a success and made clear their intention to seek the removal of special protections for the wolves under the Endangered Species Act once all three states have management plans considered acceptable for ensuring the long-term viability of the animals.
Brookfield Wolf Exhibit Modified
March 10, 2006 www.chicagotribune.com By Gerry Doyle
CHICAGO -- Keepers at Brookfield Zoo don't know what snapped off part of a Mexican gray wolf's foreleg inside its exhibit, but they have modified the space and filled in holes along the enclosure's fence line. They looked closely at areas along the fence where dirt had been removed, exposing the underground "dig-proof" barrier, said Tom Meehan, the zoo's director of veterinary services, but there was no sign of the missing limb or what might have caused the injury, which was discovered March 1. The zoo plans to replace the above-ground fence as well. A U.S.D.A. nspector examined the site after the accident, and wolf experts are being consulted about the exhibit's construction. The wolf, who, as part of a repopulation program, underwent surgery to cleanly amputate most of its left front leg and is now recovering in a zoo hospital with two others from its group to keep it company.
Tuatara Research at Toledo Zoo
March 10, 2006 toledoblade.com By JENNI LAIDMAN
OHIO - In 2004, Ohio University researcher Stephen Reilly, began locomotion experiments on Tuatara at the Toledo Zoo. Assisted by Val Hornyak, and R. Andrew Odum, herpetology keepers, Reilly set up a track with a device that can measure movement in all directions. Tuataras were tested, along with some salamanders. It turned out that they use both rise and fall walking and spring-loaded running and seem to alternate between the two styles at random. Reilly was able to demonstrate that the first creatures that crawled out on the land could run. Later in evolution, this became a useful survival skill. Structurally, tuataras are similar to the first tetrapods on land, so they were important to study. The results of the project were published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Ms. Hornyak and Toledo reptile curator R. Andrew Odum are co-authors on the paper.
Gale Norton Resigns
March 10, 2006 www.nytimes.com
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton resigned Friday after five years in President Bush's Cabinet and at a time when her agency is part of a lobbying scandal over Indian gaming licenses. A former Colorado attorney general, Norton guided the Bush administration's initiative to open Western government lands to more oil and gas drilling. As one of the architects of Bush's energy policy, she eased regulations to speed approval of drilling permits, particularly in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming's Powder River Basin. She also was the administration's biggest advocate for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska's North Slope to oil drilling. The first woman ever to head the Interior Department, Norton was a protege of James Watt, the controversial interior secretary during President Ronald Reagan's first term in office. Watt was forced to resign after characterizing a coal commission in terms that were viewed by some as a slur.
Tibetan mastiff conservation
March 10, 2006 www.post-gazette.com By Blythe Yee, The Wall Street Journal
GUJI VILLAGE, YUNNAN PROVINCE, China -- For the past two years, Wong How Man has scoured the Tibetan plateau for mastiff puppies with bushy tails, big heads and very bad dispositions. Although one of the world's oldest breeds, true Tibetan mastiffs are under siege from smaller dogs. New roads and towns have brought mixed-breed canines to the plateau, and they're diluting the mastiff gene pool. Mr. Wong is the founder of the nonprofit China Exploration and Research Society. Last year, he led an expedition that found a new source of the Yangtze River. He's also documented the vanishing Ewenki nomadic hunting tribe, the only ethnic group in China to raise reindeer. About six years ago, he noticed that the dogs were getting smaller, and their barks higher-pitched -- indications that they were mixing with mutts and other breeds like German shepherds. He also had the worrying realization that they no longer pursued his car. They have also become more popular - the best dogs fall into the hands of commercial breeders and leave the country.
LA Zoo Unveils New Elephant Exhibit
March 10, 2006 cbs2.com
LOS ANGELES - The LA Zoo is planning a new 3.5-acre elephant exhibit that includes a forest, bathing waterholes and a "behind the scenes" view of elephant quarters. A viewing area is also planned from a variety of distances, from vistas overlooking the enclosure to a barrier-protected area that will provide up-close views. The $39 million projected cost will be funded from private donations, bonds approved under Propositions A and CC, the city's General Fund and the Municipal Improvement Corp. of Los Angeles. The new elephant oasis will replace a 2-acre, $19 million elephant exhibit that was previously proposed. The new proposal is already drawing criticism from animal rights critics seeking to close the elephant exhibit. "The Los Angeles Zoo is not on the cutting edge when it comes to the care of elephants in captivity and what they are planning is a woefully inadequate exhibit," said Catherine Doyle of In Defense of Animals. "I would prefer to see Los Angeles to do some real long-term planning to build a large preserve that will keep the elephants healthy. A three-acre exhibit is nothing but a Band-Aid."
Rosamond Gifford Zoo May Loan Elephants
March 10, 2006 www.newsday.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has applied for a federal permit to send two of its six Asian elephants to the African Lion Safari near Toronto in Canada. If approved by the USFWS, the zoo would send Targa, 22, and her daughter, Mali, 9, to African Lion Safari near Toronto. Both elephants would be on long-term loan in Canada and continue to participate in an international breeding program for Asian elephants. Administrators want to make the move this spring, clearing space for Romani, whose new baby is expected in late spring or early summer. The zoo had been planning to move some of its elephants since last summer, when both Targa and Romani were pregnant. Targa gave birth July 31 to a bull, Kedar. But he died Aug. 4, hours after he fell into a swimming pool. African Lion Safari has 11 elephants, the largest collection of Asian elephants at any zoological facility in North America. The wildlife park covers 750 acres and its 1,000 birds and animals are free to roam in natural reserves of 5 to 50 acres.
Internet Primate Aging Database
March 10 www.sciencemag.org Vol 311 p 1353 By Mitch Leslie
The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is hosting a free database on primate aging (iPAD) at ipad.primate.wisc.edu. It is open to academics and commercial researchers but potential users must apply for access. Measurements are provided by 11 U.S. labs for 16 types of primates on biomarkers such as blood glucose level, bone thickness, and white blood cell count. Searches can provide information on some 400,000 data points or simply statistical summaries.
Metazome - Animal Genome Analysis
March 10, 2006 www.sciencemag.org Vol 311, p1353 By Mitch Leslie
Metazome from the US Dept of Energy and UC Berkeley, allows the comparison of animal genomes to analyze genetic lineages at www.metazome.net . Currently the database contains genomes for 11 species that represent branch points in animal or metazoan, evolution. Links provide more information about the genes and their proteins.
Atlanta Volunteer Makes a Difference
March 10, 2006 atlanta.bizjournals.com by Anya Martin
Nine years ago, Atlanta resident, Danielle Deaton Rollins took her 6-month-old son on a private tour of the Bronx Zoo and was struck by his joy at seeing the animals. As soon as she returned home, she called Zoo Atlanta and volunteered and since has become one of the zoos biggest advocates, donors and heroes. She, her husband and her in-laws have donated more than $1.3 million to Zoo Atlanta through the Gary W. & Ruth M. Rollins Foundation. Their donations have made possible the Orkin Children's Zoo, which includes Outback Station, featuring the zoo's first kangaroos and kookaburras. "[Danielle] represents the new generation of philanthropy in our city," said Dennis Kelly, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. "She's young; she's educated; she's very active in the community; and she's passionate and innovative."
AZA Announces New Executive Director
March 10, 2006 aza.org
SILVER SPRING, MD, -- The American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Board of Directors has named Jim Maddy the new Executive Director. He will begin his new duties in early April. Maddy, 57, has an M.A. in Economics from West Virginia University and a long and distinguished career supporting the conservation of wildlife and wild places. He comes to AZA from the Resources Legacy Fund, Sacramento, Calif., a major funder of resource conservation activities in California. His leadership experience includes serving nine years as president of the National Park Foundation, Washington, DC, which generates private funding to protect national parks resources and enhance visitor experience. Prior to that he was president of the League of Conservation Voters, the federal election arm of the major national environmental advocacy organizations.
New Conservation Center at Fort Worth
March 11, 2006 www.dfw.com By ALEX BRANCH
FORT WORTH - The key to the Fort Worth Zoo's newest building was delivered by a penguin waddling toward the podium with a bright red ribbon around its neck. The $1 million Animal Outreach and Conservation Center is 10,000-square-feet and will house everything from common red-tailed hawks to Grand Cayman blue iguanas. Though it won't be open to the public, it will allow the zoo to expand its outreach program and provide a safe environment for 18 threatened and endangered species. Zoo director Michael Fouraker said some species could eventually be released into the wild. On the conservation side, Burmese star tortoises, Vietnamese pond turtles, mangrove terrapins and iguanas will live in a climate-controlled greenhouse. They'll have a spa, a bubbling pool with a beach where the turtles can nest. On the outreach side, the animals -- penguins, owls, hawks, pythons and an African serval -- will live in roomy quarters with space for new additions. A large outdoor exercise cage is almost complete. "Right now, some of [the animals] have to exercise indoors," said Kristen Silvers, outreach specialist. "They're going to love it."
Special Safari Shuttle to Fort Worth Zoo
March 11, 2006 www.dfw.com By GORDON DICKSON
Spring break is busy at the Fort Worth Zoo, with major traffic congestion and parking problems. This year, a Safari Shuttle, operated by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, will take visitors from downtown to the zoo. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority will operate the trolley today through Saturday, leaving every 30 minutes beginning at 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, and beginning at 9:40 a.m. Saturday. The last trolley leaves the zoo at 7 p.m. A round trip ticket is $2.50 for adults; $1 for kids 5 to 18. Children 4 and under and senior citizens over 65 are free. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, or the T, will operate a special Safari Shuttle from Monday through March 18. The shuttle is also free for those who buy a TRE day pass.
L.A. Zoo's Elephant Exhibit Budget
March 12, 2006 www.montereyherald.com AP
LOS ANGELES - Acting on a campaign promise to eliminate the city's $300 million budget deficit within 5 years, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put the zoo's $19 million, 2 acre "Elephants of Surin exhibit", on hold until a special study could be completed. The study recommended a 3 acre exhibit. Now the Zoo General Manager, John Lewis is proposing a $39 million, 3.5 acre exhibit for the Zoo's 3 elephants. The new exhibit that would be among the largest of any urban zoo in the nation, with a grassland, water holes, waterfalls and natural surfaces for walking and standing.Animal-welfare activists vowed to continue their campaign to have the animals sent to a sanctuary.
Minnesota Zoo Breeds Mexican Wolves
March 12, 2006 www.twincities.com BY MEGGEN LINDSAY
Minnesota Zoo keeper Jackie Fallon has spent much of her career working to save Mexican gray wolf. The species was wiped out in the United States by the middle of the 20th century, but in the late 1970s a trapper working for the government captured five wolves alive in Mexico. In 1994, the Minnesota Zoo became involved in the USFWS's recovery program and Fallon joined the two-nation effort to breed the captive wolves and return their descendants to the wild. One of the zoo's former wolves is now at a holding facility awaiting release into the Blue Mountain Range in Arizona. In the meantime, Fallon cares for four males. Unlike many other animals at the zoo, the wolves on exhibit are not trained or socialized in any way to improve their chances for survival in the wild. Minnesota has been a successful breeder of the wolves, them to other zoos at the direction of the USFWS, which maintains ownership. Since 1998, the federal government has released 90 Mexican gray wolves into the wild, but only about 35 are confirmed alive now, Fallon said. The captive population has ballooned to more than 300 wolves.
Camaroon is 4th African State With Bird Flu
March 12, 2006 today.reuters.com By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon on Sunday became the fourth country in Africa to report an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu after the virus was found on a duck farm in its northernmost province. Nigeria, Egypt and Niger have already reported cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain in poultry flocks. Cameroon Livestock Minister Sarki Aboubakary told Reuters the Pasteur Institute in Paris had identified H5N1 in samples taken from ducks which had died on a farm in the northern town of Maroua. "Yesterday, we received confirmation from Paris that one of the samples was positive, that a case of H5N1 was effectively detected in one of the ducks," he said. As the disease spreads in Africa, international experts are concerned that the world's poorest continent, already battling HIV/AIDS and malaria, is ill-equipped in terms of expertise and resources to combat this new health threat.
