International Zoo News Vol. 46/1 (No. 290) January/February 1999



The Management and Husbandry of Geoffroy‘s Marmoset

Val Wakenshaw

The Effect of Sambucol on Flu-like Symptoms in Chimpanzees: Prophylactic and Symptom-dependent Treatment

Beverly Burge, Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Tal Simmons

A Review of Zoo Education in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Stephen P. Woollard

Breeding the White-faced Scops Owl

Ian Marshall

Endangered Flying Foxes could be Saved by Captive Breeding

Maarten de Ruiter



Annual Report

International Zoo News

Recent Articles

Cover Illustration: Geoffroy's marmoset grooming (from an original painting by Val Wakenshaw).


A photograph of two tiger cubs caught my eye a few weeks ago in the Times newspaper. The accompanying story was an account of how the cubs' father had been present during their birth at Glasgow Zoo. The incident will not come as any surprise to most zoo people; as the article went on to point out, in recent years both experience in zoos and observations in the wild have shown that tigers can be much more responsible, caring fathers than used to be assumed. It remains true, however, that sightings of wild male tigers in company with their cubs are relatively uncommon. It looks rather as though zoos actually offer a better environment than the wild for male tigers to exercise their paternal instincts to the full.

This thought seems so heretical that I am almost afraid to express it openly; the orthodox belief, after all, is that zoos are a necessary evil – `In a perfect world, there'd be no need for them.' But I have never been entirely happy with that point of view. In my youth I read a number of stories, by H.G. Wells in particular, in which perfect worlds were imaginatively described, and a feature common to many of them was the presence of big cats – not in zoos, admittedly, but associating in a free and friendly manner with human beings. This seemed to me then, and still seems, to be an essential ingredient of any world I'd be willing to describe as perfect. (A subconscious memory of those Wellsian Utopias may have affected my response when I first visited Howletts nearly 30 years ago.)

We all, of course, pay lip-service to the view that reintroduction to the wild is our ultimate ambition for all captive-bred animals. It could be argued how far this is a realistic belief; but even assuming it is, this does not mean that zoos should necessarily reduce to an absolute minimum the impact that captivity has upon their animals. It may be better to accept that a degree of domestication – or perhaps `acculturation' comes nearer to the meaning I'm after – can actually benefit animals in some ways. Great apes talking in sign language, elephants and rhinos painting pictures, tigers forming stable family groups, animals of any species living in a happy and harmonious relationship with their human carers, are arguably fulfilling their potential to an extent they could never do in the wild – just as the potential for a Leonardo, a Shakespeare, a Mozart lay dormant in our Palaeolithic ancestors until mankind developed a cultural environment in which that potential could be realised.

The danger in this, of course, is that zoo animals might become too `civilized' to be capable of returning successfully to the wild. But the whole history of domestication seems to me to allay that fear. After several millennia of human management, chickens still act very much like jungle fowl, domestic ducks like wild mallards, domestic geese like wild greylags. Feral dogs, cats, horses, pigs and goats are behaviourally close to their wild ancestors, and – after a few generations of unselected breeding – physically close to them too. Allowing zoo animals to enjoy the benefits of captivity need not preclude their successful return to the wild should the opportunity ever arise.

Nicholas Gould




Geoffroy's marmoset (Callithrix geoffroyi) originally occurred throughout the Atlantic forest area of southern Bahia, Espirito Santo and adjacent parts of Minas Gerais in south-eastern Brazil. Through habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade, it is now restricted to small forest fragments and has been pushed into the `endangered' status.

A general husbandry survey was devised and distributed to 15 collections exhibiting the species, of which seven (46%) responded. These were Banham Zoo, Belfast Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust and Shaldon Wildlife Trust, U.K.; Emmen Zoo, the Netherlands; and Zoo de La Palmyre, France.) The survey was designed to be relatively quick and easy to complete, with questions covering the following subjects: group structure, social interaction, breeding, development and care of young, nutrition, feeding, environmental enrichment, housing and behavioural enrichment. Geoffroy's marmosets are relatively uncommon in captivity, and it is hoped that the data collected will continue to encourage and improve the management and welfare of the species.

Social structure

C. geoffroyi are diurnal primates and depend primarily on vision, smell, sound and display for social recognition. Social groups in the wild vary in size from three or four up to 20 individuals. While marmosets typically form groups which contain a number of adults of each sex, breeding is usually restricted to the dominant pair. Infant care and carrying is predominantly by the male, but all group members will participate. This releases the female from the energetic demands of pregnancy, lactation and infant carrying, which she would otherwise be constantly forced to endure. The infants are weaned and independent at about 5–6 months, reaching sexual maturity at about 15–18 months.

In captivity, offspring should remain with their parents for at least this length of time to ensure that they have gained experience in infant care and other normal behaviour. Inexperienced youngsters who have not had the opportunity to care for younger siblings sometimes destroy their first – and possibly successive – litters. However, a family group should not extend to more than about 12 individuals, as above this number stress-related illness may break out or some group members may be evicted.

The dominant pair are recognised and respected by all the group. Dominance is enforced by scent-marking, scolding, cuffing or eye command, never biting. This mild form of discipline seems to work well

and the offspring never seem cowed. The dominant behaviour of the breeding female, accentuated apparently by pheromones produced in her scent glands, inhibits ovulation in subordinate females, who are thus normally unable to breed as long as they remain in the group. But there is less of a hierarchy among the males. In fact, while only one of the males normally mates with the breeding female, more promiscuous behaviour has sometimes been observed, and marmosets appear to be among the few mammals which may under certain circumstances mate polyandrously (Ferrari, 1989).

There is always a certain amount of upheaval when a dominant animal dies, and incest can occur when the normal group structure breaks down (pers. comm., D. Wormell). At Jersey, after the death of the breeding male, a new male was introduced but was attacked by the original male's sons (see Table 1). In the light of this episode, it may be advisable to set up a new alpha pair in a different enclosure from the previous male's sons.

No reason was given for the aggression between the breeding female and her daughter at La Palmyre Zoo.


Mutual grooming is an important behaviour in the social lives of C. geoffroyi. Not only does it serve a hygienic function in keeping the skin and pelage in good condition, but it may also help to strengthen affiliative bonds within the group. At Shaldon, grooming most often occurred with either the male being groomed by an offspring, or the female being groomed by the male. Mutual grooming sessions appeared to increase when the animals were re-housed to an outside enclosure, although it may have taken place unobserved in the privacy of the nest box when they were housed indoors.

When a `groomee' solicits grooming, he will lie down flat facing the groomer in an inviting position. As he is being groomed he relaxes completely, with an air of total contentment, only moving to present a different part of his body for inspection. The groomer slowly searches through the fur, separating the hairs with the fingers and claws, watching intently for any foreign bodies, which are picked up with the lips and/or teeth. Groomer-initiated bouts appear to be concentrated on accessible sites, while groomee-initiated bouts generally involve less accessible sites, e.g. head, neck, and back.


The following vocalisations were noted in juveniles:

`Phee' – a high-pitched distress call. Response to being forcibly dismounted by an adult carrier. A fundamental vocalisation that develops into the adult contact call.

`Tsik, tsik, tsik' – a sharp, loud distress call. Response to extremely rough treatment by mount. It develops into the adult alarm call.

`Nga' – distress squeal. A contact call which stimulates adults to nursing response.

`Twitter' – a rapid sequence of short, high-pitched notes. A contact call. The number of notes in the twitter varies according to age, infants giving 2–12 notes, adults 2–20 notes. (Epple, 1968).

Adult calls are very similar to the juvenile ones, but more stereotyped and specific in function.

Courtship behaviour

C. geoffroyi establish contact by sniffing each other's muzzles and genitalia. This activity, combined with marking objects, licking, grooming and huddling, is a regular part of pre- and post-copulatory courtship. As the female nears oestrus, both partners will increase associated behaviour. There may be some tension and aggression before both reach their sexual peak. Female oestrus cycles vary from 14 to 21 days. The post-partum oestrus takes place at from two to 14 days after giving birth, at which time conception can take place. Post-partum copulation reinforces the pair bond at a time when the dominant male is essential for the care of the young. The gestation period is usually 140–149 days, with an interval between births of 150–152 days.

Of the zoos surveyed, four (57%) observed courtship behaviour.

Birth and the newborn

Most births take place at night or in the early hours of the morning. Normally twins are born, but singletons and triplets also occur. Triplets can present problems, as the female only has two nipples. In captivity, hand-rearing would be a possibility, but the constant care and carrying required by the infants would make it unlikely that more than one or two young of a litter of three would survive in the wild.

Labour may take up to an hour and infants are born at 2–3 minute intervals. The male is present at the birth and may assist by licking the film of mucus from each baby, before handing them back to the mother for suckling. Other members of the group may watch or assist by helping to eat the placenta. Newborn infants instinctively grasp the mother's fur and find a nipple unaided. She will suckle the infants at the same time. After their feed, the male takes each infant and places them on his back. He alone will carry the infants for the first week. After this, all members of the family group try to take turns in carrying.

In captivity, to allow the female time to recover for the first week after the birth, the group should be disturbed as little as possible, with the exception of a quiet, familiar keeper to ensure that she is receiving adequate nutrition and that all is well.

Table 2. Analysis of breeding results from taxon reports.

Banham Zoo: 57% overall survival rate between 1988 and 1994.

Belfast Zoo: 65% overall survival rate between 1991 and 1996.

Colchester Zoo: failed to supply sufficient data.

Emmen Zoo: has one young pair which have not yet reproduced.

La Palmyre Zoo: 81% overall survival rate between 1991 and 1995.

Shaldon Wildlife Trust: 100% overall survival rate between 1995 and 1996.

Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust: 38% overall survival rate between 1984 and 1991, increasing to 42% between 1991 and 1996.


In the wild, C. geoffroyi eat a wide range of foodstuffs, including small birds and mammals (e.g. nestlings), eggs, lizards, frogs and crustaceans, plus fruit, flowers and tree-buds, insects, and essential amounts of resin.

