Posts Tagged ‘Zoos’

Zoo animals’ twilight years pose new questions

June 23, 2008

We’ve highlighted people spending gobs on medical bills for their baby-boomer pets. Now the nation’s zoos are entering a “zone of unknowns” as animals live longer than anyone expected, the Associated Press reports.

While animals in captivity living longer than their wild brethren is nothing new, as that gap in life expectancy increases — partly due to better medical care — there have been some adjustments.

The Santa Ana Zoo, for instance, is home to Moka, a colobus monkey pushing 27 years old, making him the second-oldest in the United States:

For Moka, old age has meant only a few minor changes. His perch has been lowered so he doesn’t have to jump up to it. He gets regular X-rays to check for arthritis. And he tends to get access to warm areas during the winter.

But the aging population of America’s zoos is raising many other simple –- but potentially daunting –- questions.

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First Successful Reverse Vasectomy On Endangered Species Performed At The National Zoo

June 19, 2008

Veterinarians at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo performed the first successful reverse vasectomy on a Przewalski’s horse (E. ferus przewalskii; E. caballus przewalskii—classification debated), pronounced zshah-VAL-skeez. Przewalksi’s horses are a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970.

Currently, there are approximately 1500 of these animals maintained at zoological institutions throughout the world and in several small reintroduced populations in Asia. This is the first procedure of its kind to be performed on an endangered equid species.

The genes of Minnesota—the horse who underwent the surgery—are extremely valuable to the captive population of the species, which scientists manage through carefully planned pairings to ensure the most genetically diverse population possible. The horse was vasectomized in 1999 at a previous institution so that he could be kept with female horses without reproducing. He came to the National Zoo in 2006.

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Monkey Uses Garden Hose to Scale Moat, Bolt from Zoo

June 17, 2008

A spider monkey used a garden hose to scale the wall of a moat at a Michigan City zoo before being captured at a nearby boat dealership.

One of two spider monkeys recently added to the Washington Park Zoo broke out of its enclosure this week while workers were cleaning the moat, which had been emptied of water.

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Pair are beary good friends

June 17, 2008

This Asian black bear and pretty puss are still FURRY friends seven years after they became chums.

The odd friendship began in 2001 after Muschi the cat didn’t even paws for thought before trotting into Mausi the bear’s enclosure.

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Animals become prey at Egypt’s Giza Zoo

June 9, 2008

In most zoos, employees feed and care for the animals. At Egypt’s Giza Zoo, police say, workers have been turning them into dinner or selling them as pets.

When two Moroccan camels were butchered in August, the perpetrators left behind only the hide and hooves. A police investigation found that a zookeeper had slaughtered the animals and sold the meat to supplement his monthly wage.

More than 400 animals, including foxes, zebras, a black panther and a giraffe, have vanished from the government-run menagerie in the last three years, according to police documents. Zoo conditions have grabbed headlines in a country where people criticize President Hosni Mubarak for everything from crumbling schools and hospitals to the low wages and rising food prices that have sparked violent protests.

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Animals fare better in zoos as experts learn more

May 30, 2008

Scientists are learning more about how zoo animals feel and how a toy or a little training can sometimes help cut the endless pacing and other repetitive behaviours that are often assumed to be signs of distress.

Some big cats want a high perch from which to view visitors, polar bears want to scratch for hidden caches of food, and male barn swallows could use a tail extension to appeal to potential mates, according to experts from zoos and universities meeting on Friday at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.

Visitors who see a cheetah pacing or a polar bear swimming in circles might assume they are stressed by confinement. But they may simply be expending excess energy or soothing themselves, experts said interviews at the symposium.

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Baby gorilla good news for Calgary zoo

May 23, 2008

Zuri the gorilla delivered some much-needed good publicity for the Calgary Zoo yesterday: a new baby.

After a week during which the zoo has made headlines across the country over the mysterious deaths of 40 rays, Zuri’s little bundle of joy was welcome news.

The birth was especially good news for Zuri, a Western Lowland gorilla who suffered the loss of a previous baby in August 2006. That infant gorilla lived only 12 days because Zuri’s half-sister took the baby from her, but had no milk to nurse it.

Back then, Zuri was the lowest-ranking gorilla in the troop and lacked the confidence to grab her child back.

Now, it’s an entirely different story.

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Relocation Of Endangered Chinese Turtle May Save Species

May 21, 2008

There are only four specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth–one in the wild and three in captivity. In order to save this species from extinction, conservation partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), working in conjunction with partners from two Chinese zoos and the China Zoo Society, recently paired two of them. A still reproductive, more than 80-year-old, female, living in China’s Changsha Zoo has been introduced to the only known male in China, a more than 100-year-old living more than 600 miles away at the Suzhou Zoo.