Elephant Protection Act Criticized
March 12, 2006 www.sacbee.com By Peter Hecht
The "Elephant Protection Act" introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, would require zoos to set aside at least 5 acres of usable habitat for every three elephants, plus an additional half-acre for each additional elephant. The measure, AB 3027, would also ban the use of steel-tipped bullhooks and chains to herd or restrain the animals. Levine held a recent news conference in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Zoo to announce the bill. Only one California zoo - the Oakland Zoo - would meet the standards of the legislation. It houses four elephants on 6 acres, including a 3.4-acre exhibit, and doesn't use bullhooks or chains. The bill is drawing protests from the Los Angles Zoo and the San Diego Zoo and its Wild Animal Park. The zoos say they have invested or are investing millions of dollars to upgrade their elephant facilities. The San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park has eight African elephants in a 3-acre exhibit and six Asian elephants in a 2.5-acre habitat. The San Diego Zoo houses one African elephant and three Asian elephants in a 1-acre exhibit. The Zoological Society of San Diego, which runs the two zoos, said the Elephant Protection Act would "compromise the capability of animal care professionals" to decide what is best for the elephants." "Zoos have a critical and increasing conservation role in helping manage sustainable populations of endangered species and should not be limited in their ability to play this role," the society's statement read. At the Los Angeles Zoo, home to three elephants, officials are seeking a $13.9 million expansion to create a Pachyderm Forest that would increase the zoo's elephant habitat from a just more than a half-acre to 3 acres. Though the acreage would fall short of the standards sought in Levine's bill, zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said the plan carefully considers the needs of the zoo's elephants, including one diagnosed with a chronic foot infection and an arthritic condition. "You have to look at the whole program - what you do with that space," Jacobs said.
Oregon's Behind the Scenes Encounters
March 13, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
Behind the Scenes Family Encounters provide children 8-13 (accompanied by an adult) with an up-close and personal view of zoo areas not normally accessible to the public, and learn more about the animals. "Having the chance to encounter a 600-pound grizzly within just a few feet is something you'll never forget." says Tony Vecchio. The Grizzly Family Encounter explains how the zoo's environmental enrichment program helps their grizzly, named Bug, stay physically and mentally active. "Hide-and-seek" is the key. Guests get to help hide treats around the exhibit, and then watch as the grizzly hunts for his morning snacks. Behind the Scenes Family Encounters are enriching for zoo guests as well, creating an appreciation for animals through one-of-a-kind experiences. Member prices for family encounters are $50 for two people and $25 for each additional person. Nonmember prices are $60 for two people and $30 for each additional person. To sign up for the Grizzly Family Encounter, or for more information, call 503-220-2781.
Tokyo Zoo Exhibits Anteater
March 13, 2006 www.nbc4.tv
TOKYO -- Tokyo zookeepers showed off their first baby anteater Monday. Born last November, its parents, Tae and Ally are both from Paraguay. The species of anteater is officially called southern tamandua. The species is considered vulnerable and very few are born in captivity. Zookeepers claim these anteaters prefer citrus fruit and avacado rather than ants.
Living Desert Building Project
March 13, 2006 www.thedesertsun.com
The Living Desert breaks ground today on a $9 million administration building that will, for the first time in the zoological park's more than 20 years, put all senior staff under one roof. The new Stephen B. Chase Administration Center includes 20,000 square feet of office and meeting space, catering facilities and exhibition galleries. Architects on the project are Holden and Johnson of Palm Springs.
Facultative Parthenogenesis at Toledo Zoo
March 13, 2006 toledoblade.com By JENNI LAIDMAN
Although virgin births are rare, R. Andrew Odum, herpetology curator at the Toledo Zoo, Believes it may have occurred with a female jewel-green Chinese water dragon who has been at the Toledo Zoo for the past year without a male. Although the embryos in the 2 eggs died earlier this month, if they had survived the entire incubation period there is a good chance they would have been the second virgin birth reported in lizards. Odum's search of the scientific literature revealed one other report of a captive lizard that reproduced without the help of a male. David Chiszar, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is one of the co-authors of a 1997 paper in the journal, Herpetological Natural History, that documents a surprising series of virgin births in four different snake species. Mr. Odum was another of the co-authors, reporting a virgin birth in an Aruba Island rattlesnake at the Toledo Zoo. The scientific term for such asexual reproduction of "facultative parthenogenesis", birth without the help of a male in a species that usually reproduces sexually. There are a few reptiles and amphibians that only reproduce asexually. In fact, one of them, a form of blue-spotted salamander, lives in northwest Ohio. This species is all female. She produces eggs with double the genetic material of a normal egg, meaning she need not wait for sperm to provide her offspring with a full complement of genes.
South Africa Aids Abidjan Zoo
March 14, 2006 www.news24.com By Christophe Koffi
Abidjan's zoo is a tragic victim of political turmoil in west Africa. Pretoria Zoo, with financial support from South Africa hopes to rescue what was formerly a jewel. Two South African veterinary surgeons visited the zoo in August 2004, as part of a mission coordinated by the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB) to help look after the animals, many of which were already in distress. The two specialists attended to lions, as well as chimpanzees, hoping to halt a trend that had seen the number of animals reduced from 320 in 2002 to 231 in 2005. The much awaited South African support should allow installation in the zoo of a 20-hectare special zone to accommodate animals like a 100-year-old tortoise that weighs more than 100kg. The South African experts will also work to increase the number of animals at the zoo, and to enhance reproduction among some of the zoo's star attractions - elephants Taya, Azagny and Canne - as well as rare pygmy hippopotamuses.
Will Zoo's Spot Avian Flu First?
March 14, 2006 abcnews.go.com/Technology By JONATHAN SILVERSTEIN
With a controlled population of birds and animals under constant watch by experts, zoos are great detectors for illnesses like avian flu. "We are very good canaries in the proverbial coal mine," said Dr. Dominic Travis, director of the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. "But we're better than that because we can also help solve the problem." Back in 1999, Dr. Tracey McNamara, a veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo, was investigating the mysterious death of a number of wild crows found on zoo grounds. After some testing, investigation and analysis, McNamara concluded it was the rare and deadly West Nile virus that had killed the birds. " [the Bronx Zoo] were the first ones to connect the bird cases and human cases," said Dr. Nina Marano, associate director for Veterinary Public Health at the CDC. "This wasn't part of their protected species, but because they represent a great place for urban wildlife to reside thanks to their being very attractive places that have ponds and trees, wildlife flock there." City zoos have often played host to local bird and animal populations. Since the zoo's staff monitors and tests its population, it becomes an ideal sentinel on the lookout for new illnesses. In 2003, an outbreak of "exotic Newcastle disease" in Southern California provided the San Diego Zoo with a valuable lesson on how to deal with a dangerous disease whose targets are not dissimilar from avian flu. Exotic Newcastle disease is a viral infection that can quickly kill entire flocks of unvaccinated poultry. "The disease is highly contagious among birds, and causes a high mortality in poultry particularly, but in all bird species," said Dr. Don Janssen, a San Diego Zoo veterinarian. "We got a lot of experience because of that disease in protecting our collection from diseases that are highly contagious in birds." Facing a disease that threatened the zoo's irreplaceable avian collection, officials acted quickly to implement bio-security procedures they hoped would help. They closed their walk-through aviaries so that people couldn't bring the virus into the facility and required keepers to wear uniforms that were laundered on-site, so they never left the facility. Employees with sick pets at home were told to stay away, just in case. "At all of our service entrances, we would query drivers on where they were coming from, make sure it wasn't a poultry operation of an egg farm or something like that and then if they did have business on our property, we would still spray the undercarriage of the vehicle - their tires and things - with a disinfectant," Janssen said. "It's that contagious." Though exotic Newcastle never infected their collection, the experience was good preparation for avian flu - though that disease will pose some unique challenges of its own.
Polar Bear Triplets
March 14, 2006 news.nationalgeographic.com By Victoria Gilman
Three polar bear cubs, believed to be the first set of triplets born in captivity, are now on exhibit at the Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands city of Rhenen. In the wild, polar bears frequently give birth to more than one cub at a time, although triplets are far less common than twins, and frequently stronger siblings often force the runt of a litter to die of starvation within its first year. Even in zoos, where food and care are plentiful, nearly half of the polar cubs born in captivity die.
Blank Park Zoo Plans Expansion
March 14, 2006 desmoinesregister.com By JOSE DE JESUS
IOWA -- The 40-year-old Blank Park Zoo is in need of infrastructure repair, and it's too small for Des Moines' population of 200,000, let alone the 400,000-resident metro area. "We are the only zoo in the state, and for the size of Des Moines we are relatively small in acres," said Terry Rich, head of the Blank Park Zoo Foundation who advocates expanding the zoo to the east into Fort Des Moines Park for $50 rather than to the north where most of the land is vacant for a cost of $100 million. Expansion to the adjacent park, which is owned by Polk County, would more than double the 22-acre zoo. It also would be the most cost-effective option because the park already features trees, infrastructure, and sewer and water. However, the Somerset Neighborhood Association, a group of residents who live near the zoo, is against the plan. Mel Pins, the group's president, said that while the group would like the zoo to expand, increase its attractions and encourage economic growth in the area, it is hesitant to endorse a plan that would come at the expense of sacrificing the publicly accessible park.
Tulsa Elephants Eating Up Budget
March 14, 2006 www.kten.com
TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa Zoo is home to one bull elephant and two females. Zoo records show that the three Asian elephants eat more than 34-thousand dollars worth of food each year -- $20,000 worth of produce, vitamins and grain and about 250 pounds of elephant chow each week, along with treats and food used to train them. They also eat about six bales of hay each day. When the cost of food is added to the cost of their habitat utilites and care, the zoo spends a total of $260,000 on these tree animals.
Memphis Zoo's Northwest Passage
March 14, 2006 www.commercialappeal.com By Amos Maki
Engineers at Ellers, Oakley, Chester & Rike Inc. are responsible for the aesthetics and mechanics of a new $23 million, 3-acre Northwest Passage exhibit at the Memphis Zoo. An underwater viewing area, allows visitors to watch three polar bears wrestle and splash. Because the bear's pool is chilled and Memphis air is hot and humind, an air-conditioning system was installed to prevent condensation on the viewing window. The glass viewing panels are more than 2 inches thick and serve as a barrier to 100,000 gallons of water in the polar bear exhibit, which exerts 60 tons of force against the glass. The bears are provided with a specially designed rock for lounging. Warm or cold water circulates through it depending on the temperature outside. And, of course, the rock is strategically positioned so guests will have a good view of the animal. 500,000 gallons of fresh and salt water in the Northwest Passage is clean and clear by relying on a complicated automated system that constantly monitors water flow and cleanliness. Ozone gas is pumped into the system to clean the water.
Florida Panther Bounces Back
March 14, 2006 www.nytimes.com By ABBY GOODNOUGH
OCHOPEE, Fla. - There are fewer than 100 Florida panthers, the only subspecies of puma east of the Mississippi. A USFWS report issued in January announced that the Florida panther population must grow to survive -- they advocate three separate populations of at least 240 each - but the panther needs more space. The report, revisited the possibility of moving some of the cats to Central Florida and eventually to the other states they previously inhabited, like Georgia and Arkansas. But with no immediate plan, South Florida must figure out what to do when the panthers invade human turf? The problem is complicated by the fact that some researchers say Florida panthers no longer qualify as a separate subspecies, partly because many are descendants of a crossbreeding program with imported Texas pumas in the 1990's. If their classification were to change, they could lose their federal protection.
Sweden Confirms H5N1 Bird Flu
March 15, 2006 today.reuters.com
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish authorities said on Wednesday that tests had confirmed that two wild ducks found on its east coast carried the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Preliminary tests late last month showed that two wild ducks found near the Baltic port city of Oskarshamn carried the aggressive H5 virus, but more tests were needed to ascertain that they were cases of the deadly H5N1 strain. "The laboratory in Weybridge has now confirmed that it is an H5N1 virus, just as we thought," the National Veterinary Institute said in a statement. Since the first two cases were found, around a dozen wild birds found along Sweden's southeast coast and on the Baltic island of Gotland have been identified as carrying the H5 virus. No cases have been reported in domestic fowl.
Zoo Book by Jeffrey Bonner
March 15, 2006 www.stltoday.com
ST LOUIS -- The 90 acre St Louis Zoo is "a little bit like an iceberg," according to president Jeffrey Bonner . What the 3 million visitors see each year "What's really interesting is happening where you can't see it. It's happening in places around the globe." Bonner presents the whole iceberg in his new book "Sailing with Noah; Stories from the World of Zoos" (University of Missouri Press; 301 pages; $39.95 cloth, $19.95 paperback). Bonner says. "Zoos have a very important role in facilitating that. We're vital. We're critical. We can make an enormous difference. But wild things are saved in wild places." The book is a travelogue as well as a collection of animal stories. He details the conservation efforts of American zoos around the world with firsthand accounts of his visits to those places, connecting the dots among animal and people and land. Bonner, 52, earned a Ph.D. in anthropology at Columbia University and taught at the University of Michigan. Though he left the world of academia to become director of exhibits at the St. Louis Science Center, and then director of the Indianapolis Zoo, Bonner is still a teacher - but one with a sense of humor who can relate scientific abstracts to everyday life.