In captivity a varied and balanced diet should be provided. Food may be presented more than once a day, ensuring that all the essential food groups, minerals and vitamins are given in the first feed of the day when the animals are hungry. Later feeds can supply favourite foods and extras. These can be foraged for to prevent boredom or used in feeding enrichment activities.

The first feed of the day could contain a nutritionally balanced pellet. Although these are not popular with all animals, palatability can be improved by soaking in a fruit drink. This may be preferred by infants.

Marmoset jelly is another product designed to provide the majority of the daily nutrient requirements, and can be mixed with pieces of fruit to enhance flavour. This would be beneficial for pregnant and nursing mothers and infants, or animals in poor health, although care is needed not to give too much. Rovimix D3 powder may be given with combinations of Milupa baby cereal or baby milk to provide a sweet nectar breakfast.

Table 3. Basic diet at Shaldon Wildlife Trust.

Milupa baby food (fruit flavours). This is mixed to a creamy consistency with warm water, to give a warming start to the day when the weather is cold.

Fresh fruit (apple, banana, orange, pear, grape, dried and seasonal soft fruits).

Carrot, tomato and granary bread.

Ingredients are cut up small and sprinkled with SA37 multi-vitamins.

Fresh water is available at all times.

Live food is provided two or three times a week – crickets, stick insects and, occasionally, mealworms.

Additional foods which may be given are beef heart, cooked chicken, tamarin cake, cream cheese, tinned cat or dog food, hard-boiled egg, day-old chick legs, peeled prawns, porridge oats, condensed milk, honey, yoghurt, seeds, peanuts and sweetmeal biscuits.

A very important addition to the diet is gum Arabic, which is given to the animals daily. Hot water is poured over the gum crystals to form a thick consistency. (Gum Arabic is collected from the acacia trees of North Africa; the tree is burnt or singed and the resin crystals are gathered from the bark.) Gum crystals can be purchased through suppliers of confectioners and pharmacists, who use it as a gelling agent.

The favourite foods of the Shaldon marmosets are gum, insects, and banana.

Marmosets especially need vitamin D3 in their diet. It is essential for metabolism of calcium and phosphorus for bone formation. In nature, animals obtain Vitamin D3 by conversion of pro-vitamins in the skin, through exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. In captivity, requirements vary with season, sunlight and temperature. Therefore a supplement has to be added to the diet. A concentrated vitamin D3 powder can be obtained from Roche Products Ltd. Other products that can be given to increase the animals' vitamin intake are Cytacon B12, Abidec and SA37 (see products list, below).

Wild marmosets may spend up to 70% of their time foraging and processing food. In captivity the animals are provided with a nutritionally balanced diet, but a meal may be consumed in a matter of minutes, leaving long stretches of time before the next feed. More naturalistic feeding can be encouraged by feeding-enrichment activities. This is particularly important for animals which are to be released into a wild environment where a knowledge of how to forage is essential. Foraging behaviour can be encouraged by feeding many items whole or by hiding or scattering food around the enclosure, e.g. on platforms, wire roof or branches. However, care must be taken not to let the food become contaminated by bird droppings. Live food such as locusts, crickets, stick insects and mealworms can be scattered in the substrate. Retrieving this food requires hand-eye coordination and concentration and is very intensive. Hand-made insect dispensers can be inexpensive to make and effective in use, and also create an element of unpredictability. Marmosets' small size, quick movements, sharp claws and long lower incisors are well suited for effective capture of insects. Wild callitrichids spend 16–39% of their time foraging for, and feeding on, insects. (Terborgh, 1983; Garber, 1984).

Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust suggests, however, that the phosphorus content of insects needs to be balanced with a calcium intake in order to maintain the ideal Ca:P ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1, as an imbalance in this ratio can retard skeletal development, impair locomotion and decrease reproductive output, and is therefore especially problematic during lactation (Price, 1992; Garber, 1984). One way of increasing the marmosets' calcium intake is to provide plant gums, which are high in calcium and form an important part of the diet of wild marmosets. Gum feeding takes up as much as 34% of their time in the wild (Coimbra-Filho and Mittermeier, 1976). In addition, gums are rich in carbohydrates and may therefore be an important source of energy for marmosets, especially during lactation.

C. geoffroyi are very proficient gum feeders. They gouge small wells with their lower incisors, by using the upper incisors as an anchor in the bark, and lap the exudents which ooze from the holes. Naturalistic gum-feeding behaviour can be simulated by providing an artificial gum tree, by smearing branches with gum, or simply by providing a small bowl of gum.

Six (86%) of the zoos surveyed used some form of feeding enrichment. Four used insects in those activities, three mentioned insects as a preferred food, but only two provided gum. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

Medical problems

Belfast – Original breeding female lost weight and condition and eventually died. Nutritional? (Pers. comm., M.G. Challis, Assistant Manager.)

Colchester – Male had a brief period of appearing `under the weather'. Symptoms included loss of appetite and condition. He was wormed as a precaution with 0.05 ml Ivomec, and also given 0.05 ml Laurabolin steroid. He responded well to this treatment. In addition, the female had a Caesarian birth for her first litter of twins. Neither survived, but she made a full recovery and has bred since. (Pers. comm., Dr J. Lewis, International Zoo Veterinary Group.)

Emmen – Problems were experienced in the adoption of a new diet, mainly with animals who came from M. Schwarz, Brazil. The condition mostly proved fatal in the end, in combination with pneumonia and neuritis worm infection. (Pers. comm., H. Hiddingh, Director.)

Jersey – In the past they had bone problems, diarrhoea and pseudo-tuberculosis. These seem to have been related to calcium deficiency. Health improved once gum Arabic was provided. (Pers. comm., D. Wormell, Section Head, Marmosets and Bats.)

La Palmyre – Haemolytic anaemia, possibly related to Vitamin E deficiency and resulting in a wasting disease. (Pers. comm., Dr. T. Petit, Veterinarian.)

Of the medical problems recorded, those related to nutrition were the most common, with incidences of bone problems, wasting disease and anaemia. Vitamin D deficiency and also an incorrect calcium/phosphate ratio can result in rickets and osteomalacia. As already stated, Jersey found that health and also breeding success improved once gum Arabic was provided, in conjunction with the correct ratio of phosphates. At Shaldon, also, gum is provided for the animals, and no health problems have occurred. Other medical problems were pseudo-tuberculosis and pneumonia, which may be caused by bacteria or viruses, and can be passed on to the animals by humans; early veterinary treatment is essential.

Worm infestation may be more easily remedied as long as there are no complications. Medication can usually be given via food to reduce the stress of handling.

Environmental enrichment

A wild marmoset has to avoid predation, interact appropriately with conspecifics, forage and find refuge in an ever-changing environment. Environmental enrichment is an attempt to bring some of this diversity into the enclosure of the captive animals, thus preserving not only genes but also behaviour – an important consideration if the animals are ever to be returned to a wild environment. Enrichment can be applied to all aspects of the zoo environment, and can be achieved through manipulation of group size and structure, feeding behaviour, enclosure design and furnishings, and also through interaction of the captive animal with the keeper and the visiting public.

C. geoffroyi are very active animals and may spend many hours chasing, leaping and foraging. Thus, despite their small size, they need and use a relatively large area. Of course a zoo cannot replicate the amount of space a family of marmosets would occupy in the wild, but physically it should provide enough space per animal to allow them to perform any

natural behaviour. Psychologically more important is how that space is filled, and the well-being of the animals within.

Sifting through floor litter for insects and other tasty treats is a natural behaviour of wild marmosets, as is play-wrestling on the ground. In captivity space is limited and floor space has great potential for use. Therefore efforts should be made to provide a stimulating, naturalistic ground covering, at least in the outside enclosure. Chamove et al. (1982) experimented with the use of deep woodchip litter in the enclosures of different primate species, including marmosets. Results showed that the addition of this type of substrate significantly altered floor use. Time spent foraging for food increased, play behaviour increased and agonistic behaviour decreased. Studies have also shown that deep litter such as bark strippings, chippings and bark mulch absorb more moisture, give off less odour, and have an inhibitory effect on bacteria, and so may be left down for a greater length of time with fewer risks of health problems. However, of course, droppings and excess food should be removed daily.

Of the seven zoos surveyed, one provided deep bark chippings, two provided bark chippings with peat or grass, two provided sand, one provided grass and one provided sand and grass, in the outside enclosures. (See Table 5.)

C. geoffroyi are tropical zone arboreal animals. Their habitat ranges from lowland rainforest bordering the coast and river banks, semi-deciduous forest, dry scrub or caatinga, to areas of forest savanna. They prefer to stay in the dense, impenetrable cover of secondary growths, where there is an abundance of food and protection from larger predators. Although captive animals are safe from predation, it is important to provide a natural refuge in which they can feel safe, forage and play. All the zoos surveyed provided natural plantings, ranging from young to mature trees, small to large shrubs, evergreens and conifers, to bamboo, pampas grass and climbing plants. The animals' preferred interaction was with bushy shrubs and tall trees. Although tree bark is chewed, there have been no reported problems with plantings, and all have been successful.

It is important to equip the enclosure with an adequate framework of perching, as marmosets prefer to move on horizontal branches. However, they are also vertical clingers and leapers, and a redundant wall may be utilised by attaching netting of very small mesh size; this could be detachable for ease of wall cleaning. The same principle can be applied to smooth ceilings – wire mesh roofs may provide a large area of space on which to climb and hang, and it is far easier to put things in the space by attaching them to the roof. At Belfast Zoo the roof of the outdoor enclosure is made of three-quarter inch (19 mm) nylon netting supported on nylon ropes. This is the first time this type of construction has been tried for marmosets, and provides a much lighter and less visually disruptive roofing system (pers. comm., M.G. Challis). Branchwork should be changed when possible, or scent-marked perches moved between different species, providing added stimulus. However, when moving marmosets to a new enclosure it may be beneficial to take one or two of their familiar scent-marked perches with them to help settle the animals (Moore, 1989).