On Monday, May 5, turtle biologists, veterinarians, and zoo staff from partner organizations convened at the Changsha Zoo to collect and transport the female to the Suzhou Zoo where she joined her new mate to potentially save their entire species. The move was coordinated to coincide with the female’s reproductive cycle.

“This is a story of hope for a species truly on the brink,” said Colin Poole, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Programs. “We are extremely grateful to our conservation partners both in China and here in the U.S. who made this historic move possible. Now that the turtles are together, we are optimistic that they will successfully breed.”

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Are zoos an anachronism from a time before the internet and Animal Planet?

May 21, 2008

Animal deaths or injuries at zoos often result in renewed debate about whether wild animals should be kept in captivity. Recently, the deaths of over 40 cownose stingrays at the Calgary Zoo and the death of a visitor at the San Francisco Zoo stirred up more questions on whether animals should be kept for public viewing.

While the institutions often tout their educational programs as one of the many reasons for people, and especially children, to visit, saying they can learn a great deal about animals from zoos, Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck Canada, a national wild animal protection charity, disputes this argument.

“The menagerie-style zoo, like Toronto and Calgary, emerged in the 19th century in Paris and London and Berlin. This concept emerged at a time when there was no international travel, there was no internet, there was limited access to books for most people, there was no television, there was no Discovery Channel.

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With animals living longer and advances in medicine, Fresno zoo handles special needs

May 21, 2008

It’s survival of the less-than-fittest at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Sheep and goats are on Celebrex. One sea lion is blind and another is half-paralyzed. A hedgehog-like critter is so old it must eat mushy food.

At nearly 20, “it’s like a 170-year-old person,” said zoo veterinarian Lewis Wright.

Advances in medicine mean animals are living longer in Fresno – and in zoos nationwide – even if they have maladies that could make them dinner in the wild.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon, where zoos have gotten so good at what they do that we are surpassing median life expectancy,” said Andy Snider, the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.

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Jenny, the world’s oldest gorilla, celebrates her 55th birthday

May 12, 2008

The world’s oldest gorilla celebrated her 55th birthday today with a four-layer frozen fruit cake and banana leaf-wrapped treats.

Jenny’s caretakers at the Dallas Zoo say she’s having a few joint issues and her eyesight isn’t what it used to be but she still looks good for an old ape.

“It’s a special milestone for us,” said Todd Bowsher, curator of the zoo’s Wilds of Africa exhibit. “It signifies that we’ve made great strides in veterinary care, nutrition and animal husbandry.”

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Zoo director has special bond with animals

May 9, 2008

I am often asked, “What type of relationship does the staff have with their animals?”

For most professionals, being with the animals is what drew them to the zoological industry in the first place. So much so that in many cases, given a choice, they would almost always choose animal companionship over humans. The best way to illustrate this is by telling you a little about the daily routine at the zoo.

Every morning, we start the day with a staff meeting that covers the daily goals, issues and even the weather forecast. This is usually accompanied with vast amounts of caffeine and people who are still waking up. But once the staff gets out to their exhibits, a transition occurs. Inevitably when they first see the animals and the animals see them, it’s pure magic.

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Animals as artists … seriously

May 8, 2008

Brittany wields her paintbrush with confidence, slapping it roughly against the canvas to produce streaks of green or smears of orange. With apparent pride, she steps back, inspects her work — and extends her trunk to receive a freshly loaded paintbrush.

Brittany, an African elephant, is doing her small part to pay her way at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Her artwork is sold at the zoo’s gift shop to raise funds.

This painting pachyderm is far from the only artistic animal in captivity. For years zoos and aquariums across the country have encouraged animals to paint as a way to keep the penned-up denizens mentally enriched. Typically, the paintings were discarded or set aside.

But officials have recently discovered that animal lovers are willing pay hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars for the creatures’ creations, prompting zoos across the country to study whether their animal artists might be an untapped source of revenue.

The Milwaukee zoo’s gift shop sells about 36 of Brittany’s paintings each year for $30 each.

“She really seems to enjoy painting — she likes creating new things,” elephant trainer Danielle Faucett said.

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The baby monkey that thinks its mommy is a teddy bear

May 7, 2008

This little monkey is missing her mummy so to make sure she’s not losing out zoo keepers have given her a teddy bear to cuddle.

Conchita is a three-week-old white-naped mangabey monkey who is being hand-reared at London Zoo.

The tiny primate keeps hold of her teddy bear companion while her mother recovers from a caesarean.