Zoo Atlanta's "Think Green Day"
March 15, 2006 www.ajc.com By STACY SHELTON
Zoo Atlanta is hosting its first "Think Green Day" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The day includes electronics waste from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those who want to safely dispose of old computers, printers, microwave ovens, VCRs, stereos and cellphones. Disposal is free with the exception of televisions, which will cost $10 apiece. For a complete list of acceptable items, go to zooatlanta.org. Members of the Zoo Atlanta Green Team will lead educational activities for children, including building bird feeders. The Captain Planet Foundation, Clean Air Campaign, EarthCraft House, the Georgia Recycling Coalition and other groups will provide educational materials and exhibit green technologies. Cellphone recycling is also available year-round at the zoo's Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center. Money raised by recycling the cellphones with Eco-Cell is sent to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International for gorilla research and conservation efforts. Tickets to the zoo cost $17 for adults, $13 for senior citizens and $12 for children. On Saturday, teachers get in free, along with one guest, as part of Education Appreciation Day.
Moorpark College Spring Fundraiser
March 15, 2006 www.venturacountystar.com
America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College is planning a Spring Spectacular for the 3 coming weekends. Four shows will be presented from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m on Saturday and Sunday. The event also features zoo tours, "Creature Feature," where visitors can learn more about the more spine-tingling animals, and the "Eye-to-Eye" show, where visitors can come in contact with some of the zoo's residents. Admission to Spring Spectacular is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and children under 12. Children under 2 are admitted free. The performances are recorded, and students are able to use the tapes for auditions and job applications at animal parks and other venues involving trainers. Holly Tumas, zoo operations assistant, hopes to raise about $30,000 at the event. "It helps us raise our operating costs to feed our animals and to do upgrades around the zoo," Tumas said. "We get a small portion of operating costs through the college, but this big event and our regular weekend hours raise the bulk of the amount we need." This is the zoo's main fundraiser, and is also a perfect vehicle for the students to demonstrate what they've learned. The college's two-year program trains students how to work with exotic animals by handling many of the zoo's permanent residents. Program graduates become trainers, zookeepers and other animal-related professionals.
WCS Subsidized Killing of Carnivore Study
March 15, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
Decades of U.S. government-subsidized predator control has failed to prevent a long-term decline in the sheep industry, according to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which says that market forces - not predators - are responsible for the drop-off in sheep numbers. The study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Conservation Biology, says that more than 80 years of federally subsidized predator control with a total investment of more than 1.6 billion dollars have not been able to stave off an 85 percent decline in the sheep industry since its peak of 56.2 million animals in 1942. According to the study, predation by coyotes is often cited as the primary cause of the decline. However, 80 years of historical data reveal that a variety of market trends ranging from fluctuating hay prices and rising wages for livestock workers, to the drop in wholesale prices of lamb and wool, are the real culprits behind the industry's drop-off. WCS researcher, Kim Berger, lead author of the study, notes that while predation is not the industry's primary threat, it is one of the few factors over which ranchers feel they have some degree of control, and this can lead to intense pressure on wildlife managers to reduce predator numbers. In 1998 alone, federal agents killed more than 268,000 large carnivores, according to WCS. Although coyotes account for 75-to-95 percent of carnivores killed annually, mountain lions, bobcats, wolves, black bears and grizzly bears are also removed. The perception of carnivores as widespread livestock killers represents a major challenge to their conservation worldwide.
NASA Checks Polar Bear Habitat
March 15, 2006 www.nasa.gov
A NASA-funded expedition to the Arctic plans to map the thickness of snow from mid-March to mid-April, using a new airborne radar to determine the accuracy of satellite measurements of snow's thickness atop polar sea ice. The ability to accurately measure snow depth will help researchers understand much more about how climate changes in Earth's polar regions and will inform wildlife biologists and ecologists about the amount of snow polar bears and other Arctic wildlife have to build their habitats. Polar bears living in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia dig out their dens on snowy slopes to give birth or to shelter their young during blizzards. The temperature under a layer of snow does not usually fall below freezing, so polar bears will also curl up and allow snow to drift around their bodies to form an insulating layer of warmth. The less snowfall on the sea ice the less snow polar bears have to build their dens. Sea ice is an important platform for many polar marine vertebrates. Polar bears use sea ice for migration and hunting. Image to left: Sea ice is an important platform for many polar marine vertebrates. Polar bears use sea ice for migration and hunting. Bears are also excellent swimmer, and dive for several minutes at a time.
Ear canal in Chinese frog Aids Communication
March 15, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
A rare frog that lives in rushing streams and waterfalls of east-central China is able to make itself heard above the roar of flowing water by communicating ultrasonically, says new research funded in part by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health. According to the study, which appears in the March 16, 2006, issue of Nature, attributes that enable the frog to hear ultrasounds are made possible by the presence of an ear canal, which most other frogs don't have. The research may provide a clue into why humans and other animals also have ear canals: to hear high-frequency sounds. Amolops tormotus, the concave-eared torrent frog, is the first non-mammalian species found to be capable of producing and detecting ultrasounds for communication, much like dolphins, bats, and some rodents. It does so, the researchers report, to make itself heard above the din of low-frequency sounds produced in its surroundings so that it can communicate territorial information to other males of its species. In addition to helping researchers puzzle out how the ear evolved, the research may one day enable scientists to develop new strategies or technologies that help people to hear in environments in which there is a lot of background noise.
Calgary Zoo's Bird Flu Plan
March 15, 2006 calsun.canoe.ca By Todd Saelhof
Fears of the avian flu could keep birds cooped up at the Calgary Zoo, say
If the virus ever hits Alberta, precautions could include keeping many of the zoo's exotic birds inside indefinitely -- even during summer -- said Dr. Sandie Black, head of the facility's veterinarian services. "We've developed a plan in case it does end up in North America," said Black of the potentially deadly type of flu virulent in birds overseas that many pundits feel will eventually make its way here. "We're trying to stay pro-active to protect the public, zoo staff and our birds." Black says the plan includes three levels of awareness to safeguard the zoo against the virus. The highest alert level to the threat would be within 200 km of the zoo, and considered a serious challenge for officials. "If concern is high enough, then we'll keep some of the birds inside so they're not interacting with wild ones," said Black, whose facility hosts over 100 species of birds.
Wisconsin Zoo Employee Stole Funds
March 16, 2006 www.greenbaypressgazette.com By Paul Brinkmann
Wendy Johnson, the NEW zoo's former operations manager for 9 years, faces up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines if convicted of a felony criminal charge of business theft. Johnson is accused of taking money from the zoo over four years. She told investigators she took the money to keep her De Pere business afloat. "Most zoo employees are passionate about their work," zoo director Neil Anderson said. "When you see someone take advantage of that, boy, that hurts." The county's internal auditor, said a lapse in accounting procedures may have helped make the alleged thefts possible. Johnson had too much authority over money at the zoo; she could receive and cash checks, disburse funds, make deposits and prepare a bank reconciliation. The auditor recommended that the zoo adopt a rule that no one person should perform more than one of those functions.
Oregon Zoo Conservation Lecture Series
March 16, 2006 www.medfordnews.com
PORTLAND, Oregon - Renowned shorebird expert Dr. Dennis Paulson will speak at the Oregon Zoo on March 28 at 7 p.m. as part of the zoo's 2006 Wildlife Conservation Lecture Series. Paulson's lecture, Travelers on the Wind: The Coming and Going of Shorebirds, is the second in a four-part series, focusing on Pacific Northwest conservation efforts. Paulson is director emeritus of the University of Puget Sound's Slater Museum of Natural History. His talk focuses on the behavior and distribution of sandpipers, plovers and related species, and their role in the coastal ecosystem and threats to their survival. Paulson's most recent guidebook, Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide was published last year. The lecture series is sponsored by Pro Photo Supply and receives additional support from New Belgium Brewing, Southwest Airlines, Portland General Electric and Shiels Obletz Johnsen. Hosts for the series are the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Zoo and the World Forestry Center. Lectures will be held in the Oregon Zoo's Banquet Center and begin at 7 p.m. Cost for each lecture: $10 for nonmembers; $8 for members of host organizations, students or seniors.
New Rosamond Gifford Zoo Director
March 16, 2006 www.syracuse.com By Mark Weiner
Onondaga County officials will promote the zoo's general curator, Chuck Doyle, 56, to take over leadership of Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park when Anne Baker leaves April 1. Doyle is a 28-year zoo employee who has served as interim director since January. With a specialty in elephants, Doyle helped develop the zoo's international reputation for its Asian elephant breeding program, one of the most successful in North America. "I worked very closely with Anne Baker, the Friends of the Zoo and the county for the last 13 years, so I don't see any major changes," Doyle said. "There might be some small changes, but otherwise it is business as usual." Doyle will be the zoo's third director since Onondaga County took over its operations from the city of Syracuse in 1979. The director's job will pay Doyle $61,303 per year, county officials said. Baker, who is leaving for the top job at the Toledo Zoo, was paid about $75,000 per year in her dual role as director of the zoo and Friends of the Zoo.
Micke Grove Zoo Gets $2 Million Boost
March 16, 2006 www.recordnet.com By Greg Kane
LODI - Last week the 49-year-old Micke Grove Zoo began a 2-year, $2 million project. The East End Project involves the demolition of concrete and rebar cages that once housed bears and chimpanzees and eventually replacing them with a landscaped setting featuring snow leopards, Eurasian eagle owls and Asiatic small-clawed otters. Plans to expand an animal intake and veterinarian center is estimated at $300,000 and is also underway. It will double the size of the current facility and could be completed by summer. Last year the AZA accreditation commission suspended Micke Grove's accreditation citing the zoo's aging facilities and lack of veterinary care. Hopefully the improvement projects will be enough to ensure national accreditation which is coming up in a few weeks. Micke Grove is the smallest of the 215 zoos across the country accredited by the AZA, said the zoo's manager, Ken Nieland. Losing that status would hurt the zoo's ability to receive some grants and public funding. It also could dissuade other zoos from sending rare animals to Micke Grove. Both projects are being primarily funded with contributions raised by the Zoological Society, a nonprofit group that pays for special projects at the zoo. The county contributes most of the zoo's $1 million annual operating budget, Nieland said.
Alabama BSE Epidemiological Update
March 16, 2006 www.aphis.usda.gov
WASHINGTON , March 16, 2006 --Today, officials with the state of Alabama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have completed work at the farm in Alabama to recover the remains of the cow that tested earlier this week as positive for BSE. Experts confirmed through dentition that the animal was at least 10 years of age. This means the animal would have been born prior to the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration's 1997 feed ban. In addition to the carcass, federal agriculture officials located a six-week-old calf belonging to the BSE positive animal. The calf has been quarantined and is being moved to NVSL for further observation.
Beardsley Zoo Seeks Bond Money
March 16, 2006 www.connpost.com CHARLES WALSH
Jaguars, spider monkeys, giant anteaters and a Chacoan peccary will come to Bridgeport, if Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo gets $6 million in state bond funding for two new exhibit areas. The zoo is seeking state bonding to support its Andes Adventure project. The two exhibits in Andes Adventure will focus on South American animals. Called Jaguar Walk and Condor Pass, they would combine both new animals and animals already owned by the zoo. "We've been told that we'll get $1.5 million we need to begin planning," said Zoo Director Greg Dancho said. "We're hoping the Legislature will approve the rest of it." If completed, the Andes Adventure project would be the zoo's largest expansion. The $1 million Tropical Rainforest exhibit, opened 15 years ago, was the last significant expansion. Although the zoo is located within the confines of the state-owned Beardsley Park, it is privately owned and operated by the Connecticut Zoological Society as a nonprofit organization. Funding for the zoo's annual $3 million budget comes mainly from donations from foundations and private individuals. The City of Bridgeport allots $800,000 to the zoo each year, $400,000 of which comes from an annual state grant. Most of that money goes to cover the cost of animal food.
Vet Fights Cattle Virus and H5N1
March 16, 2006 www.post-gazette.com By Nicholas Zamiska, The Wall Street Journal
MALANG, Indonesia -- British veterinarian, Peter Roeder, has spent decades fighting rinderpest in Africa and Asia, and now he is fighting H5N1. He believes bird flu may eventually be halted by a lesson learned in the fight against rinderpest: that mass vaccinations don't always work as well as narrowly targeted attacks on the disease. For decades, veterinary authorities used mass vaccination on rinderpest and it helped rid many countries of the disease. But the approach sometimes failed in places where there simply weren't enough veterinarians or vaccine supplies to guarantee thorough coverage, leaving pockets of unprotected animals that could harbor the virus. The key to rinderpest's defeat, he says, lay in being selective. It was better to leave certain areas altogether unprotected, he says, if that allowed a blitzkrieg attack with all available resources on stubborn strongholds of the disease -- so-called viral reservoirs. These reservoirs were often in remote areas, far from veterinary services and vaccines, with a high density of animals in which the virus thrived. The idea has begun to resonate with some bird-flu experts. China last year announced an ambitious plan to vaccinate its billions of birds. But last month, a group of nearly 30 scientists from around the world argued in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that southern China in particular has been a breeding ground for avian influenza viruses for at least a decade, allowing the virus to fester and spread from there. Eliminating the virus at its source, in Guangdong province, they argue, could go a long way to eliminating the disease.