At Shaldon I found that fresh foliage was much appreciated by the marmosets, especially the youngsters, who enjoyed chasing and leaping long distances amongst the greenery which moved and swayed on landing, and the thin twigs were ideal for infants to explore and chew. Foliage provides diversity for the animals, and it is especially important if there are no natural plantings in the enclosure. It may also encourage the visitor to look for these small primates.

All the zoos surveyed had aviary-type outdoor enclosures, with access to heated indoor areas kept at temperatures ranging from 18° C to 21° C, with warmer spots of up to 25° C (Table 4). No problems were mentioned regarding climatic conditions. As a precautionary measure animals at both Colchester and Emmen are restricted to indoor areas when the weather is extremely cold. A relative humidity of 50–60% is optimal. Low humidity is bad for infants. Moist peat as a substrate helps to maintain a high humidity. (Captive Care Working Party, 1987.)

In the wild environment different species of animal may share the same territory, and although each is adapted to its own particular niche within that area, mutual benefits may be gained. In captivity, providing conditions are suitable and the appropriate species are selected, it should be possible to establish a mixed exhibit. This has been very successful for some species of marmosets and tamarins, although C. geoffroyi appear to be less tolerant of other animals than some callitrichid species. `We [Jersey Zoo] have found Geoffroy's to be unnaturally intolerant of other species. We often house single animals of different species together for company, but Geoffroy's have not agreed to this.' (Pers. comm., D. Wormell.) `It should be noted that our group [Colchester Zoo] of Geoffroy's attacked and fatally wounded one lesser Malayan chevrotain (Tragulus javanicus). They had been living with the animal for approximately three weeks with no problems, and appear to have turned on her for no apparent reason. But they have shared their exhibit with the spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca, for about eighteen months with no sign of aggression.' (Pers. comm., J. Lewis.) Colchester is the only zoo in the survey where C. geoffroyi share an exhibit with another species of animal.

All the animals in the survey were exposed to moderate to high visitor numbers. Two of the enclosures were only viewed from one side, and three provided off-show indoor areas. All animals appeared to view the visiting public with indifference or curiosity. However, C. geoffroyi are sensitive animals and are prone to stress. Older individuals, particularly, appear to habituate themselves less to the presence of visitors, and get very agitated when approached. Therefore enclosures must be designed big enough to allow the animals to achieve a reasonable distance between themselves and the visitors if they so wish. Cover must be available and the opportunity to go off-show must be provided. If possible, high perches should be provided to give animals vantage points from which to look down onto the visitors, restoring some level of control. Barriers between visitors and the edge of the enclosures should be reasonably wide to provide extra reassurance for the animals. (L. Dickie, 1994.)


In 1991 a reintroduction programme began for the restoration of C. geoffroyi populations in some forest fragments in the state of Espirito Santo, south-eastern Brazil. Although none of the released groups successfully established themselves in the area, concurrent studies of behaviour and ecology of the wild marmoset groups, which began in 1993, are providing much important data that will benefit introduced groups from future releases, giving a better basis for the management of the species. (Passamani, M., and Passamani, J.A., 1995).


I would like to thank the Geoffroy's marmosets at Shaldon Wildlife Trust for enriching my life. With special thanks to Stewart Muir of Shaldon, and to my best friend Guy for the use of his computer and copying facilities. My thanks, too, to all those who participated in the survey.

Products mentioned in the text

Abidec multivitamins, Warner Lambert Health Care, Lambert Court, Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K.

Cytacon B12, Duncan Flockhart & Co. Ltd., 700 Oldfield Lane North, Greenford, Middlesex, U.K.

Gum Arabic and Acacia Gum (available from pharmacists and specialist suppliers).

Marmoset Jelly and Mazuri Marmoset Diet, Special Diets Services Ltd, P.O. Box 705, Witham, Essex CM8 3AD, U.K.

Milupa Infant Food, Milupa Ltd., Milupa House, Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Middlesex, U.K.

Rovimix D3 Powder, Roche Products Ltd., P.O. Box 8, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL7 3AY, U.K.

SA37 Multi-vitamin Powder, Intervet UK Ltd., Milton Road, Science Park, Cambridge CB4 4FP, U.K.


Captive Care Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain (1987): The Welfare of Pet Marmosets. UFAW, 8 Hamilton Close, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Herts. EN6 3QD, U.K.

Chamove, A.S., Anderson, J.R., Morgan-Jones, S.C., and Jones, S.P. (1982): Deep wood chip litter: hygiene, feeding and behavioural enhancement in eight primate species. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems 3 (4): 308–318.

Coimbra-Filho, A.F., and Mittermeier, R.A. (1976): Exudate-eating and tree-gouging in marmosets. Nature 262: 630.

Dickie, L.A. (1994): Environmental Enrichment in Captive Primates: a Survey and Review. Darwin College, Department of Biological Anthropology, and the University of Cambridge.

Epple, G. (1968): Comparative studies on vocalisations in marmosets (Hepalidae). Folia Primatologica 8 (1): 1–40.

Ferrari, S.F. (1989): Lilliput in the trees. BBC Wildlife Magazine 7 (2): 104.

Garber, P.A. (1984): Proposed nutritional importance of plant exudates in the diet of the Panamanian tamarin, Saguinus oedipus geoffroyi. International Journal of Primatology 5: 1–15.

Moore, M. (1989): Marmosets in Captivity. Basset Publications, Plymouth, U.K.

Passamani, M., and Passamani, J.A. (1995): A reintroduction program for Geoffroy's marmoset. American Journal of Primatology 15: 367–371.

Price, E.C. (1992): Nutrition of Geoffroy's marmoset. Dodo 28: 58–69.

Terborgh, J. (1983): Five New World Primates. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Val Wakenshaw, 9 Park Court, Chillaton, Lifton, Devon PL16 0HN, U.K.

Situation wanted

Animal professional seeks position in conservation and animal reintroduction strategic planning/implementation. Travel is preferred. Twenty years related experience. Professional training in exotic animal training, management, and related specialties. CV upon request. Biography available online at <

biography.html>. Contact Diana Guerrero, P.O. Box 1154, Escondido, California 92033. E-mail: or phone (24 hours): 760.599.3697.





Every winter, individuals in the chimpanzee group at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem suffer from flu-like, upper respiratory ailments of mild to acute severity. Symptoms of viral illnesses in chimpanzees are similar to those seen in humans and include sneezing, coughing, and mucus discharge from the nostrils. Improving the health of these animals and augmenting their longevity is of paramount importance to the zoo staff. The aim of this placebo-controlled study was to determine if an elderberry extract preparation, Sambucol, could prevent the upper respiratory maladies affecting the chimpanzees and/or reduce the incidence and duration of the symptoms.

The properties of the black elder (Sambucus nigra L.) have long been known in folk medicine tradition and used against influenza. Therapeutic indications of the elder flowers are influenzal colds and sinusitis (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 1983, pp. 186–187). Sambucol, a standardized extract of the berries of the black elder, is a preparation used in humans as a herbal remedy to treat influenza and flu-like symptoms. In addition, it contains a high amount of flavonoids. The flavonoids are naturally-occurring plant substances that are known to possess antiviral properties (Nagai et al., 1990; Serkedjieva et al., 1990; Amoros et al., 1992; Mahmood et al., 1993). Its efficacy against several strains of influenza virus was demonstrated in laboratory experiments, as well as in a double-blind placebo controlled clinical study during an epidemic of influenza B Panama (Zakay-Rones et al., 1995).

Materials and methods

The chimpanzee group consisted of ten animals. For the purposes of this study, the group was divided into an experimental and a control group. All the chimpanzees of both groups continued to inhabit the same enclosure throughout the study, and hence were in continual contact with one another. This ensured that all chimpanzees were exposed to the same viral agents in the same quantity, and that the duration of their exposure was also similar. The experimental group, those receiving Sambucol daily, consisted of four animals: Og (male), Brigitte (female), Gremlin (neutered male), and Tzipi (female). The age of the animals in this group ranged from four to 31 years (mean: 14.25 years); their body weight ranged from 20 to 60 kg (mean: 43.75 kg). The control group consisted of four animals: Chiquita, Shirley, Hope, and Maya (all females). Their ages varied from six to 16 years (mean: 10.6 years) and their weights from 35 to 55 kg (mean: 46.25 kg). Two nursing infants, Eden (male) and Nicky (female), refused to receive Sambucol and were not included in the study.

Sambucol (Razei Bar Industries 1996 Ltd, Jerusalem) is a syrup containing elderberry juice, raspberry extract, glucose, citric acid and honey.

The chimpanzees in the experimental group were given 10 ml of Sambucol orally every morning for a period of approximately six months during the autumn and winter `flu season', from September 1996 through mid-March 1997. The control group was given 10 ml of sugar syrup daily for the same period. Animals in both groups accepted these supplements without protest and with apparent enjoyment.

All animals were observed three times daily for 15 minutes at a time. During each observation period, the appearance of symptoms in an animal (coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge) was noted, as well as their apparent frequency and intensity. When flu-like symptoms were observed to affect any of the animals in the experimental group, the dosage for that animal was increased from the normal regimen to 15 ml of Sambucol twice daily.


Table 1 shows the number of days in which flu-like symptoms were observed for individuals in both groups. The control group was observed to exhibit flu-like symptoms over a total of 39 days, whereas the experimental group had symptoms during 12 of the total days observed. According to the zoo staff, Brigitte, in the experimental group, and Maya, in the control group, were especially susceptible to these types of illness; for this reason, these two females were evaluated separately. During the study, these animals were most frequently noted to be sneezing, coughing and suffering from nasal discharge.