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Baby Animal Photos!

May 4, 2008

Two of three baby sand kittens are seen in their display area at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The kittens were born two months earlier. Sand cats, the smallest of all wild cats, are rare and considered a threatened species in the wild. They are found in three areas of the world; the Sahara Desert, the Arabian Peninsula and central Asia. The sand cats at Lincoln Park are native to the Arabian Peninsula and have been at the zoo since October 2004. Sand cats live in desert habitats that have an extremely wide range of temperatures.

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Are Exotic Pets A Dangerous Problem In The Miami Valley?

May 3, 2008

A giant alligator sits motionless by a pool of calm water, a cougar licks his paws under the sun of a warm April day, and two grown tigers pace inside a fenced-in enclosure.

All four animals share a common history.They were all owned as pets by different Miami Valley residents and have been rescued by Preble County’s Heaven’s Corner Zoo.Throughout the years, workers at Heaven’s Corner, in West Alexandria, have taken in exotic pets that have either become too big or have gotten loose from their residential owners.

“If you have the experience and the compound to take care of an animal like that, I see no problem with it,” said zoo volunteer Scott Trochelman. “But to have one in an apartment in Dayton? No. These animals are killers in the wild and in captivity.

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First baby camel born at Helsinki Zoo in 37 years

April 30, 2008

Seeing the baby camel at the Helsinki Zoo is a bewildering experience. Its eyes are beautiful, as if designed by Disney, but other than that it is all legs. The four-day-old camel foal is hairy, long-limbed, and clumsy.
When it squeaks, its mother, Selma, rises on her legs and walks over to the youngster. Staggering and occasionally falling, the foal seeks its way to its mother’s teats.

The father, 13-year-old Voodoo, looks at his family from behind a fence. “When the baby was born, the father stamped its feet. It was nervous”, explains the Helsinki Zoo veterinarian Eeva Rudbäck.
The family will be reunited in a couple of weeks’ time. The young has to learn to be quick to be able to flee in case its father loses his temper.

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Saint John police on the case of the missing monkey

April 25, 2008

Saint John police are continuing to search for a little monkey that was stolen from a local zoo on Tuesday night.

Staff at the Cherry Brook Zoo found a padlock hacksawed and a door kicked in when they arrived at work on Wednesday morning.

A family of Callimico goeldii monkeys were found running free in a hallway, screeching, but one of the small South American marmosets was missing, said Lynda Collrin, spokeswoman with the zoo.

It’s an unusual investigation, said Sgt. Pat Bonner.

“We don’t know who’s really responsible and we’d like to know who they are and what they are and what they want the monkey for,” said Bonner. “What the motive would be in taking a monkey is beyond me.”

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Zoo Focuses Efforts on Poison Dart Frog Breeding Program

April 24, 2008

Enter an aquarium and an underwater zoo comes alive with fish of all shapes and sizes. But if you want more than just a fish-tank view, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is home to over 16,000 different varieties of animals, for a rare visitor experience.

“In one day you can really travel around the world and see a frog that’s only found in one little remote part,” the aquarium’s General Curator, Jack Cover, tells DBIS.

One of the most toxic animals in the world — the poison dart frog — lives here. Its bright colors warn predators to keep away, but herpetologists learned they aren’t very dangerous living inside the aquarium. In fact, Cover says dart frogs born and raised in captivity are completely non-toxic.

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Many Captive Tigers Are Of Purebred Ancestry; Finding Raises Their Conservation Value

April 22, 2008

Tigers held in captivity around the world–including those in zoos, circuses, and private homes–may hold considerable conservation value for the rapidly dwindling wild populations around the world, according to a new report published online on April 17th in Current Biology. Using a new method for assessing the genetic ancestry of tigers, researchers discovered that many apparently “generic” tigers actually represent purebred subspecies and harbor genomic diversity no longer found in nature.

” Assessment of ‘verified subspecies ancestry’ (VSA) offers a powerful tool that, if applied to tigers of uncertain background, may considerably increase the number of purebred tigers suitable for conservation management,” said Shu-Jin Luo, of the National Cancer Institute, Frederick. “This approach would be of particular importance to tiger subspecies that have suffered severe population decline in the wild and/or lack of efficient captive breeding.”

For instance, he said, the Indochinese tiger has been classified as a different subspecies from the Malayan tiger, leaving just 14 recognized Indochinese individuals in captivity. “Thus,” Luo added, “verification of VSA Indochinese tigers, establishment of captive breeding programs, and preservation of remaining Indochinese tiger populations in the wild should be set as one of the top priorities in the global tiger conservation strategy.”

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