Sibley Challenges Ivory-bill Sighting
March 17, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JAMES GORMAN
Bird authority David A. Sibley, and 3 colleagues believe the bird previously thought to be the ivory billed woodpecker is almost certainly a common pileated woodpecker. The videotape, which has been called an ornithological Zapruder film, was made on April 25, 2004, by M. David Luneau Jr., an engineering professor at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Along with sightings, and tape, a spring 2005 paper, in Science, prompted the federal government to commit $10 million for ivory bill conservation. The last confirmed sighting in the United States, was in 1944. Simply put, the question is whether the blurry white patches visible in the tape are on the top of ivory bill wings or the bottom of pileated wings. The ivory bill is a larger bird, up to almost 21 inches long, but the lowest estimate of its length and the upper limit of pileated length overlap at about 19 inches. Mr. Sibley and his co-authors, along with Mr. Kaufman and other critics, say the viewer is most likely seeing the underside of pileated wings on the upstroke. They do not say the pileated case is airtight, but argue that the images can not be counted as proof of an ivory bill. Their arguments appear in the current issue of Science. Dr. John W. Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory ), said that he could not agree more about the importance of scientific evidence and that he continued to believe that the video clearly showed an ivory bill. Dr. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues offer a rebuttal to the critique in the same issue of Science.
WCS Wolverine Range Study
March 17, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
ST. ANTHONY, Idaho - A multiple-year study of wolverines by the Wildlife Conservation Society and state and federal agencies has found that wolverines travel hundreds of miles. One male, whose territory covered 14,000 square miles, traveled 250 miles in 19 days. Jeff Burrell, Greater Yellowstone program manager for the society, said "Our study was the first to put GPS collars on wolverines to understand how they travel around the Yellowstone region." The study, began in 2000 and is set to go at least through 2008. It has turned up two of the six reproductive den sites documented in the lower 48 states, including one in Idaho's Caribou Targhee National Forest. The study area includes eastern Idaho and much of western Montana and Wyoming. The goal of the research is to get an idea of the number of wolverines in the area, identify wildlife travel corridors, learn how wolverines are affected by such recreation activities as snowmobiling and backcountry skiing and make management recommendations about habitat and wolverine populations. Burrell said wolverines spend most of their time at higher elevations, only entering valleys during their travels from one place to another. The study has not found any interaction between wolverines and wolves, though wolverines have confronted black bears and grizzly bears. Although they have been killed by bears, they have also successfully driven grizzly bears off a carcass.
Group Faults St Louis Zoo on Elephants
March 17, 2006 www.chron.com By CHERYL WITTENAUER
ST. LOUIS - A California-based In Defense of Animals, citing zoo medical records obtained through Missouri's public records law, said Saint Louis Zoo elephants suffer from foot and joint disease that it attributes to improper housing. The group said six of the zoo's seven elephants suffer from lameness, joint problems and chronic foot abscesses, and that one elephant's foot infection is so severe she wears sandals on her back feet. Claiming the Zoo is violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, the group submitted a petition to the Dept of Agriculture last month seeking clarification and enforcement of regulations for zoo elephants' environment. The zoo disputed the claims and said the group "grossly misinterpreted" its medical records. The Department of Agriculture said it plans to publish the group's petition in The Federal Register to solicit comments. The department will consider making changes if evidence is provided that warrants them.
WWF Sumatran Rhino Study
March 17, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
World Wildlife Fund has released the results of a field survey conducted in 2005 by about 120 workers in 16 teams from the Sabah Foundation, the Sabah Wildlife Department, WWF, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Parks, S.O.S. Rhino, Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, University Malaysia Sabah and Operation Raleigh. They found that poaching has significantly reduced Borneo's population of Sumatran rhinos, but a small group continues to survive in the "Heart of Borneo." The survey found evidence of at least 13 rhinos in the interior of the Malaysian state of Sabah in northeast Borneo. WWF and Malaysian authorities have launched rhino protection units to patrol the area where the rhinos were found. In addition to the 13 rhinos found in the interior of Sabah, a few individuals still survive in other parts of the state that weren't covered in this survey. Previous estimates of rhino numbers had suggested there were 30 to 70 rhinos on the island of Borneo. Populations in other parts of the island are believed to be extinct. There are believed to be fewer than 300 Sumatran rhinos left in the world and they are considered one of the most endangered rhino species because of the intensity of poaching.
Gorilla Baby Boom At San Diego Zoo
March 17, 2006 www.nbc17.com
SAN DIEGO -- For the first time in the San Diego Zoo's history, two gorilla babies were born in the same troop within less than two weeks. One was born on March 5, and the other on March 14. Visitors got their first look at the babies on Thursday. Keepers at the zoo have determined that one of the babies is a boy, but do not know the gender of the other one yet.
WHO Bird Flu Database Should be Public
March 17, 2006 www.washingtonpost.com By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER
GENEVA -- The U.N. health agency, under criticism for keeping its database on bird flu research out of public view, said some countries and scientists that have contributed their samples and research have yet to agree to share the information. The password-protected database, details of which were first reported on earlier this month in the journal Science and The Wall Street Journal, was created in 2003 at the request of southeast Asian countries first hit by the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. WHO has been urging countries and researchers to allow genetic sequences of the virus stored in the database to be made available publicly, but countries and scientists have so far resisted, Ilaria Capua, an Italian veterinarian and bird flu expert, bypassed the database after a laboratory in Padua, Italy, identified H5N1 in samples from Nigeria last month, opting instead to log the information from there and from wild swans in Italy in GenBank, a non-restricted database of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "I did not want to put the sequence in a database with restricted access," she told The AP in Italy. "If this is truly the most serious public health threat in the last 100 years, I believe there is no time to waste."
Baby Elephants at Indy zoo
March 18, 2006 www.upi.com
INDIANAPOLIS, March 18 (UPI) -- The Indianapolis Zoo is enjoying a baby boom among its elephants with a 5-month-old and a new arrival expected soon. Kedar, who weighed about 200 pounds when he was born in October, has more than doubled his weight to 482 pounds. He is still nursing, although the staff have started him on solid foods. Zookeepers are also trying to teach him discipline and good manners, in anticipation of the 15,000 pound African bull elephant he will become. Ivory, who already has a 5-year-old named Ajani, is expecting her next in September. The baby has been monitored on ultrasound but zoo staff are not yet sure of its sex. The zoo is home to seven elephants, including the two young ones: Sophi, 38; Kubwa, Kedar's mother, 30; Tombi, 29; Ivory, 24, and MacLean, a 24-year-old bull on loan to the zoo.
Detroit Zoo Opens Zoofari Market
March 18, 2006 www.detnews.com
ROYAL OAK -- The Detroit Zoo is hoping that a new 2,400-square-foot animal-themed market will bring the struggling attraction a little more money. The Zoofari Market gift shop, set to open Wednesday inside the zoo admission gates, will sell animal-related merchandise as well as fudge prepared in the store, homemade muffins, take-out salads and sandwiches, and specialty coffees. The shop also will feature jackets, T-shirts and other clothing, stuffed animals and toys depicting species from all over the globe. There also will be an African section with masks and musical instruments. An education and family center was expanded, with more animal-themed books, interactive toys, games and puzzles. The zoo narrowly avoided closing earlier this year after Detroit announced it could no longer afford to pay $5 million a year for operations.
Israel Confirms H5N1 Presence
March 19, 2006 today.reuters.com
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said tests showed the avian flu virus that infected poultry in the south of the country is the lethal H5N1 strain. Israel began culling flocks of turkeys and chickens in infected coops over the weekend after thousands of birds died at three farms. Officials said on Friday the avian flu had killed them but they were awaiting the results of laboratory tests to determine its strain. The Agriculture Ministry, in a posting on its Web site late on Sunday, said the tests showed that H5N1, a strain that has spread across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia and killed at least 98 people worldwide since 2003, had reached Israel. It said further culling would be carried out at farms within a 3-km (2-mile) radius of the infected coops, the Agriculture Ministry said. "The situation is under control," the ministry said in its update on the Internet, urging Israelis to continue to eat "properly cooked" poultry and eggs. Agriculture Ministry officials said workers were killing turkey and chickens in the infected areas by poisoning their drinking water and burying their carcasses in pits.
Eagle Lays First Egg in 50 Yrs on Santa Cruz
March 20, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - For the first time in more than 50 years, an eagle has laid an egg in a nest on Santa Cruz Island. The event is considered a milestone in the four-year effort to reintroduce the eagles to the island off the California coast, after tons of DDT dumped in the ocean, decimated the island populations in the 1960s. A $25 million subsidy funds the project led by David Garcelon, president of the Institute for Wildlife Studies. The last known successful nesting of a bald eagle on the four Northern Channel Islands was in 1949 on Anacapa Island. Earlier this week, funding to support five breeding pairs of bald eagles on another Channel island, Santa Catalina, was cut off until it is determined whether the birds can survive and flourish on their own there. The Santa Catalina eagles continue to produce fragile eggs, officials said. Funding will continue for the reintroduction of the birds on Santa Cruz and other nearby Channel Islands that already have about two dozen birds.
China Says Bird Flue Vaccinations Effective
March 20, 2006 www.alertnet.org Reuters
BEIJING, - China's bird flu vaccines are the best in the world and no healthy-looking poultry has been confirmed infected with the H5N1 strain of the disease, according to China's agriculture minister. The number of bird flu outbreaks in poultry dropped to 32 last year from 50 in 2004, and most of the cases were in areas where vaccines were not properly used, the official China Daily quoted minister Jia Youling as saying. Julie Hall, in charge of the World Health Organisation's outbreak response in China, has said that studies are needed to see if China's vaccination programme might be "masking" the virus, which has killed about 100 people in Asia and the Middle East since 2003.
Seattle Elephant Returns Home
March 21, 2006 seattlepi.nwsource.com By KATHY MULADY
Seven months after transferring Bamboo, a 39-year-old female Asian elephant from Seattle to Tacoma, zoo officials in both cities acknowledge the arrangement hasn't worked and will be terminated soon. She was sent to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma in August, partly because she wasn't getting along with another elephant at Woodland Park Zoo. Although she has no problem with staff her interactions with the Tacoma's other 2 elephants hasn't worked out. They have rejected each other," said John Houck, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium deputy director. When around the other two elephants, Bamboo makes noise, kicks up dirt and flags her ears out, all typical behavior when an elephant wants to look intimidating. Bamboo will return to Seattle in the next 2 of months, and the zoo will evaluate what to do long term with Bamboo. "She may continue to live indefinitely at Woodland Park Zoo. Or, if we find a suitable zoo that serves the best interest of Bamboo. We will consider that option. Once she arrives, our focus will be to reintegrate her into our herd," said Woodland Park Deputy Director Bruce Bohmke. Bamboo definitely won't be going to the sprawling elephant sanctuary deep in Tennessee as some animal-rights activists were hoping.
Poultry Industry Prepares for Bird Flu
March 21, 2006 www.nytimes.com By MELANIE WARNER
Every seven weeks a chicken grower for Tyson Foods in Georgia tests a group of his chickens before the birds are sent to be slaughtered. All people who enter or leave the chicken houses must walk through disinfecting baths. And visitors and workers must wear plastic booties over their shoes. Poultry producers and restaurants doubt that their chickens will be infected by avian flu, but they are concerned that if the virus gets to the US, people will eat less chicken, simply out of fear. Poultry producers sell 26 billion pounds of chicken each year in the US. After avian flu was discovered in wild swans in Europe, poultry consumption declined 70 percent in Italy. In France, sales are down 30% and in some areas of India, sales are down 40 percent. Public health officials consider it unlikely that people will catch the virus from eating chicken. Chicken producers say that any sick birds would immediately be destroyed and would not enter the market. While the deadly strain of avian flu, called H5N1, now hitting Europe and Asia can reside in poultry meat, the virus is killed by the temperatures normally used to cook poultry.