The total number of incidences recorded for symptoms, as well as the total number of days in which the animals were ill, for the experimental and control groups is depicted in Table 2. Data is provided for both groups, including and excluding the most symptomatic chimpanzees, Brigitte and Maya. The control group was ill approximately three times as long (days in which signs of illness were observed) as the experimental group. With regard to the appearance of specific symptoms, coughing was observed twice as often among the control group, excluding Brigitte and Maya; approximately three times as often including these chimps. When chimpanzees in the control group were ill, the symptoms endured twice as long as those seen in the treated group of animals.


Chimpanzees given Sambucol as a prophylactic against flu-like symptoms were three times less likely to become ill than those that received no treatment. In addition, chimpanzees in the experimental group

Table 1. Number of days when flu-like symptoms were observed in experimental and control animals.

Experimental group No. days Control group No. days

Og 2 Chiquita 4

Tzipi 3 Shirley 4

Gremlin 1 Hope 7

Brigitte 6 Maya 24

Total 12 Total 39

Table 2. Duration of illness and incidence rate of symptoms in experimental and control groups.

N.B. Data for Brigitte and Maya is excluded from category 1 and included in category 2.

Experimental group Control group

1 2 1 2

Duration of illness (days) 6 12 15 39

Observations of coughing (days) 4 9 7 30

Observed incidence of illness 5 11 11 20

who were treated with a triple dose of Sambucol when they exhibited symptoms of influenza during the course of the experiment were ill for fewer days than those untreated animals in the control group. A comparison of Brigitte and Maya indicates that the former had six episodes of illness (coughing), all with a duration of only one day, whereas latter endured nine episodes of illness, lasting for a total of 24 days, with coughing seen for 23 of those days.

This study was continued from October 1997 through March 1998. During this time period, both the prophylaxis and the placebo were discontinued, and all animals of both groups were treated symptomatically with 15 ml of Sambucol twice daily. In brief, the study showed that on every occasion where animals were treated with Sambucol, symptoms lasted for less than 24 hours. The exception to this was when the sick animals refused treatment and were subsequently ill for periods of three to seven days. For a period of four days during the course of this experiment, animals were treated prophylactically in response to a major outbreak of flu among the zoo staff. None of the chimpanzees became ill during this time, although in past instances of staff illness chimpanzees had become infected.


Although the sample size of this study is quite small, it shows that the use of Sambucol prophylactically for flu and flu-like symptoms reduces the appearance of symptoms by two-thirds in chimpanzees. In addition, Sambucol has been shown to effectively reduce the duration of illness once symptoms have appeared. Chimpanzees receiving an increased dosage of Sambucol on showing symptoms of flu were ill for fewer days after receiving treatment.

This study suggests that the use of Sambucol is both an effective preventive measure and an effective treatment for flu-like symptoms in chimpanzees. We believe that the use of Sambucol in either regime can improve the health, well-being and longevity of these primates.


We would like to thank the staff of the Primate Section at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (Noa Allon, Shirly Vertinstein, Haviv Tarazi and Jane Gruman) who assisted Beverly Burge in doing the observations of the chimpanzees during this project.


Amoros, M., Simoes, C.M., Girre, L., Sauvager, F., and Cormier, M. (1992): Synergistic effect of flavones and flavonols against herpes simplex virus type 1 in cell cultures: comparison with the antiviral activity of propolis. Journal of Natural Products 55: 1732–1740.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1983). British Herbal Medicine Association, West Yorkshire, U.K.

Mahmood, N., Pizza, C., Aquino, R., De Tommasi, N., Piacente, S., Colman, S., Burke, A., and Hay, A.J. (1993): Inhibition of HIV infection by flavonoids. Antiviral Research 22: 189–199.

Nagai, T., Miyaichi, Y., Tomimori, T., Suzuki, Y., and Yamada, H. (1990): Inhibition of influenza virus sialidase and anti-influenza virus activity by plant flavonoids. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 38: 1329–1332.

Serkedjieva, J., Manolova, N., Zgorniak-Nowosielska, I., Zawilinska, B., and Grzybek, J. (1995): Antiviral activity of the infusion (SHS-174) from flowers of Sambucus nigra L., aerial parts of Hypericum perforatum L. and roots of Saponaria officinalis L. against influenza and herpes simplex viruses. Phytotherapy Research 4: 97–100.

Zakay-Rones, Z., Varsano, N., Zlotnik, M., Manor, O., Regev, L., Schlesinger, M., and Mumcuoglu, M. (1995): Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B (Panama). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1 (4): 361–369.

Beverly Burge, Zoological Assistant and Section Head, Hospital Unit, Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, POB 898, 91008 Jerusalem, Israel; Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D., Razei Bar Industries, Manhat Technology Park, Bldg. 1, Flr. 1, 91487 Jerusalem, Israel; Tal Simmons, Ph.D., Visiting Professor, Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Hebrew University, Givat Ram, 91004 Jerusalem, Israel, and Western Michigan University, Department of Anthropology, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, U.S.A.



`The World Zoo Conservation Strategy emphasises that the use of a wide variety of educational techniques, facilities, and considerations, together with knowledge, creativity, and inventiveness can make zoos highly interesting, attractive and effective places for environmental, conservation, and holistic life system education.'

IUDZG, 1993 (paragraph 4.11 p. 24)

What is the present educational provision in British and Irish zoos? What do zoo educators think about their jobs, and what do they see as positive and limiting factors in the development of zoo education?

Between September 1997 and March 1998 I conducted research to answer these and other questions, as part of a M.Sc. in Environmental and Development Education. This article summarises some of the results and an analysis of the findings.

A total of 75 zoos were contacted with questionnaires – all 60 Zoo Federation members plus 15 others. Overall a 65% response was received; 72% of Federation zoos and 40% of others. In addition responses were received from 73 zoo educators.

Education provision

Seventy-one per cent of respondents have an education department, although 11% of these do not employ education officers. There are 73 educators (36% are part-time), plus 36 other staff – e.g. graphics, administration – in these education departments. Seventy-three per cent of all these staff have a university degree (19% zoology; 21% biology; 33% other), and 53% are qualified teachers. However, 74% of full-time staff earn less than £15,000 p.a. (12% less than £10,000 p.a.), and 44% work more than 41 hours a week.

The responses indicate that at least 50% of Federation zoos have an education department, although all Federation collections should have a member of staff designated with educational responsibility.

Seventy-three per cent of zoos `direct teach' visiting school pupils, and 71% have an education room for this. Within the responding zoos there are 19 lecture theatres and 39 classrooms, representing a total capacity of approximately 3,500 at any one time. In 1996 at least a quarter of a million pupils were taught directly (in 24 zoos), and well over half a million pupils visited these zoos on organised educational visits.

Zoo staff involved in education

Tables 1 and 2 illustrate the percentage of zoos where the named categories of staff are involved in educational activities for schools and the public respectively. Apart from the use of education officers, the responses indicate that keepers are a particularly important part of a zoo's provision for education. Twenty-nine per cent often or always involve keepers in school talks, and 56% often or always involve keepers in talks for the public. In addition, 35% of respondents also indicated that they use volunteers in public education activities.

The vast majority of zoos (81%) prepare or offer educational resources for schools, and 58% also offer some resources for the public. These resources range from single-sheet animal information notes to carefully thought out teachers' packs on specific subjects – for example, the majority have resources on conservation, rainforests and endangered species. In nearly all cases where education officers are employed, resources are produced in-house.

Table 1. Zoo staff involvement in education for schools (% of zoos).

rarely occasionally often always never or N/A

keepers 18 28 12 17 25

scientific/curators 10 12 2 0 76

marketing 16 16 4 0 64

gardening 10 6 0 0 84

managers 20 18 12 8 42

other 2 2 4 2 90

Table 2. Zoo staff involvement in education for visitors (% of zoos).

rarely occasionally often always never or N/A

keepers 8 28 31 25 8

scientific/curators 6 6 0 0 88

marketing 6 6 0 0 88

gardening 10 10 2 0 78

managers 10 18 10 8 54

other 0 6 2 6 86

What do zoo education officers do?

Zoo educators' jobs are very varied and educators have to be multi-skilled and are not restricted to what is often seen as their main role, schools' provision. Table 3 illustrates the range of other activities zoo educators are involved in.

With respect to graphics, education officers have full responsibility for these in only 29% of zoos, but 50% of educators are involved in preparing text. Animal staff and management are also involved in text preparation in one-third of collections. Thirty-five per cent of zoos do their own illustrations; three indicated having an in-house artist, and 10% use photographic images.

Table 3. Activities undertaken by zoo educators.

public talks 86%

answering letters 83%

admin./bookings 83%

outreach 83%

maintenance 83%

marketing ed. 80%

zoo development 69%

volunteer training 56%

cleaning 53%

care of animals 53%

(other tasks 100%

What is the aim of zoo education?

Key-word analysis of the responses to this open-ended question shows that many zoo educators believe their job to have several main aims, as summarised in Table 4. The achievement of these aims is believed by respondents to be, on the whole, multi-dimensional, with 48% considering informal approaches important and 37% formal approaches important.

The majority of zoo educators provide information, either written or orally, on issues such as recycling, reducing energy use and waste, CITES restrictions, and joining conservation groups. The average zoo educator: often buys recycled products; drives to work; occasionally re-uses carrier bags; rarely uses a dishwasher or tumble-dryer; and buys fair-trade products. There is certainly some evidence of practising what they preach!

Table 4. What is the aim of zoo education?

conservation support 44%

raising awareness 40%

changing attitudes 25%

inspiring interest 23%

interpreting zoos' work 20%

encouraging understanding 80%

teaching/educating 16%

Positive movements in zoo education

The most important developments in zoo education as far as respondents were concerned are:

more recognition for their educational role 22%

more cooperation between zoos 20%

more focus on the general zoo visitor 19%

As far as enjoyment of their job is concerned, the most frequently stated enjoyable aspects are:

being in the zoo environment / with animals 38%

having a job with a real, positive role 36%

contact with the public 27%

teaching 26%

variety in the job 23%

Limiting factors to the development of zoo education

There is little to surprise in the responses received to this question:

lack of money / resources 63%

lack of support 34%

influence of marketing / commercialism 19%

It is not surprising that these concerns are reflected in the answers given to indicate what educators least enjoy about their jobs:

lack of support 26%

administration 23%

low status / undervalued 20%

low pay (relatively) 19%

internal politics 18%

limited / lack of resources 16%

The responses generally indicate an improvement in zoo education over the last few years, but reflect a worry that education is still `tacked on' for `teaching schoolchildren', rather than fulfilling the primary educational function of a zoo. There are, however, indications that this is gradually being acknowledged by more zoos, and that a variety of staff are involved in fulfilling this function.