Parks Struggle to Keep Wildlife Healthy
March 21, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JIM ROBBINS
PINEDALE, Wyo. - In winter, park officials toss hay to feed wild elk at 22 feeding stations in the Yellowstone ecosystem. But feeding concentrates the elk in such large numbers that brucellosis spreads easily and reaches levels 10 times as great as the natural rate, or even higher. The disease causes elk cows to abort their calves. Brucellosis is one of several diseases that affect wildlife and domestic animals and that have appeared in the national parks. Controlling them poses a challenge to the National Park Service, which has to decide on strategies and try to meet a number of competing needs of hunters, tourists, ranchers and the animals. In 2003, brucellosis spread from elk into cattle and forced the destruction of hundreds of head of infected cows. Wyoming lost its disease-free status, as did Idaho when the disease was recently found there. Now every cow leaving those states has to be tested. Chronic wasting disease looms as a potentially bigger danger. It has been found in deer 65 miles from here. "These feed grounds have been a problem for the last 30 years," said Andrew P. Dobson, a professor of ecology and epidemiology at Princeton who has studied diseases near Yellowstone. "As soon as C.W.D. gets there, it's going to be a problem." Managing wildlife disease is a major problem in the nation's parks, which are charged with protecting threatened and endangered species. The Park Service has created a rapid response team for diseases, largely because of West Nile virus and avian flu, both of them diseases that affect people. With people and wildlife often in proximity in the parks, the problems are compounded.
Will Taiwan Accept Pandas from China?
March 21, 2006 www.latimes.com By Mark Magnier
WOLONG NATURE RESERVE, China - The government of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, finds itself tied in knots over China's latest diplomatic ploy - an offer of 2 pandas. Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of China which his pro-independence government rejects. "The pandas are a trick, just like the Trojan horse," said lawmaker Huang Shi-cho of the Taiwan Solidarity Union party. "Pandas are cute, but they are meant to destroy Taiwan's psychological defenses." Unfortunately for the Chen camp, most Taiwanese appear happy to have their psychological defenses destroyed by an animal that has melted hearts for centuries. One poll found that more than 70% are in favor of accepting the gift. China has seized the public relations advantage at every turn. It announced the offer during a visit to China last year by a pro-Beijing Taiwanese opposition leader, a historic rapprochement that already had Chen reeling. They have released news articles about various "trial marriages" between panda candidate pairs and details about their personalities, DNA, hobbies (tree climbing) and, according to state media, the "language lessons" they received in Taiwan's Minnan dialect. Although China is a nation that doesn't vote for its leaders, it encouraged millions to vote for the pandas, or at least their names, announcing the choice of "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan" - a play on "unify" - before hundreds of millions of Chinese New Year TV viewers. Chen, whose government is expected to make a decision whether to accept them by early April, quickly suggested they be renamed "independence" and "nation-building." "Peaceful pandas vs. bellicose Chen," screamed a headline in the China Daily, the English-language Communist Party newspaper distributed in China.
Quebec City Zoo Will Close March 31
March 21, 2006 www.canada.com
QUEBEC -- The financially strapped Quebec City zoo is set to close its doors March 31. Michel Despres, the minister responsible for the provincial capital, presented a plan to Quebec Mayor Andree Boucher that required financial assistance from regional businesses and the federal and municipal governments, but the municipalities in the Quebec Metropolitan Community declined to participate. According to the deal reached with the province, the City of Quebec would have become responsible for the zoo but require other members of the regional municipal government to help absorb the $5 million deficit.
Keeping Grizzlies on Endangered List
March 22, 2006 www.enn.com By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. - More than 250 scientists and researchers have signed a letter protesting a federal proposal to no longer protect grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area under the Endangered Species Act. The letter was addressed to Chris Servheen, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator. Servheen has said he expects a final decision on the proposal by year's end or early next year. Among those signing the letter were primatologist Jane Goodall and bear researchers Chuck Jonkel and John Craighead Sr. USFWS proposed "delisting" the bears in the Yellowstone area last November, declaring them recovered. The bears currently are classified as threatened. The agency said the population has grown 4 percent to 7 percent a year since the mid-'90s, and it estimated the number of bears at more than 600. The scientists and researchers said in their letter that an isolated population of 500 to 600 bears does not constitute a biologically recovered one. A population of 2,000 to 3,000 is needed for genetic diversity and to withstand regional variations such as food sources, they said. A smaller one is likely to go extinct, they argued.
Duluth Zoo Director Goes to Ross Park
March 22, 2006 www.duluthsuperior.com BY CHUCK FREDERICK
Mike Janis, Lake Superior Zoo director the past 10 1/2 years, will become executive director of the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park in early January. "It's been a good ride here,'' said Janis, 57. "I had a good offer, a good opportunity to move on. Things have really been stagnating here. Over the last several years, the budget for the zoo has not really had anything but decreases. That's no secret. The situation has been very tight for the city. I fully understand that. But it's still frustrating.'' The Lake Superior Zoo's annual budget has remained at just over $1 million since 2002. The zoo typically operates $400,000 to $500,000 in the red, according to the city. This year, staffing costs were cut nearly 6 percent, from $628,000 to $591,000, because of the elimination of a zookeeper position, Janis said. In October, a 2006 budget proposal by Mayor Herb Bergson included a 75-cent increase in adult admissions at the zoo, from $7 to $7.75. The mayor said the increase could generate as much $50,000 a year and help the zoo become more self-sufficient.
Pittsburgh Zoo's Elephant Breeding Center
March 22, 2006 kdka.com/loca
SOMERSET -- The Pittsburgh Zoo has finalized a deal to buy a former hunting
ranch to build a new elephant breeding center. The zoo reached the agreement
yesterday with Glen Savage Ranch for the 724-acre property near Fairhope. Zoo
officials now plan to start fundraising and soliciting construction proposals
for the site. In January, the zoo announced it would open the elephant
conservation center, saying it would be unique and international in scope. Zoo
representatives expect to introduce three male elephants to the property within
two years. They will then introduce female elephants along with cheetahs, black
rhinoceroses, African wild dogs and zebras.
How Bird Flu Spreads
March 22, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK (AP) -- Scientists say they've found a reason bird flu isn't spreading easily from person to person: The virus concentrates itself too deep in the respiratory tract to be spewed out by coughing and sneezing. But the virus could change that behavior by genetic mutation, taking a step toward unleashing a worldwide outbreak of lethal flu. Experts said the new finding doesn't indicate how likely such a pandemic is. The virus may also need other mutations to take off in the human population, they said. Still, the work suggests a particular sign to watch for in new virus samples to help gauge the danger to humans. The work, reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, comes from University of Wisconsin-Madison virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka with colleagues in Japan. Similar results, from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, will be published online Thursday by the journal Science.
Herring Return to the Bronx River
March 22, 2006 www.nytimes.com By JOSEPH BERGER
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo, yesterday stocked the Bronx River, the city's only true freshwater river, with 201 herring it hopes will spawn in the next few weeks and breed herring for centuries to come. It is the first time in 350 years that they have been seen in the river. More than $15 million in federal funds have been utilized to achieve the rebirth of the once-squalid river's rebirth. The society wants to restore a species of fish that was abundant in the 21-mile-long Bronx River until colonists like Jonas Bronck, for whom the river and the borough are named, built dams for flour mills that made it impossible for the herring to reach their spawning grounds. Stephen Sautner, the society's assistant director of conservation communications, compared the restoration of herring to the return of peregrine falcons to Manhattan. Cleanup efforts started in 1997, and today the river is an often-idyllic place where canoeists paddle and where 45 species of fish, including eel, smallmouth bass and sunfish, thrive.
Bird Flu Threatens Endangered Species
March 22, 2006 www.nytimes.com By REUTERS
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - UNEP (The United Nations Environment Program) is
concerned that the H5N1 virus may pose a threat to endangered mammal species
including big cats such as tigers and leopards, small cats such as civets and
other mammals like martens, weasels, badgers and otters. Countries like Vietnam,
that have a rich variety of wild species and a large poultry industry that has
been hit by avian flu outbreaks are especially vulnerable. Since late 2003, the
H5N1 strain of avian flu has killed more than 100 people and killed or led to
the culling of some 200 million birds globally. It also has been detected in a
marten, a weasel-like mammal, in Germany, and there have been reported
infections in cats in Germany and a dog in Azerbaijan.
In December 2003, two tigers and two leopards, fed on fresh chicken carcasses, died unexpectedly at a zoo in Thailand. Subsequent investigation identified H5N1 in tissue samples. UNEP said avian flu could also pose an indirect threat to rare animals or 'bushmeat' if concerns about chicken meat or poultry culls forced poor people in rural areas to turn to wildlife for their protein.
Nepal's Rhino Diplomacy
March 22, 2006 www.hindustantimes.com
Nepal's Crown Prince Paras is reaching out to Europe by offering a pair of rhinos to an Austrian Zoo. But the foreign policy spokesperson of Austria's Green Party, Lunacek Ulrike, has urged the Austrian government not to have any contact with a "regime that violates human rights". Paras, the highly unpopular heir to the throne, was to visit Austria, France and the United Arab Emirates, with his wife, Crown Princess Himani, Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey, and an entourage that would cost the cash-strapped government about Nepali Rs 60 million. Since the budget allocated for high-level visits - about Rs 90 million - had already been spent, the obedient finance ministry diverted the money meant for government employees to foot the bill, the Kathmandu Post daily reported.
L.A. Zoo Considers Elephant Exhibit
March 22, 2006 www.latimes.com By Lynn Doan
The L.A. Zoo had planned to expand its half-acre elephant space to just over an acre, but a city report released in December concluded that the exhibit should be 3.5 acres for the Zoo's 3 elephants. The expansion, complete with waterholes and a bathing falls would cost $38.7 million and be one of the largest zoo exhibits in the U.S. With the city facing an anticipated $271-million budget shortfall, some council members have expressed concern about spending money on the zoo. The proposal also brought objections, however, from activists who have argued for months that the animals deserve a much larger sanctuary. The zoo's current home for pachyderms Billy, Ruby and Gita is already being demolished to make way for new construction, but what that will look like is uncertain.
Pet-Human Link in Resistant Bacteria
March 22, 2006 www.nytimes.com By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN
ATLANTA, March 21 - Antibiotic resistance is now showing up in a small but growing number of pets in this country, Canada and Europe. A problem has developed involving the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause of staphylococcal infections among people. The same genetic strains of S. aureus have been found among human and animal cases, Dr. Nina Morano, of the CDC, said the problem was serious enough that her agency was adding questions about exposure to dogs, cats and other pets in large studies intended to determine their role in human staphylococcal infections. Dr. Shelley C. Rankin, a microbiologist at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, said she suspected that the frequency of disease transfer between pets and humans was extremely low, far less than 1 percent. She reported on S. aureus isolated from 38 animal cases at her hospital from 2002 through 2005. She said six of the cases "almost certainly were infected" at her hospital, the world's largest veterinary hospital. An additional 12 cases might have been infected there, she said. After S. aureus among humans developed resistance to penicillin many years ago, doctors prescribed another antibiotic, methicillin. But S. aureus infections soon became resistant to methicillin.
India's' Oldest Tortoise Dies
March 23, 2006 news.bbc.co.uk
KOLKATA, India -- Adwaita, which means "the only one" in Bengali, was the oldest resident of the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta. He was found dead by keepers on Wednesday. His shell cracked some months ago and a wound had developed. West Bengal officials said records showed Adwaita was at least 150 years old but other evidence pointed to 250. The shell of this Aldabra tortoise, will now be carbon-dated. Historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India. Clive was reportedly given 4 tortoises from the Seychelles but Adwaita was the only survivor. He was brought to the zoo about 130 years ago. Aldabra tortoises are found in the four-island Aldabra atoll of the Seychelles, a UN World Heritage Site that now has about 152,000 giant tortoises. They average about 120kg (265lbs) and are thought the longest-lived of all animals. The director of the zoo, Subir Chowdhury, said Adwaita's shell would be preserved and kept there. Lord Clive later became an opium addict and committed suicide in 1774 at the age of 49.
Humpback Whale Warbling Study
March 23, 2006 www.innovations-report.com
The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours. The research, published online in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, offers a new approach to studying animal communication, although the authors do not claim that humpback whale songs meet the linguistic criteria necessary for a true language. "Humpback songs are not like human language, but elements of language are seen in their songs," said Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and first author of the paper. With limited sight and sense of smell in water, marine mammals are more dependent on sound-which travels four times faster in water than air-to communicate. For six months each year, all male humpback whales in a population sing the same song during mating season. Thought to attract females, the song evolves over time.
Reid Park Zoo Won't Breed Shaba
March 23, 2006 www.azstarnet.com By Rob O'Dell
TUCSON, Arizona -- The Reid Park Zoo will no longer attempt to breed its 26-year-old African elephant Shaba. The decision was based on new research that older first-time elephant mothers have a lower success rate and a greater chance for complications, said zoo administrator Susan Basford. As elephants get older, pregnancies certainly become more problematic," She said it was a decision made solely by the Reid Park Zoo, but it was based on information from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the Elephant Species Survival Plan Steering Committee. Last year that committee had recommended that Shaba have two babies in her life, but that was revised this week, according to the zoo. Basford said the decision not to breed Shaba - who lives with Connie, an Asian elephant - won't have any impact on the planned $8.5 million expanded enclosure for the elephants that was approved by City Council in 2005.
Rare surgery on hyena at Vizag Zoo
March 23 2006 www.newindpress.com
VISAKHAPATNAM: An 8-yr-old striped male hyena, which had suffered a severe injury to its lower jaw in a bomb explosion which was intended to kill wild boars was rescued by the farmers involved and brought to the zoo by the forest department on March 15. According to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park here curator B Vijaya Kumar, the traumatised and dehydrated hyena was stabilized with intravenous fluids, analgesics and antibiotics. A radiograph revealed multiple fractures - mandible-midline fracture and bilateral communitated fracture of mandible. A severe soft tissue laceration was also observed. A tem of veterinarians managed to repair the damage. A powered bur was used to fix mini-plates on the fractured fragments of mandible for immobilisation and the soft tissue was closed as per the routine procedure. After the three-hour operation, the hyena recovered and was put on oral fluids. Post-operative care was given by flushing its oral cavity with normal saline water. The animal is slowly recuperating from the stress of the surgery and recovering under critical captive care. Recovery is expected to take five to six weeks' time after which it can lead a normal life, the curator said.
The Georgia Aquarium Review
March 23, 2006 www.nytimes.com By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
ATLANTA, March 19 - The Georgia Aquarium is billed as the world's largest aquarium: over 100,000 fish are displayed in five galleries and 60 habitats in the more than 500,000 square foot building; there is a 6.2 million gallon pool in which 1.8 million pounds of salt and minerals have been dissolved since last October. Its acrylic walls are 2 feet thick and it contains two whale sharks - the world's largest fish. A stainless steel "commissary" behind the scenes holds 20,000 pounds of frozen food at minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is almost completely the creation of a single man, Bernard Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot, as a "gift" to the people of the city in which his company began. He and his wife, Billi, donated $250 million of the $290 million cost. The land itself was donated by the Coca-Cola Company, which is building another attraction next door. In fact, every gallery (and a 3-D theater) bears the label of a corporate sponsor: AirTran, BellSouth, Georgia-Pacific, Home Depot, the Southern Company, SunTrust Bank. The aquarium intends to overwhelm visitors the moment they pass through a narrow entrance walled by swimming fish and enter the cavernous central space, where public dining areas are surrounded by entrances to thematic galleries - "Ocean Voyager," "River Scout," "Cold Water Quest" "Tropical Diver" and "Georgia Explorer"
Quagga "Breeder" Dies
March 23 2006 www.nytimes.com
In his youth, Reinhold E. Rau had seen German zoo directors try to recreate an extinct ox called the aurochs by crossbreeding existing oxen with the size and coloring of the aurochs, and conceived the idea of doing the same for the quagga - but that would be scientifically feasible only if the quagga was, as he suspected, a subspecies of the plains zebra, Equus burchelli, which had lost its stripes to better blend into the treeless Karoo semidesert of southern Africa. In 1969, while working as a taxidermist on the South African museum's quagga, he found that the skin had not been tanned and had been badly cleaned. He managed to save some blood vessels, muscle and tissue that still clung to it, and in 1981 shared the samples with Ollie Ryder of San Diego Zoo and scientists from the University of California. In 1985, they confirmed that the quagga's mitochondrial DNA was essentially identical to that of the zebra. He began searching for zebras with brownish stripes and crossbreed them with zebras with very pale rumps, even though he had seen the former in herds in Namibia's Etosha Park, and the latter in eastern South Africa. As the years passed, Mr. Rau began keeping small herds anywhere he could find fences that could hold them, grass that would feed them and landowners willing to accommodate them. By last summer, he said he thought he was nearing success: a stallion and three mares on a private reserve belonging to a plastics manufacturer had produced a foal named Henry who had a striped head, but a pelt that was a soft yellowish-brown from his ribcage to his buttocks.
'High Tech' DNA Detectives
March 23, 2006 www.sdnews.com By Michelle Hackney
San Diego County Regional Occupation Program (ROP) Biotechnology students at High Tech High School (HTH) recently worked with the San Diego Zoo's Department of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) to complete a successful DNA identification process of dried meat in what proved to be pioneering research for the preservation of endangered animal species in Africa. The student's achievement paves the way for the identification of previously unidentifiable products and meats exported from Africa. To date, dried and seasoned jerky-type substances exported from the region have been notoriously difficult to identify. The technology utilized in this project will give policing agencies the ability to identify which food substances contain bush meat, the term used to describe meat from wild game and can include endangered species ranging from gorillas and chimpanzees to the duiker. Identification of this bush meat will further enable authorities to determine whether illegal hunting and trafficking of meat from endangered animals has taken place.
Study of Wild Wolves and Moose
March 24, 2006 www.nytimes.com
Wolves are not the efficient killing machines portrayed in myths. They actually have very poor success rates with moose. With powerful kicks, young moose can fight off a pack of hungry wolves -- or simply outrun them in winter. ''Moose can trot through two feet of snow at 20 miles per hour,'' according to biologist Rolf Peterson. ''That's faster than the world champion cross-country skiers. Wolves cannot keep up if the snow is soft.'' The ''selective nature'' of wolf predation is among the discoveries Rolf Peterson has made by studying moose and wolves on Isle Royale. Another is that Isle Royale moose are uniquely susceptible to arthritis, which he learned by examining their bones. Malnutrition in infancy is known to be one cause, but Peterson suspects there's a genetic link -- and that his moose research may eventually have crossover benefits for humans. Moose are believed to have swum to the 45-mile-long archipelago from Minnesota in the early 1900s. Wolves apparently migrated across the frozen lake a half-century later. He began working with Durwood Allen, a Purdue scientist on Isle Royale. When Allen retired in 1975, Peterson took over the program and moved it to Michigan Tech in Houghton, a Michigan town about 60 miles southeast of Isle Royale.
Protecting Endangered Species Reduces Poverty
March 24, 2006 www.sciencedaily.com
Saving endangered species helps reduce poverty and improves the lives of local communities, according to a new World Wildlife Fund report. At the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Curitiba, Brazil, WWF urges the CBD and member governments to integrate species conservation work into efforts to alleviate poverty. "Now's the time to recognize the strong connections between sustainable economic development, a healthy environment, and successful species conservation," said Ginette Hemley, vice president for species conservation, World Wildlife Fund. "WWF's new report provides clear evidence that when endangered species benefit, people also benefit." By examining six projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the new report shows that WWF's work to save endangered wildlife helps eradicate poverty and hunger, as well as promote sustainable and fair development in rural areas. Conservation and sustainable management of species and their habitats means better protection of forest, freshwater and marine habitats. As a result, the rural poor who depend on these areas have more access to the goods and services they provide. Incomes increase and access to freshwater, health, education and women's rights often also improve.
Houston Zoo's $100 million Projects
March 24, 2006 www.chron.com By SALATHEIA BRYANT
The Houston Zoo plans to increase their elephant exhibit space to slightly more than 3 acres, ample space for their 3 Asian elephants and at least three more animals. An additional pool, and several observation areas that will allow more intimate public viewing of their habitat. The habitat expansion will start in late fall, and is part of an extensive $100 million renovation "The new exhibit will include additional trees, grass and varied terrain" said Sharon Joseph, director of animal programs. Expanding the elephant exhibit also will cause a domino effect on other exhibits at the Houston Zoo, officials said. The giraffes will be moved to a location near the children's zoo and the Texas wetlands exhibit that includes alligators, fish and turtles will be eliminated. The maned wolves and cinereous vulture exhibits also will be dropped, but the animals likely will remain at the zoo in another location. The Houston Zoo expansion will be done in phases, and the improvements will radically change the appearance of the 55-acre facility.
Indonesia Endangers Sumatran Elephants
March 24, 2006 news.yahoo.com US Newswire
WASHINGTON -- WWF researchers have discovered that ten endangered wild Sumatran elephants are being kept chained to trees without enough food or water in the Riau Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in violation of an agreement the government signed in 2004 known as the Riau Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Protocol. The elephants have been made homeless by the destruction of the forest they inhabited. Government authorities captured the elephants ten days ago after they raided crops and terrorized residents of a nearby village. "In order to keep elephants from damaging property and raiding crops they must have space to live," said Sybille Klenzendorf, lead biologist of WWF's Species Conservation Program. "This means immediately halting the destruction of Riau's forest habitat by loggers and developers of oil palm plantations." The ten elephants are part of a herd of between 17 and 51 in the Bengkalis District of Riau Province. The Riau government said it wanted to capture and translocate all of the homeless elephants to the newly designated Tesso Nilo National Park in the center of the province. Currently, only about 94,000 acres of the Tesso Nilo National Park have been protected out of a proposed 247,000 acres. The entire area must be protected before it can be considered as a feasible location for the captured elephants, Klenzendorf said.
Cincinnati Zoo Building Boom
March 27, 2006 news.cincinnati.com BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The first phase of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's transformation is nearly complete. It includes the $8.4 million Harold C. Schott Education center featuring a 60 foot glass atrium will house a tropical habitat will open in. Guests will have the opportunity to spend the night there with a two-toed sloth, boa constrictor and flock of tropical birds. An on-site, accredited high school known as the Zoo Academy will accommodate 50 students interested in preparing for a career in zoo work. It's currently housed in the Frisch's Education Center off the zoo's main parking lot. A 200-seat theater where the public can catch visiting lecturers and conservation experts. At one end is the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and at the other end is the new $4 million Chase Hospital will open in May with a surgical suite 3 times the size of the current hospital. The nine-member veterinary staff to provide better care for the zoo's collection and State-of-the-art labs will allow technicians to analyze and freeze tissue and fluid samples for future study and to share with other zoos. There is a larger animal holding area for extended stays, a necropsy room, a nursery within the hospital for monitoring struggling infants and a small apartment for people spending the night. The 12,000-square-foot facility replaces a 4,100- one. That facility will be converted to a quarantine area, where animals new to the zoo can be held 30-45 days. Both projects are being financed through the Circle of Life campaign - donations from individuals, corporations and foundations - and a smattering of state and federal money.
H5N1 Human to Human Infection
March 27, 2006 www.nytimes.com By DENISE GRADY and GINA KOLATA
In papers published by Nature and Science, the authors propose that the H5N1 virus may be physically unable to reach vulnerable cells deep inside human lungs. Although good at spreading through large populations of birds, it has infected fewer than 200 people since 2003. The virus has killed about half of those infected and could spark a devastating human flu pandemic if it mutates to spread easily between people. For this to happen, it would need to be able to attach to, infect and replicate in human cells. After multiplying, coughs and sneezes would spread the virus to other people. But this week's findings show that the virus is rarely able to attach to cells in the upper respiratory tract. What's more, it seems that mucus could be trapping the virus, which is then expelled before it can replicate, says Thijs Kuiken of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
National Audubon Society Endangered Bird List
March 27, 2006 www.redorbit.com
WASHINGTON -- According to a report released by the National Audubon Society. "America's Top Ten Most Endangered Birds", development pressures, invasive species, and global warming are threatening many bird species with extinction. The proposed Congressional action to weaken the Endangered Species Act is cited as the gravest threat facing endangered bird species in the US today. Top 10 Endangered Birds & their Habitats: Ivory-billed Woodpecker; California Condor; Whooping Crane; Gunnison Sage-Grouse; Kirtland's Warbler; Piping Plover; Florida Scrub-Jay; Ashy Storm-Petrel; Golden-cheeked Warbler; Kittlitz's Murrelet; and ten island birds of Hawaii. Their habitats span the entire East Coast and are dotted across the nation, in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
IFC Promotes Biodiversity Market
March 27, 2006 www.enn.com By Gilbert Le Gras, Reuters
WASHINGTON - The World Bank's IFC (International Finance Corp.) has unveiled
a Web site this week to help industry avoid harming the ecosystems they work in
as well as to entice new markets that reward biodiversity protection.