Zoo educators' opinions

Upon being asked to express their opinion regarding a series of statements, it is interesting to note that (a) there is a significant difference in opinion expressed between educators who are qualified teachers and those who are not, and (b) 25% of respondents added comments to qualify their answers.

There is no strong agreement – or otherwise – that zoo educators should be qualified teachers. However, 92% believe that education programmes should be linked to the schools' National Curriculum. Fifty-eight per cent think that live animals are essential in most or all education sessions, whilst 87% agree that conservation messages should be part of all sessions. However, only 30% believe that first priority should be placed upon schools. Indeed, as an example of this more generalised attitude to education, 88% believe that educators should be involved in exhibit design.

Only 8% believe that if there were no endangered species, zoos should close. Interestingly, only 16% of educators (and 34% of teachers questioned) believe that elephant culling is unacceptable, and only 27% agree with shoot-to-kill policies against poachers.

Zoo education preparing for the next millennium

The responses to my survey indicate a healthier state of education in Federation zoos in the late 1990s compared to the 1980s (which is when many of the zoos began appointing education officers). However, there is no room for complacency, and considerable improvements can still be made.

The Federation collections, and members of EAZA, are certainly becoming more seriously committed to their educational roles, with proposed educational standards for members. Those zoos with active education staff have great potential for `promoting environmental education [and] shaping public opinion' (IUDZG, 1995), as well as encouraging more responsible and sustainable actions. This potential can only be utilised to its full extent if a holistic approach to education is employed – not just focusing on schools. It also has to be noted that Federation and EAZA members generally have far better provision for education and take this role more seriously than other collections in the U.K. and Ireland.


I would like to thank all 49 zoos and 73 educators who responded to my questionnaires. I am grateful to all my colleagues and peers who have helped me formulate my ideas, and to the tutors on the M.Sc. course for their helpful advice and feedback. In addition I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society throughout the period of my M.Sc. studies. Details of the part-time distance learning M.Sc. course can be obtained from M.Sc. in EE & DE, EPSS, South Bank University, 103 Borough Road, London, SE1 0AA.


IUDZG (1993): The World Zoo Conservation Strategy. IUDZG/CBSG.

IUDZG (1995): Zoo Future 2005. IUDZG.

Woollard, S.P. (1998): The educational role of zoological gardens and their potential in developing education for sustainability. Unpublished thesis, M.Sc. in EE & DE, South Bank University.

Stephen P. Woollard, Assistant Head of Education, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA, U.K.

Guide to Palm Cockatoo husbandry

The AZA Palm Cockatoo SSP Husbandry Manual has been published. Copies can be obtained from Mike Taylor, Palm Cockatoo SSP Coordinator, at White Oak Conservation Center, 3823 Owens Road, Yulee, Florida 32097, U.S.A. (Tel.: 904–225–3308; E-mail: It is also on the internet at http://www.



The white-faced scops owl (Otus leucotis) is an African species, distributed widely from southern Africa to the edge of the Sahara. Standing around ten inches (250 mm) tall, it is one of the larger members of its genus, and preys on insects, birds, and rodents up to the size of a small rat.

Its nesting sites include old birds' nests, up to about the size of a buzzard's, and also flimsy assemblages of twigs of the type constructed by pigeons; alternatively it may use holes and hollows in trees. An account of the breeding of the species at Chester Zoo, given to me by keeper George Merry (pers. comm.), mentioned that when provided with a choice between an old magpie nest and a nest-box, the pair chose the latter, to great success over the past few years. Accordingly, the nest-box provided for my pair was of the same design, approximately one foot (300 mm) square, with a three-inch (75 mm) hole in the front.

The breeding female white-faced scops owl (on perch), with the 1997 owlet looking out of the nest-box. (Photo: Ian Marshall)

I have found this owl to be completely hardy in an unheated outdoor aviary, even in East Anglia (a part of England with a cold winter climate). The aviary is, however, completely roofed with translucent PVC sheeting, and in winter clear acrylic sheet is attached to the front in order to minimise the effects of wind chill. The aviary measures ten feet by four feet by six feet high (approx. 3 ´ 1.2 ´ 1.8 m). One-inch (25 mm) green PVC-coated mesh is used on the roof and front; the sides and back are of tongue-and-groove cedar panels. The nest-box is placed at the rear of the aviary. Nesting substrate is a 1:1 mixture of peat and coarse wood shavings. Peat is also used as a floor covering.

I have kept this species since 1990, when I obtained a female from London Zoo and a male from the Falconry Centre in Newent (now the National Birds of Prey Centre). The pair proved compatible, with regular mutual preening bouts being seen. Vocally, this is an undemonstrative species, with only a quiet, bubbling hoot of around seven short notes ending in a longer hoot uttered by the male. Also, when disturbed and slightly alarmed, both birds would pull their feathers in close to the body, arch their necks and bob their heads up and down, with erect `ear' tufts and slitted eyes. This unusual ritual was accompanied by a guttural cat-like hissing.

An ideal diet would consist of mice and day-old chicks. At London Zoo these are supplemented with buffalo worms and locusts. An aviculturist of my acquaintance has found that hamsters make a very useful addition.

My pair showed no inclination to breed until 1995, when three eggs were laid and incubated, but unfortunately proved to be infertile. With the cooperation of the New Forest Owl Sanctuary I exchanged males; the new bird had been bred from stock imported from South Africa, so he was unrelated to my female.

During the second week of April 1997 the female began to lay. Possibly due to inexperience, she did so off a perch onto the floor below. As the first egg was unbroken, I put it in an incubator, and as a precaution against further mishap I spread a deep layer of peat underneath the perch. The female, steadfastly refusing to use the nest-box, laid three more eggs from the same position into the peat. All three broke! Meanwhile the original, now in the incubator, was candled and found to be fertile, though it eventually failed to hatch.

During the second week of May the female laid again. Interestingly, this time she used the nest-box and sat tight. The clutch proved to consist of only a single egg. Owing to the need for minimal disturbance, I do not know the length of the incubation period. However, the egg hatched and the owlet was raised to maturity.

Thus, after early setbacks, the pair have gained valuable breeding experience. Also, as they are now housed in an aviary where I can observe any interesting behaviour, I hope to be able to write further on this attractive species.


In the 1998 breeding season, the pair laid three eggs. One owlet died in the shell, but the other two hatched and were successfully reared by the parents.

Ian Marshall may be contacted by E-mail at




Flying foxes of the genus Pteropus have never been popular zoo animals, but can usually be seen in small numbers at most zoos which have a nocturnal house. A large number of the 58 to 68 species are, however, threatened, and captive breeding could be a way to save a number of species or subspecies.

Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust has already proved that captive breeding is quite possible, and their programme to save the Rodrigues flying fox (P. rodricensis) is one of the success stories of captive breeding. This species is now the most commonly kept flying fox worldwide. Because of their success with this species, Jersey has now begun a breeding programme for a second species, Livingstone's flying fox (P. livingstonii), and it seems that this will become as successful as that of the Rodrigues flying fox.

Some other institutions are also working with endangered flying foxes – for example Phoenix Zoo, Arizona, the Lubee Foundation, Florida, and Silliman University, Negros, in the Philippines – but much more needs to be done to save all the rare and endangered species.

Current status of some Pteropus species and subspecies

Taiwan flying fox (P. dasymallus formosus). There is little hope that this subspecies can be saved. Around 1985 several hundred were counted on Green Island, the only known place where this subspecies was found. By disturbing and destroying the habitat and by hunting, the total population was wiped out by 1995. About 8–10 specimens are known in captivity (Anon., 1995), but as far as I am aware, no serious breeding attempts have been undertaken so far, though this would be the only way to save this subspecies. The nominate subspecies, the Ryukyu Islands flying fox (P. d. dasymallus), is kept in small numbers at Taipei Zoo (3.2) and in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo (1.1).

White-winged flying fox (P. leucopterus). This endangered species is found only on the island of Luzon (Philippines), and is threatened by both hunting and habitat loss. Some actions to protect the species have already taken place (educating the local people, protecting roosts), and a captive-breeding programme has been set up at Silliman University. In 1992 the world's first breeding was achieved here, and since then further breedings have taken place. Even so, to spread the risk, it would be wise to set up more colonies (Wirth, 1992, 1993).

Livingstone's flying fox (P. livingstonii). The Livingstone's or Comoro black flying fox is the subject of Jersey's second flying fox breeding programme, and the 17 animals brought to Jersey have grown to a colony of 22 animals. A further seven have been sent to Bristol Zoo to build up a second colony. With this species, too, in addition to the breeding programme, education of the local people should help to save the species.

Marianas flying fox (P. mariannus). Several populations of this species are endangered (for example that on the Ryukyu Islands), and on Guam the population was estimated at about 500 in 1990. As far as I am aware, none are kept in captivity at present, but to save at least some of the subspecies, action is urgently needed.

Greater Mascarene flying fox (P. niger). This species has already become extinct on Reunion, and only a small population is found on Mauritius. Luckily, however, a captive-breeding programme already exists, and at Black River, Mauritius, the species is being bred successfully. But it would be useful if more captive colonies could be set up, reducing the risk of losing the entire captive population by a disaster or disease.

Little golden-mantled flying fox (P. pumilus). Together with the white-winged, this is the most threatened Pteropus flying fox from the Philippines, known only from Palmas Island. As with the white-winged, Silliman University has set up a successful breeding programme for this relatively small species, and a satellite population has already been brought to the U.S.A., where a thriving breeding colony of 18.16.1 animals is kept at the Lubee Foundation.