Biodiversity conservation markets are still at the conceptual stage and IFC
officials met industry leaders in Brazil this week to brainstorm on how to make
the leap from direct project financing to market-driven incentives. Under the
Kyoto Protocol, industries in developed countries offset carbon dioxide
emissions by buying credits from projects that cut emissions in developing
countries. The Kyoto pact commits about 40 industrial countries including
European Union nations, Russia and Japan to cut their emissions of heat-trapping
gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012. Hedge funds are looking
at investing more in carbon trading as European utilities opt to buy credits
from developing countries until they switch to cleaner power generation. Two
years ago the IFC committed about a quarter of the funding to a $21.6 million
marine aquarium protection project in the Philippines and Indonesia. "The
initiative is shifting the industry from cyanide fishing and coral blasting to
sustainable techniques," said Richard Canes, knowledge and innovation
manager in the environment and social development department at the IFC.
The IFC's biodiversity Web site can be found at: www.ifc.org/BiodiversityGuide
Backyard Bird Count Sets Record
March 27, 2006 www.birdlife.org
The ninth annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which took place from 17-20 February, set new participation records in the United States and Canada. From backyards to wildlife refuges, a record-breaking 623 bird species were tallied and 7.5 million individual birds sited during the four-day event, coordinated by Audubon (BirdLife in the US) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants sent in more than 60,000 checklists, providing a comprehensive snapshot of the continent's birdlife. American Robins Turdus migratorius are typically reported in greatest number by observers in the balmy southern states, but they inundated the Northwest this year, including Washington State, where flocks of 40,000 or more were seen and totals skyrocketed to 96 percent above last year's count. In contrast, tallies of robins were down to less than one-half of their 2005 numbers in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi for reasons that are as yet unclear. Although most insect-loving birds travel south of the United States in winter, warm weather may also have enticed some swallow and warbler species to stay farther north than usual, living on a partly vegetarian diet. The number of bird watchers who reported Orange-crowned Warblers Vermivora celata rose by more than 50 percent compared with last year and they reported twice as many birds, some of which were eating suet and nectar from feeders. Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor, which can feed on bayberry berries during winter, have broadened their distribution from 11 states in 2001 to 20 states in 2006. Adjusted numbers were up by 134 percent compared with last year. More information is available at www.birdsource.org/gbbc
Uganda & Rwanda Gorilla Tourism
March 27, 2006 allafrica.com By Gerald Tenywa
KAMPALA, Uganda - A population of 760 gorillas lives in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. Bwindi park is home to half of the gorilla population and the remainder roam the virunga ranges shared by the three countries depending on the season and food supply. A group of 11 gorillas led by an alpha male called Nyakagezi, crossed from Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park into Rwanda about a year ago. Because they have not returned, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to suspend its gorilla tourism in the park. Uganda has sent a draft memorandum to Rwanda proposing to allow Ugandan tourists to cross the border to view the renegade group. Gorilla tourism earns Uganda its largest share of revenue, part of which is used to fund activities that have low visitor numbers and revenue. UWA is also trying to add golden monkeys as a unique attraction to complement gorilla tourism. The Nyakagezi group is on top of the agenda of the meetings for the wildlife authorities in both countries. The wildlife authorities meet every three months to discuss outstanding issues.
Fears for Leadbeater possums
March 27, 2006 www.theaustralian.news.com.au By Jane Bunce
Leadbeater's Possum, which lives in the mountain ash forests of Victoria's central highlands, was considered extinct until it was rediscovered in 1961 and a successful captive breeding program started. However, the death of the second-last Leadbeater's Possum in Healesville Sanctuary this week marks the end of that program, author Peter Preuss said. Initially, naturalist Des Hackett, had remarkable results breeding the possums in captivity. In the 1980s he was able to hand over breeding colonies to zoos throughout Australia, with the hope the offspring could one day be released in the wild. But because their natural range is almost exclusively within Victoria's timber harvesting areas, Leadbeater's Possums were never released. Instead, colonies were exported to zoos throughout the world." Mr Preuss, the author of a biography of Mr Hackett's work with the Leadbeater's Possum and Sugar Gliders, Bred To Be Wild, said Australia was ineffective in protecting its native wildlife. He said when Mr Hackett died in 1997 there were thriving colonies of Leadbeater's Possums in zoos throughout the world and an estimated 5000 Leadbeater's Possum in the wild. "Today, there are just 1000 left in the wild and only one lonely individual remains in captivity," he said.
Bird Flu Endangers Wild Birds
March 28, 2006 www.nytimes.com By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
The A(H5N1) influenza strain circulating the globe now may never seriously threaten humans, but for another subset of the earth's living creatures, it is already a disaster. By some estimates, more than 200 million domestic chickens, ducks and geese have already either died of the disease or been killed on the order of public health authorities to prevent its spread. All birds are thought to be susceptible, said P. Patrick Leahy, acting director of the United States Geological Survey, which tracks wild bird movements in the country. The survey's National Wildlife Health Center lists all the 87 species from which infected birds have been found in Asia, Africa and Europe. The species include sparrows, eagles and flamingoes. But in most cases, it has been a dead bird here and a dead bird there. While the virus can race through a chicken farm, killing tens of thousands of birds in a few days, there have been very few die-offs of large numbers of wild birds in any one spot. Nor have ornithologists who net live birds along international flyways and take samples from birds shot by hunters found many infections. And bird experts cannot yet point to any species they think is likely to become extinct. "As a conservationist, I'm not concerned about it wiping out whole populations," said Colin Poole, director of the Asia program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo and others. "I'd say the biggest threat is things like Russian politicians saying people should go to the borders and shoot migrating birds. There's plenty of that kind of nonsense going around."
H5N1 Could Devastate Many Species
March 28, 2006 allafrica.com By John Mbaria
NAIROBI, Kenya --Experts attending the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Brazil, say that 80 per cent of the known bird species as well as many rare and endangered mammal species are at risk from the H5N1 virus, which can actually infect 54 rare and endangered species such as leopards, tigers, civets, martens, weasels and badgers. They also warn that the pandemic could trigger negative ecological effects, including explosion of such pests as mice and rats following the loss of predators from some habitats. It could also cause other human and animal infections as well as damage the prospects for the survival of other wildlife. A more subtle threat springs from the fact that in developing countries, chicken is a key source of protein and the ongoing culling of poultry following outbreak of avian flu may lead to people turning to bushmeat as an alternative. The recommendations made include an increase in the surveillance and monitoring of wild birds and mammals in the affected countries and especially in Asia; training of wildlife staff and veterinarians in developing countries; vaccination of rare species at risk, and an increases in overseas development assistance to poor countries at risk to enable realistic compensation to owners of culled poultry.
Judge Rules In Favor of Santa Cruz Fox
March 29, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop the killing of thousands of wild pigs brought to Santa Cruz Island in the 1850s. The pig extermination is part of an effort to protect endangered island foxes and native plants. U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian found the claim that the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy rushed to eradicate the animals before developing an environmental plan to be without merit. The organizations, which co-own the island, say the pigs are causing erosion, uprooting native plants and helping spread invasive species. The 96-square-mile island, which lies off southern California in the Pacific, is part of the Channel Islands National Park. Since last April, hunters hired by the park service have killed about 4,800 feral pigs -- or 85 percent of the population, said Channel Islands National Park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard. The eradication program was expected to be completed in June 2007, she said.
Saint Louis Zoo Euthanizes Orangutan
March 29, 2006 www.belleville.com JEFF DOUGLAS, AP
ST. LOUIS - The Saint Louis Zoo has euthanized it's oldest primate, Junior, after his health declined. At 44, he was the third-oldest male in the national Orangutan Species Survival Plan population. Zoo Veterinarians had been treating Junior for severe arthritis for three years. In recent weeks, pain medication did not appear to be helping him and he was reluctant to move and eat.Wild-born in Sumatra, Junior came to the U.S. in 1963. He first lived at the Tulsa, Okla., and Memphis, Tenn., zoos. He came to St. Louis in 1992 as part of the national species survival plan and quickly became a favorite among zoo keepers for his gentle nature. Of all the male orangutans at the Saint Louis Zoo, Junior had the fewest offspring, a son and a daughter with his mate Merah.
Noah's Ark and Zoo
March 29, 2006 www.iol.co.za By Toby Sterling
Schagen, The Netherlands - Dutchman Johan Huibers is building a working replica of Noah's Ark 45km north of Amsterdam. The ark is roughly 150 cubits long by 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's nearly 70 metres long, 13,5m high, and 9,5m wide. As described in Genesis, Noah used "gopher wood" to build his ark. Johan's Ark is constructed with American cedar and Norwegian pine - on top of a seaworthy steel hull. While spectacular, it holds only about a fifth as many cubic cubits as Noah's would have, according to most biblical scholars. And Noah did it alone and without modern tools. According to Genesis, Noah kept seven pairs of most domesticated animals, and one breeding pair of all other creatures, plus his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law together on the same boat for almost a year while all the world was submerged by an enormous flood. Huibers' vision is more modest. He plans to stock his ark with a collection of farmyard animals such as horses, lambs, chickens and rabbits, plus an exhibition on more exotic creatures. He hopes to set sail in September - displaying the ark as a combination religious monument, museum, and petting zoo. Johan's Ark will house mostly baby animals, which Huibers believes Noah would also have done to save space. The total cost of the non-profit project is estimated at slightly under $1,2-million. Huibers plans to charge admission, $2,40 for children and $3,60 for adults, which will include a tour, a drink, and a religious pamphlet.
SF Zoo's Accreditation Renewed
March 29, 2006 sfgate.com/cgi-bin By Patricia Yollin
San Francisco Zoo officials learned Wednesday afternoon that they are fully accredited by AZA. Accreditation allows zoos to conduct captive breeding programs, do field conservation projects, receive federal funds, win grants and financial support from foundations, and exchange animals with other member zoos in the association. Although the 208-member AZA usually accredits zoos and aquariums every five years, the San Francisco Zoo's most recent accreditation was granted in 1998. The process was extended because the zoo changed management, with Manuel Mollinedo taking over in February 2004. Then, in June 2004, his relationship with the AZA degenerated, After the deaths of Asian elephant Calle and African elephant Maybelle in spring of that year, Mollinedo faced pressure from animal rights activists and the city's Board of Supervisors to place the zoo's two remaining elephants in a sanctuary, snubbing the 4 zoos recommended by AZA as new homes, Tinkerbelle and Lulu, were sent to a Calaveras County sanctuary and the zoo's 80-year-old elephant program ended in March 2005. Mollinedo was brought up on an ethics charge late last year for sending the elephants to a sanctuary and was suspended from all AZA functions for three months. In January 2005, three AZA inspectors conducted a three-day inspection, and AZA tabled the zoo's status for a year, giving it time to correct operational and maintenance issues detailed in its inspection report. It cited a range of issues, from rust in the Primate Discovery Center to clutter throughout the zoo to lack of participation in the AZA's species survival plan. In December, another inspection was done to ensure that problems had been corrected.
Island Nation Creates Third Largest Marine Park
March 29, 2006 www.enn.com By Reuters
CURITABA, Brazil - President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati announced the formation of the world's third-largest marine reserve at the 8th United Nations conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity under way this week in Brazil. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area bans commercial fishing to protect more than 120 species of coral and 520 species of fish inside its 184,700 sq km (73,800 sq miles). It is the world's first marine park with deep-sea habitat, including underwater mountains. Bigger reserves are located in Australia and Hawaii. Kiribati is located in the central Pacific between Hawaii and Fiji. It is the largest atoll nation in the world, with 33 islands stretching across several hundred miles. The New England Aquarium in the United States and Conservation International, a non-governmental organization, are helping the tiny country set up the reserve. The two organizations will help set up an endowment that pays for the park's management costs and compensates the government for revenue lost from granting fewer commercial fishing licenses. Subsistence fishing will be allowed in the park for local residents.
GPS Tracks Kashmir's Rare Red Deer
March 29, 2006 www.enn.com By Sheikh Mushtaq, Reuters
SRINAGAR, India - Wildlife authorities in India's part of Kashmir plan to use satellite-tracking technology to help save the endangered red deer from poachers who target the animal for its meat and antlers. Environment officials say there are only about 150 red deer left in the state's forested mountains, from more than 900 in 1989 because of poaching and neglect aggravated by a 16-year-old separatist revolt. The animals, known locally as the hangul, will be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to track them, an official said. "Since they move in herds we will attach collars to about 10 hanguls initially," said M.S. Bacha, the chief wildlife warden for Kashmir. The government will also set up a breeding centre and deer park in the hill resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg in a bid to reverse the animal's decline, which officials said, had been hastened by the conflict in the Himalayan region. "Besides GPS tracking, the government should a launch a comprehensive awareness campaign to save the hangul, which is the pride of Kashmir," said Abdul Qayoom Sheikh, a wildlife expert.
Henry Doorly Zoo Pursues Pandas
March 29, 2006 www.ketv.com/news
OMAHA, Neb. -- The director of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Dr. Lee Simmons will meet with Chinese officials again next week in Washington, D.C., in his quest to bring pandas to Omaha. The University of Nebraska-Omaha is now on board to play a role. UNO's Kiewet Institute is designing a high-tech system that may be installed in the panda's natural habitat in China to provide live audio and video to help researchers learn more about the pandas. "It'll be able to help really pin down how many pandas there are in an area, and what their activity pattern is," Simmons said. Simmons said the zoo has done a lot to woo China. "Sooner or later, the Chinese are going to say yes. We're about to take the next step: adopting one of the new baby pandas that was born this year," Simmons said. The baby panda will stay in China. Adoption means offering money to raise the baby, and suggesting a name. Once China gives the OK, the zoo will still have to apply for permit from the U.S. government, and that is a two-year process.
Indian Cattle Drug Is Killing Vultures
March 29, 2006 www.nytimes.com By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOMBAY, India (AP) -- Millions of long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-backed vultures have died in South Asia after eating cattle carcasses tainted with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory and painkiller given to sick cows. But India's government has refused to ban diclofenac until an alternative is found, because cattle are crucial to the country's rural economy. The British journal PLoS Biology reported in January that meloxicam, a drug similar to diclofenac, was effective in treating sick cattle and posed no significant danger to vultures. The alternative has been proving safe in tests and ''a ban should be announced within the next couple of months,'' Asad Rahmani, the director of the Bombay Natural History Society, said Wednesday. Tens of millions of vultures played a key role in South Asian ecosystems before the introduction of diclofenac in the early 1990s. Now, populations of the three species are thought to have dropped by as much as 97 percent, according to Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the IUCN has listed the 3 species as critically endangered.
Tibetan antelope listed as endangered
March 30, 2006 www.eurekalert.org
The USFWS has listed the Tibetan antelope, also known as "chiru," as an endangered species. Through a series of expeditions to China's Chang Tang Reserve over the past two decades, WCS had played a key role in sounding the alarm about the dramatic decline of this elegant animal due to poaching. The antelope's wool, is used for "shahtoosh" shawls (shahtoosh translates to "king of wool"), which are sold in the black market for up to $15,000 each. In the 1980s and 1990s, smuggled shawls made their way to European and U.S. markets, resulting in the slaughter of tens of thousands of antelope in recent years. The listing, published in today's Federal Register, takes effect April 28, 2006. Working with Chinese biologists, Dr. George Schaller was the first western scientists to document the biology of the chiru, which lives in the isolated Tibetan plateau in China. An upcoming National Geographic film will chronicle the plight of the chiru, and the extraordinary enforcement efforts undertaken by China to help eliminate poaching. The film premieres in New York and Washington next month.
Quebec Zoo to Close
March 30, 2006 www.theglobeandmail.com By RHÉAL SÉGUIN
QUEBEC - The Jardin zoologique du Québec was opened in 1931 as an experimental farm that raised and displayed fur-bearing animals, and reopened in 2003 after a major overhaul. It is home to hundreds of rare birds, dozens of exotic reptiles and at least 100 mammals such as Madagascar lemurs, leopards, kangaroos and rhinoceroses. But the provincial government said in November that it was no longer willing to cover the zoo's losses, projected at $5-million this year. It offered to turn the zoo over to the Quebec City government, but municipal leaders were unable to reach a funding agreement with surrounding jurisdictions and local businesses. Local residents accuse the federal Conservatives of reneging on an election campaign promise to come to the rescue. Zookeepers say they have not been told how long their services will be needed and there is no plan from the provincial government, which owns the money-losing park, on what to do with its nearly 800 animals. On Sunday, more than 3,000 residents gathered at the zoo to protest against the closing and rumours that the provincial government planned to sell part of the wildlife park to private developers. The protesters were angered by Ottawa's silence on a matter that the Conservatives had used as an election issue.
Red-ruffed Lemurs at Phoenix Zoo
Mar. 30, 2006 www.azcentral.com
A family of 6 red-ruffed lemurs - mother, father and 4 adult children has moved in at the Phoenix Zoo. Red-ruffed lemurs are critically endangered in the wild due to deforestation, hunting and trapping. They reside on an island opposite the flamingo exhibit.
Atlanta Zoo artificially inseminates panda
March 30, 2006 www.ajc.com By TOM SABULIS
For the third consecutive breeding season, Atlanta's eight-year-old pandas, they have failed to mate naturally. The pandas are kept apart most of the year similar to their wild counterparts. They are then put together in spring when Lun Lun ovulates. This year they had at least five opportunities to mate, and although Yang Yang mounted the female the pair did not stay together long enough to complete the act. Scientists Hou Rong, theriogenologist from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda breeding; Barbara Durant, reproductive physiologist at the San Diego Zoo; and Maria Crane, vice president of veterinary services at Zoo Atlanta, artificially inseminated Lun Lun with semen taken from Yang Yang. The procedure was done Wednesday night and again Thursday morning.
Alaska Runs Bird Flu Tests in Lakes
March 30, 2006 www.enn.com By Yereth Rosen, Reuters
ANCHORAGE - Alaska is North America's most likely point of entry for H5N1 and biologists there are planning to test water samples from lakes and ponds in the habitats of migratory birds to check for traces of the deadly avian flu virus. In addition, they will take swabs from nearly 15,000 wild birds spread over more than two dozen species. "If we have birds bringing this in from Asia sit down on a water body, other species of birds that don't interact directly with Asia may also use that water body and pick up a virus," Matt Robus, director at Alaska's Division of Wildlife Conservation, told reporters. Mallards and pintails in the water could become infected and then carry the virus south, officials said. Although avian-to-human transmission is rare, people can contract bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds. The World Health Organization says 105 people are known to have died so far from the H5N1 strain.
California Condors Nesting in Big Sur
March 30, 2006 www.enn.com By Associated Press
BIG SUR, Calif. - For the first time in more than 100 years, California condors were spotted nesting in the northern part of the state. The condor pair was found Monday displaying typical nesting behavior inside a hollowed-out redwood tree in Big Sur, a mountainous coastal region south of Monterey, the Ventana Wildlife Society said Tuesday. The male and female took turns guarding the nest every two or three days, never leaving the nest unattended for more than several minutes, the scientists said. "Although the view into the cavity is very limited and we can't actually see the egg, we strongly suspect they have an egg based on their behavior at the nest site," said Joe Burnett, a wildlife biologist. Ventana, a nonprofit group, began releasing condors into the wild in 1997 and now monitors a population of 38 condors in Central California.The last known condor egg in Northern California was collected in 1905 in Monterey County. The condor recovery effort has increased the number of birds tenfold over the past two decades. But about 40 percent of released condors have died from attacks by golden eagles and power lines, among other causes. Biologists said the mortality rate of condors in Big Sur is much lower.
Admission Fee For National Zoo?
March 30, 2006 www.washingtonpost.com By Jacqueline Trescott
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), is proposing that the Smithsonian Institution begin charging $1 per person admission fee because the museum complex is crumbling. Sheila Burke, the Smithsonian's deputy secretary and chief operating officer, said the idea had been considered and rejected three times by the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The last discussion was in 2002. "A fee might hit people we want to attract -- families," said Burke, "One reason for the previous rejections was the "excitement" visitors felt at the idea of free public museums." She also noted that four museums are legally forbidden from charging. The laws that created the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden prohibit admission fees. In addition, Charles Lang Freer's will, which provided for the creation of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art, stated there could never be a charge. Yesterday's hearing was the first time in four years that the appropriations subcommittee has met to hear arguments for increased money for repairs. In the proposed fiscal 2007 plan submitted by the president, the Smithsonian would receive $644.4 million, an increase of $30 million over the current year.
Taiwan Rejects China's Offer of Pandas
March 31, 2006 www.washingtonpost.com By STEPHAN GRAUWELS
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- On Friday, Taiwan rejected China's offer of the male panda Tuan Tuan and a female mate, Yuan Yuan. Their names come from the word "tuanyuan" which means "reunion." Beijing first offered the animals last May as part of an effort to woo Taiwanese support for uniting with the mainland, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949. Tuan Tuan's mother was "Hua Mei," the first U.S.-born panda to live longer than a few months. She was born in 1999 to a pair of pandas China lent to the San Diego zoo in California. She returned to China in 2004. Taiwan's Council of Agriculture said the island was unable to accept the pandas because they would not receive proper care on the island as required by animal protection laws and international agreements. The Taipei City Zoo and the Leofoo Village Theme Park in the northern city of Kuanhsi both applied to house the pandas. But Lee said they did not offer enough details on research an education plans for pandas.
Extermination of Point Reyes Fallow Deer
March 31, 2006 www.latimes.com By Julie Cart
The National Park Service says the estimated 1,100 fallow deer, native to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, and their exotic brethren the spotted axis deer, originally from India and Sri Lanka, are unwelcome pests that must be eradicated to protect Point Reyes' herd of native blacktail deer and tule elk. The imported deer are such prodigious breeders that they can double their population every three years, wildlife managers say. And biologists here report that they have discovered 4-month-old axis deer fawns pregnant. Officials also say the deer carry Johne's disease, an intestinal disorder potentially fatal to native deer and elk. Male fallow deer establish areas known as leks during mating season, using their hoofs and antlers to clear large areas of vegetation. When regrowth occurs, nonnative species often take the place of native plants, biologists say. More than a hundred leks have been counted in the Bear Valley region of the park. A park service draft plan calls for hiring sharpshooters to kill male and female deer and using an experimental contraceptive drug on some females. Officials say they expect to eliminate all the fallow and axis deer by 2020. Opponents are circulating petitions and picketing the park, and they have enlisted British primatologist Jane Goodall, for help.
Protecting Borneo Rainforests
March 31, 2006 www.enn.com By Diyan Jari and Reuben Carder, Reuters
JAKARTA - Borneo -- a territory shared among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei -- is home to about 2,000 types of trees, more than 350 species of birds, about 150 types of reptiles and 210 mammal species, including 44 only found on the island. Many animals such as pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, orangutans as well as the clouded leopard, the sun bear and the Bornean gibbon top the list of its endangered species. About three years ago, wildlife researchers photographed a mysterious fox-like mammal on the Indonesian part of Borneo island, believing it to be a new carnivore species. Since then, more new species of plants and animals have been found on the world's third-largest island. The new finds are remarkable after decades of deforestation by loggers, slash-and-burn farming, poaching and the creation of vast oil palm plantations. Gusti Sutedja, WWF Indonesia's project director for Kayan Mentarang national park, said "In 2003, we conducted joint operations with Malaysian scientists and discovered many unknown species of lower plants. Three frogs discovered are being tested by German researchers. We also recorded five new birds in a forest survey in 2003." Borneo's fate, along with other threatened areas on the planet, are the subject of a U.N. meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, that ends on Friday. Governments are discussing how to protect the world's biodiversity under a U.N. goal set in 2002 to slow the loss of species by 2010.
Cross-Border Parks Save Biodiversity
March 31, 2006 www.enn.com By Terence Wade, Reuters
CURITABA, Brazil - Huge nature reserves that stretch across national frontiers are being formed in Asia, South America and elsewhere. More than a dozen countries at the 8th U.N. conference on the Convention on Biodiversity in Brazil this week agreed to set up transnational parks or linked national parks. In Borneo, a biodiversity hot spot that holds 6 percent of the world's species of plants and animals and where 361 species were discovered in the last decade, the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia hope to stem deforestation by doubling a protected area to 84,950 square miles, an area nearly the size of Britain. In the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia, near the ancient Silk Road trade route, five nations with histories of political instability and ethnic conflict -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan -- have agreed to set aside 44 percent of their collective geography, or some 695,000 square miles, by linking national parks and creating new wildlife corridors to protect their deserts, high mountain meadows and tundra. Efforts in the Amazon are also under way to link South American national parks, state parks and Indian reservations. Biologists are working on a reserve for the border region of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, another linking Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil, a third linking Brazil with Venezuela and a fourth linking Brazil with Colombia. In the Pacific, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Territory of Guam are raising funds to set aside up to 30 percent of their marine territory and 20 percent of their lands to preserve fish stocks and terrestrial species.
Chaffee Zoo Accreditation Delayed
March 31, 2006 abclocal.go.com
Fresno's Chaffee Zoo will not receive AZA accrediation this year. Inspectors who visited the zoo last month cited concerns about the organization and management of the zoo, the zoo board and the turnover in zoo directors. Incoming zoo director, Lewis Greene, says the problems will be sorted out. New zoo board member Colin Dougherty also believes that problem will soon be solved. "It has nothing to do with the animals or the condition of the zoo, it's basically a position that, you know, the board has not been in place until now. We have a new zoo director coming in in 15 or 20 days, and I can certainly understand they would want to see that stability," said Dougherty.