Rodrigues flying fox (P. rodricensis). Thanks to the very successful breeding programme started by Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust in the 1980s, this species is now the most commonly kept flying fox worldwide. A total of 621 animals is kept in 19 collections, and with the help of education programmes on Rodrigues, the future for this species looks bright.

Samoa flying fox (P. samoensis). The Samoa flying fox is already nearly extinct, and although some experience of captive management was gathered on Samoa, it was not possible to import the small colony there into the U.S.A. The six animals were therefore entrusted to a local person in whose hands they all died (Cox, 1984). Hopefully some new ones can be brought into captivity to set up a properly managed breeding programme – otherwise the future looks very black for this species.

Guam flying fox (P. tokudae). Probably extinct, but further searching is needed. If any survivors should be discovered, only a captive-breeding programme can save the species.

Pemba flying fox (P. voeltzkowi). Only known from the island of Pemba off the coast of Tanzania, this species has been threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Several conservation organisations have started programmes to protect the species, which has a wild population of 4,600–5,500 animals (1997 estimate). A small captive population (4.1) is kept at Phoenix Zoo.


Much has still to be done to save flying foxes, and many species or subspecies not mentioned here are also found on one or a few islands, and are at equally great risk. A few species classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable are already kept in captivity – for example 1.0.1 Bonin Islands flying foxes (P. pselaphon) at Tama Zoo, Tokyo, and 1.2.2 Malanipa Island flying foxes (P. speciosus) at Moscow Zoo – but many others are still not represented. Hopefully, instead of leaving it to Jersey to set up further programmes in due course, some of the larger zoos will take responsibility for rescuing one or more of these species before it is too late.


Anon. (1995): Taiwan-Flughund im Freiland ausgerottet. Mitteilungen, Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz 11 (2): 21.

Cox, P.A. (1984): Flying fox nearly extinct in Samoa. Bats 1 (4): 1–2.

Wirth, R. (1992): Artenschutzprojekte auf den Philippinen. Mitteilungen, Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz 8 (2): 14–15.

Wirth, R. (1993): Erhaltungszucht for endemische philippinische Flughunde. Mitteilungen, Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz 9 (2): 15.

Maarten de Ruiter, Pr. Beatrixstraat 9, 4793 CV Fijnaart, The Netherlands.


Houbara bustard captive breeding update

The houbara bustard captive-breeding programme was initiated in 1986 at the National Wildlife Research Centre (NWRC), Taif, Saudi Arabia. The aim was to establish new houbara populations in the wild in that country, to replace populations of resident houbara eliminated by over-hunting and habitat loss. Due to the low densities of wild houbara in Saudi Arabia, NWRC staff travelled to Algeria and Pakistan to obtain a suitable stock of founders for the captive breeding programme. Permits were obtained for the collection of eggs from the wild and their transport back to the NWRC. Eggs from two species were collected: the North African Chlamydotis undulata and the Asian C. macqueenii. The latter species inhabits the arid plains from Sinai to Mongolia and is the appropriate form for release into Saudi Arabia.

Breeding success was first achieved in 1989 with the production of 17 chicks. Fifty-five and 49 chicks were produced in 1990 and 1991 respectively. By 1992, six years after the programme began, the captive population had become self-sustaining with the production of 138 chicks. Significant improvement in breeding techniques resulted in a further increase in 1993, when 285 chicks of both species were produced, and from 1994 to 1997 the totals produced were 94, 195, 249, and 261 chicks respectively.

Since 1991, juvenile C. macqueenii have been released into the 2,200 km2 Mahazat as-Sayd reserve. In 1995, the discovery of two nests and a brood of young chicks, offspring of released houbara, was a milestone following nine years of intensive work on reproduction and behaviour of this species. In summer 1996, 296 C. undulata were returned to North Africa, to Morocco, where they form the founder stock for a new houbara breeding centre.

The 1998 breeding season has been the most successful yet for the NWRC, with more than 240 macqueenii chicks produced, bringing the total numbers of houbara chicks hatched since 1989 to 1,050 for C. macqueenii and 1,550 for both species. The use of artificial insemination boosted fertility from 69.5% in 1992 to 90% in 1998. Likewise, hatchability increased from 53.7% to 75% over the same period. More than 100 macqueenii chicks are scheduled to be released into the Mahazat as-Sayd reserve in late 1998. These results demonstrate the success of breeding and release techniques developed by NWRC staff: it is now possible to release large numbers of houbara into suitable protected sites in Saudi Arabia.

Stephane Hemon in Re-introduction News No. 16 (September 1998)

A safe haven for European mink

British and Estonian biologists are attempting to establish a breeding population of European mink on an island in the Baltic Sea, reports John Bonner in New Scientist (5 December 1998, p. 7). David Macdonald of the University of Oxford outlined the plight of the species at a symposium on carnivore conservation at London Zoo in November. Replaced by the American species (Mustela vison) over most of its former range, the European mink (M. lutreola) survives only in the former Soviet Union, northern Spain and south-west France. But the total population has been reduced to just a few hundred individuals. `It is certainly heading for extinction,' says Macdonald.

Working with biologists in Belarus, he and his colleagues have studied the interactions between the two mink species in the north-east of the republic, close to the Russian border. American mink only expanded into this area about 15 years ago. The scientists had thought that the alien intruders would either compete with the native species for limited food, or that males would oust their smaller European cousins in competition for mates, diluting the pure European stock by interbreeding. However, field studies showed that food is not the problem: the American mink take a wider range of prey, but frogs – the main food of the European mink – are never in short supply. Nor is there any evidence of matings between species. Instead, the intruders use their greater size and ferocity to chase European mink away from the best hunting grounds. `American mink of both sexes will actively seek out and attack European mink and drive them out of the area and into sub-optimal habitats,' says Macdonald.

This competition has had a startling effect on the remaining populations of European mink in Macdonald's study area. Over a space of a few generations their average size has increased by between 12 and 15 per cent, so that the two species are now almost the same size. `Only the biggest have any hope of withstanding the onslaught of the American mink, so these are the only ones that have survived,' Macdonald explains. But even this exercise in accelerated evolution is unlikely to save the European mink. Even the larger European individuals seem to be no match for the American ones, who are more aggressive and can intimidate other animals of their own size. Macdonald says the only conservation options are to establish viable populations on islands in the Baltic, or to employ trappers to catch both species, killing the intruders and releasing the European mink. His team is now attempting to wipe out a population of American mink on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa, which has an area of some 1,000 square kilometres. The three-year project, funded by Britain's Darwin Initiative, aims to replace the American animals with European mink from a breeding population of 80 animals, currently held at Tallinn Zoo.

Gharial reintroduction in India

As populations of gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) declined in India, the government started a `Crocodile Project' during the 1970s, and several Indian state governments established crocodile breeding and management programmes. To reduce natural losses, the `grow and release' technique was adopted. This involves the collection and incubation of wild-laid eggs in artificial hatcheries, rearing of young in a controlled environment and the subsequent release of grown-up gharials into protected areas. So far around 3,685 captive-raised gharials have been released into 13 rivers in India. The post-release monitoring indicates that the released animals have settled well into their new habitats and populations are increasing. In the near future, as recruitment into the adult group steadily increases, new areas may have to be developed to attract sub-adults to settle to form new breeding groups. In addition, new release sites have to be identified for future gharial reintroductions.

Captive-reared gharials have been both reintroduced in areas where they had been extirpated locally and also used to supplement relict populations. Though the major proportion of captive-reared stock was produced through the collection and incubation of eggs laid by wild gharials, eggs produced in captive-breeding facilities have also contributed in recent years. During the period 1975–1992, approximately 500–600 eggs were collected from the nests of wild gharial every year. The overall production of animals for supplementation amounted to 40% of the eggs collected; this represented an eight- to ten-fold increase over the survival of young gharial hatched in the wild and, therefore, justified the supplementation programs for relict populations. Supplemented gharial were `head-started' before their release into the wild by rearing them in captivity for varying lengths of time.

To date no studies have conclusively established a `correct' supplementation methodology with respect to age/size of animals at release, selection of release sites, or season. Generally accepted rules are: (1) A minimum size of 1.2 metres length; (2) Release at the uppermost stream point with a protected area which is preferably inhabited by animals of similar size; (3) Release should be completed immediately following the final recession of monsoon high water; (4) Animals should not be released directly into flowing water, but on land. In practice there have been many deviations from the above rules, as well as from the IUCN guidelines for reintroduction. From a total of around 4,000 captive-reared animals which have been released in rivers, 60% to 65% have been used for the supplementation of relict populations within protected areas. The remaining 35% were reintroduced into unprotected areas within the species' former distribution but where they did not occur any more. The supplementation exercise has been most successful in the Chambal river, where approximately 33% of the animals up to the age of five years were recorded to have survived within the protected National Chambal Sanctuary. Suggested reasons for the comparatively rapid recovery of the gharial population in this river include the ideal habitat conditions, abundant prey, minimal disturbance because of the remote and inaccessible locations, and management inputs such as a total fishing ban and surveillance by sanctuary staff, but above all the extensive protected river length available to the released gharials.

Abridged from R.J. Rao in Re-introduction News No. 16 (September 1998)

South-East Asia's chelonians heading for extinction

The looming threat of extinction of every species of tortoise and freshwater turtle in South-East Asia first received global prominence at the 1997 Joint Conference of the Herpetologist's League and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles in July 1997 in Seattle, U.S.A. The presentation by Ross Kiester shocked the gathered herpetologists and was immediately picked up by professional and amateur herpetological networks around the world. It has since created a wave of concern for these reptiles, and discussions about averting imminent loss of anywhere from 20 to 50 species over the next 15 years.

However, the issue is not completely new: the first edition of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group Action Plan listed 114 species from India and South-East Asia as being of `conservation concern'. At that time, 23 of those species were included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. In the 1996 Red List, 49 species were listed from the same areas – a 113% increase in six years – and given that this data is necessarily now two years old and the threatening factors have grown rather than decreased, the situation is likely to be worse.

The basic issue, and the overriding threat to the turtles, is trade in wildlife. Among the many aspects to this very complex issue is the economic growth taking place in China, which is creating devastating consequences for the world's turtle populations. The magnitude of the problem is staggering – combine a massive 1.26 billion people (1996 figures) with new-found wealth and a tradition of eating turtles which extends back thousands of years, and you have a recipe for environmental disaster. For the trade is, for the most part, not international in the sense that these animals are being shipped around the world, but local: Asian species from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma are caught and shipped to the food markets of southern China. (Turtles from other regions are involved as well, but their numbers are relatively insignificant in the current trade.)

But whilst the trade in turtles has been known for some years, its growth over the past ten years is frightening. For one species, the elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata), trade was insignificant between 1988 and 1990, but had increased to 80,000 kg in 1991, 280,000 kg in 1992 and more than 720,000 kg in 1993. This amounts to almost half a million tortoises! In Vietnam alone, 180,000 kg of this species, representing about 100,000 tortoises, passed through the Cau Mong Market in Ho Chi Minh City in 1993.

The issue was first raised in the context of Australasian zoos within a Reptile TAG meeting in October 1997, when it was agreed to explore ways of providing a stronger regional collection focus to South-East Asian tortoises and freshwater turtles. In July 1998, I was able to spend three days in Vietnam to start to tease out the issues with my various colleagues there. Whilst the specifics of just which species are most at risk, which areas are under most threat, etc., remain unclear, there is no question about the overall threats and the fact that Vietnam's turtle fauna is all but gone – from one of the richest chelonian regions in the world.

Australasian zoos currently hold 52 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, including six that occur in South-East Asia. We have the potential to increase this proportion of the region's overall chelonian collection, and that is an issue that the Reptile TAG will be looking at very closely over the coming months. So far, important steps forward have been taken: (1) Strong contacts have been established in Vietnam, a key player in the turtle trade and a major chelonian centre; (2) An in-principle commitment has been given by the Reptile TAG to support conservation of South-East Asian chelonians; (3) Regular communication of information has been established with the U.S. Chelonian TAG, IUCN/SSC Tortoises and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and TRAFFIC International, including a commitment to support a proposed meeting on the subject in South-East Asia.

At this point, the most effective means of supporting chelonian conservation in South-East Asia would seem to be through partnerships with organisations already operating programs in these countries. Given Melbourne Zoo's current active partnership programs in Vietnam, this is an efficient point of entry. To that end, one option may be a turtle conservation project in Cuc Phuong National Park in the north of the country.

Abridged from Chris Banks in ARAZPA Newsletter No. 40 (November 1998)

[Further information can be obtained from Chris Banks, c/o Melbourne Zoo. (Tel.: 61–3–9285–9491; Fax: 61–3–9285–

9360; E-mail:

Golden-headed langur at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Cuc Phuong, Vietnam. (Photo: H. Jörg Adler)

Rescue of a rare langur

A golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus) is the newest arrival at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Cuc Phuong, Vietnam. The animal, a female about six months old, was captured by poachers on Cat Ba island, the only home of this rare species, and would probably have been illegally exported to China had it not fortunately been confiscated by the Vietnamese authorities. The young female is the first of her species in the world to be held under optimal conditions in a primate station where her biology and behaviour can be studied. But she is also a rare and precious animal– the status of golden-headed langurs in the wild has suffered a dramatic decline in recent years.

Translated and abridged by Nicholas Gould from a Münster Zoo press release

Arabian oryx reintroductions in Saudi Arabia – an update

For the fourth consecutive year Arabian oryx have been translocated from the National Wildlife Research Center in Taif into the 'Uruq Bani Ma'arid protected area. This reserve lies at the south-western edge of the Rub' al-Khali desert, also known as the `Empty Quarter'. By March 1997, the reserve was supporting an estimated population of 110 Arabian oryx. Two shipments totalling 17 (7.10) animals were completed on 9 and 31 March 1998. The antelopes, aged from 12 to 36 months, were restrained in four crates in groups ranging from three to six animals, and transported by air and road in a journey of approximately seven hours. Of these 17 animals, 14 (4.10) have been fitted with numbered collars only, and 3 (3.0) have been given radio-collars. The first group was assembled approximately one year before transportation, as they had been mother-reared together. The second group was formed two months before the translocation to create social cohesion among animals with a large range of ages. All the oryx were pen-trained one month prior to transportation to reduce stress. In the 'Uruq Bani Ma'arid area, they were kept in well-vegetated four-hectare pre-release enclosures for around one month, provided with dry hay, dry alfalfa and water ad libitum. From the day after release, supplementary food and water were no longer provided.

Since 1995, when the first releases took place in the Empty Quarter, 100 (47.53) oryx have been translocated without any deaths linked to the transport. Ninety-two of these animals were captive-born in Taif, and eight came from the Mahazat as-Sayd protected area. Ages of the translocated oryx ranged between three months and six years at their arrival. Eight (7.1) deaths among reintroduced animals have been recorded in the reserve since the first arrivals. Of these, six (6.0) are thought to have been the result of fights between males; the causes of the other two deaths are unknown. By the end of April 1998, the population of wild-ranging oryx was estimated to number 155 animals. Most of the animals have remained within 100 km of the release site, but some have been located 300 km to the south-east, probably investigating interesting pastures. We can expect further colonisation of the Empty Quarter in the near future. Aerial and ground surveys will be reorganized soon to cover a larger part of the desert.

Other release sites for oryx are under consideration in Saudi Arabia, in particular in the al-Khunfah protected area in the north of the country. This was declared a protected area in 1989, and covers 20,450 km2 of sand and gravel plains with low sandstone hills; it borders the south-western edge of the Great Nafud desert and lies within the historical range of the Arabian oryx. Ranger patrols and light aircraft survey the area daily. However, poaching problems and illegal grazing still need to be controlled. It is hoped that, for the future oryx reintroduction in al-Khunfah, poaching and grazing problems will receive attention from the highest authorities in the Kingdom.

Abridged from Eric Bedin and Stéphane Ostrowski in Re-introduction News No. 16 (September 1998)

Conserving the Iberian Lynx

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is considered to be possibly the most endangered cat species in the world. Restricted to the Iberian Peninsula, there are fewer than 1,000 individuals in nine isolated populations, each itself fragmented; the largest population, comprising about 60 individuals, lives in Parque Doñana in Spain and surrounding areas.

In February 1998, 52 participants from four countries took part in a Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) with the primary aim of developing a conservation plan for the species. Among the most important challenges identified was the absence of a cohesive strategy for lynx conservation and also for the restoration of its habitat for future reintroductions. The PHVA's recommendations included:

(1) To develop an integrated management plan directly linked with a goal of recovery, and including populations both in Spain and Portugal.

(2) To develop education programs designed to sensitize local people to the plight of the lynx.

(3) To define the actual habitat of the lynx and minimal conditions necessary for its survival.

(4) To create incentives for landowners in the mountainous areas in which the lynx lives to conserve and/or restore habitat that is favorable for the species.

(5) To develop research priorities, which might include genetics, reproduction, population structure, mortality, habitat regulation, translocation, migration corridor design, predator control and interspecific interaction.

(6) To develop a captive population with about 12 founders, with a long-term goal of 2–3 populations of 30–50 animals in total, to serve as both a research population and for the development of techniques relevant to the conservation of the species.

Abridged from Susie Ellis and Borja Heredia in CBSG News Vol. 9, No. 1 (September 1998)


An update on the Frozen Zoo

Unseen by the public, the Frozen Zoo is maintained by the Zoological Society of San Diego as part of the genetics program at the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), where the concept of living collections has been extended to include one of the largest inventories of living cells in the world. Housed in an array of large cryogenic freezers, the Frozen Zoo contains carefully accessioned and cryopreserved cells, representing a wide range of mammals and birds. It is composed of two parts: somatic cells (diploid fibroblast skin strains) and gametes (haploid sperm and eggs). The gamete collection, overseen by CRES's reproductive physiology division, includes semen samples from approximately 750 animals and eggs from another 75 individuals. The collection of somatic cells, however, comprises the bulk of the Frozen Zoo, with cells from 3,679 individual mammals and 26 birds.

Begun more than 20 years ago, the Frozen Zoo started as a resource for in-house research and as a way of preserving the genomes of animals for future studies. Today it is an incredibly valuable resource, not only for in-house research, but also for scientists around the world who are interested in studying the genomes of threatened and endangered species. Where else can they get cells of an elephant, a giant panda, or a gorilla?

From small ear-notch or skin biopsy samples collected opportunistically during routine veterinary examinations or at necropsy, cell cultures are established and grown until multiple vials of each individual can be frozen. Cells immersed in a special cryoprotectant medium are frozen at a rate of 1° C per minute and then placed in liquid nitrogen holding tanks for storage at -196° C (-385° F). Samples are split between freezers in two different locations to ensure safekeeping of the cells.

The acquisition priorities have been centered on mammalian species; 13 of the 26 mammalian orders are represented, but emphasis is on the Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Primates and Carnivora. Approximately half of the species are on CITES protection lists; also targeted are samples from species included in the SSP – of the 56 mammal SSP programs, 46 are included in the frozen collection at CRES.

Samples from the Frozen Zoo have been used in-house at CRES for virtually all of the genetic studies conducted by the cytogenetics and molecular genetics divisions. They have been used in studying genetic variation within and between populations of animals such as the gorilla, rhinos, bonobo and dik-dik. Cytogenetic studies have focused on identifying chromosomal differences within captive populations, as in the Somali wild ass, suni antelope and waterbuck. In cases of unknown parentage, cryopreserved cells have been useful in genetic evaluations to determine paternity or maternity. Frozen cells are particularly valuable in retrospective studies: an animal may have died, but there are still living cells from that individual in the Frozen Zoo that can be thawed for study in the future. There may be genetic, disease, or other medical questions that arise in the future that may depend on frozen cells for answers.

With the arrival and growth of genetic technologies, this collection of cells has come to the attention of scientists around the world who are interested in studying issues of biodiversity, genetics and systematics. In addition, the Human Genome project, the largest effort to date to define the entire human genome, has sparked interest in other species that can help researchers understand and elucidate the human genetic material. Samples from animal species are of tremendous help to these researchers. The scientific world was startled in 1997, when researchers in Scotland took a nucleus from a cell like those in the Frozen Zoo and transferred it into another enucleated somatic cell. The result was Dolly, a lamb that was a clone of its mother. It is because of scientific advances such as this that we cannot foresee all the potential uses of this precious repository.

Scientific advances and increased interest in the Frozen Zoo as a biological resource for research investigations have encouraged the CRES genetics division to expand the Frozen Zoo even further. Plans are under way to work with field biologists to increase the number of species represented: samples will come not only from far-off places but also from our own backyard. Samples from local fauna, as well as from neighboring Baja California, will help build the collection so that studies can be undertaken on local species diversity. Techniques are currently being developed to culture and freeze cells from birds by using the minute bits of cellular material at the end of bird feather shafts. Reptile and amphibian cells are also now on the horizon. With these additions, the Frozen Zoo may truly become the 21st Century Ark.

Arlene Kumamoto in CRES Report (Winter 1998)

Pheasant genetic screening project

A three-year project is under way to perform an extensive genetic screening of captive-reared stocks of Phasianidae, under the aegis of the EEP Galliformes TAG and the World Pheasant Association. The programme is under the control of Dr Ettore Randi and the work is being carried out by his team at the Instituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Bologna, Italy. The project is being funded by donations from seven pheasant-related organisations and ten or more zoos. Recently developed genetic techniques can help in many fields, examples of which are given below:

Taxonomic definition: recognising whether a species or subspecies is distinct from another closely related species or not. For example, is the Vietnamese pheasant different from Edwards's pheasant, and do they need separate conservation actions? How distinct are the three subspecies of green peafowl and do they need separate conservation actions in Java, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam?

Hybridization. One of the first steps of any captive-breeding programme is to detect hybrids between related (sub)species and sort them out. Examples are the crossing in the past of captive green and Indian peafowl, satyr and Temminck's tragopan, Edwards's and Swinhoe's pheasant, mountain peacock pheasant and grey peacock pheasant, Lady Amherst's and golden pheasant. Release into the wild of domestic or game birds can lead to hybridization with local species. In Japan, green pheasant mated with released black-necked pheasant, and two subspecies of the copper pheasant have been crossed after release of captive birds. In the wild, hybrids may occur in zones of contact between two subspecies.

Population specific markers: to track the movements of individuals over great distances or during an annual cycle. To follow a group and to optimise its conservation by focusing efforts on the greatest threat, for example in the winter area rather then the breeding area. An example would be the western tragopan, that has a fragmented habitat in its lower-altitude wintering area. In the same way, markers could be used to determine the relationship between the small isolated populations of a fragmented habitat, as with Reeves's pheasant.

Population features. Captive-breeding programmes need to evaluate the factors that affect population viability – founder relationship, effective size, genetic diversity, inbreeding – in order to manage the species accurately and detect an eventual need for new individuals. Genetic techniques help in planning long-term genetic diversity management. Although one of the EEPs' aims is to preserve and maintain 90% of genetic diversity for a period of 100 years, very few coordinators know the genetic diversity of their captive population, and even the relationship between the founders – especially in the case of Galliformes that have been captive-bred for many years in private aviaries. For example, Edwards's pheasants have been bred in captivity for 75 years, but we do not know the genetic diversity of the captive pool or how many different genetic bloodlines there are.

Identification of individuals: identification of unknown individuals and their parentage, or of their contribution to the past or future genetic diversity of a small captive population. This may be of interest in the case of birds housed by private breeders who do not keep past or present records of their breeding. Identification of individuals is also critical to plan the best matings.

Sexing of birds. It is often easy to know the sex of Galliformes because of a sexual dimorphism. However, it may be necessary to determine the sex of chicks or young birds that do not exhibit any sexual dimorphism until several months old, particularly in the case of international captive-breeding programmes where matings, exchanges, shipments and requests for official papers might be planned earlier. Also, the identification of the sex of young birds in the wild may be useful in studies of population ecology.

Abridged from WPA-UK Bulletin No. 41 (November 1998)

Inbreeding does not always result in depression

A controversial aspect in zoos has been the notion of `inbreeding depression', which suggests that with too small a pool of animal `founders' for many species in captivity, the species has no realistic chance of survival. They are destined to die out from `depression', although nobody quite knows what the cause of their demise will be. To be sure, if founders have the gene for hemophilia, there is likely to be trouble in raising healthy stock. But we know virtually nothing of such deleterious genes in most animals, and, therefore, we have taken to computer modeling. This theory has scared zoos from trying to begin a group with a small number of animals.

Experience, however, has also given us some hope, as many examples exist that show how a few founders can be quite successful. For example, from 12 nilgai antelope sent to the King's Ranch in Texas in 1941, more than 10,000 healthy animals have been born. Pacific elephant seals were down to about 30 animals, but after laws were enacted to protect them, their numbers have swelled into the thousands. The Przewalski's horse comes from, at most, 13 founders, with well over 1,000 animals bred during the past few decades and a reintroduction program under way. The Arabian oryx started with just five animals sent to the zoo in Phoenix, when it was feared they were extinct in the wild, and today more than 1,000 are living. Another success story is the black-footed ferret of Wyoming, from whose seven founders were bred 2,600 animals. Such examples lead us to be more optimistic when we are faced with so many endangered species today.

Kurt Benirschke, President, Zoological Society of San Diego, in Zoonooz Vol. 71, No. 12 (December 1998)

Update on the saola

The first photograph of a wild saola, or Vu Quang ox (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), has been published in Nature (Vol. 396, 3 December 1998, p. 410). The species was formally described five years ago, but there is as yet no consensus on its closest affinities, with some taxonomists assigning it to the Boselaphini (cattle and spiral-horned antelopes), and others placing it with the sheep and goats.

The new photo was taken when the animal triggered a camera trap laid by a team led by Mike Baltzer of Flora and Fauna International, who are surveying a mountain forest area along the Vietnam–Laos border. Based on rough calculations of the amount of habitat needed to support an animal of this size, it is thought that probably only a few hundred saola survive in the region, under continual threat from hunting and forest destruction. In situ conservation seems to be the only way to prevent the extinction of the species; none of the few saola brought into captivity in recent years has survived for very long.

Elephants from mice?

A mouse has produced an elephant's egg in a dramatic demonstration of a technique that – it is claimed – could be used to save endangered species. Tissue from the ovaries of three elephants in the Kruger National Park in South Africa was transplanted into mice whose ovaries had been removed. The mice were of a strain that lacks an effective immune system, so they did not reject the transplant.

The advantage of the system, says John Critser, of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, was that the ovarian tissue could be easily frozen for preservation, whereas freezing entire eggs or embryos was difficult. The elephant tissue contained only one or two immature follicles, the microscopic structures that contain the developing eggs. Within ten weeks or so, the follicles had matured and one mouse developed a mature elephant egg two months after transplantation.

Eggs, even those of elephants, are microscopic, so size differences presented no problems. In theory, Dr Critser says, the egg could have been removed, fertilised in vitro, and then transplanted into a female elephant. But to achieve success, more needs to be known about the physiology of elephants. We know a great deal about a few species, such as mice, humans and sheep, but very little about the fundamental reproductive biology of most exotic species.

Dr Critser, the scientific director of the Cryobiology Research Institute in Indianapolis, says that storing ovarian tissue, as opposed to eggs and embryos, at low temperatures may be a fairly simple way of preserving the genetic material from female mammals. In his latest experiments, published in Animal Reproduction Science, the tissue was frozen at -160° C before being thawed and transplanted into the mice.



Extracts from the Annual Report 1997


A total of 22 birds were hatched in the park during the year. Most of those were lesser white-fronted geese (Anser erythropus); four pairs successfully managed a total of ten goslings. Through the years, the Nordic Ark has devoted great efforts to the attempt to get this, our most endangered species of goose, to reproduce – among other things, by supplying birds to Project Lesser White-fronted Goose for breeding and reintroduction. In all, 14 geese hatched during 1996–1997 were moved to the Öster-Malma game preservation school, the project's headquarters. Two young geese were also sent to Helsinki Zoo.

Other noteworthy hatchings among the birds were three salmon-crested cockatoos, two of which survived. At the beginning of 1998, the EEP programme for this species numbered a total of 325 birds distributed among 78 institutions in Europe. But despite this relatively large number of birds, only a small proportion are breeding. Our affiliation with the programme makes it possible to increase the genetic diversity of the European stock – the 16 cockatoos currently kept at the Nordic Ark make up the third largest group in Europe. It is believed that salmon-crested cockatoos stimulate one another into breeding, and one reason for the good breeding results here may be our large stock. Several of the chicks hatched here during the past few years will be sent away to other zoos in order to distribute our genetic material as effectively as possible.

All our salmon-crested cockatoos were sexed this past year by University Diagnostics Ltd. of London, on the basis of a feather plucked from each bird. Several of our owls were also sexed, and all the Ural owls (Strix uralensis) and great grey owls (S. nebulosa lapponica) turned out to be males, which explains why there have been no attempts to breed! Accordingly, one of our priorities during the coming year will be to try to exchange one of the males for a female, to create the conditions for breeding.

Our pleasure in the reproduction of the snowy owls was soon dampened when we lost our breeding female and the chick had to be hand-raised. Not long afterwards, our yearling chick managed to escape from the enclosure. By the beginning of the new year, the situation was much grimmer than it had been just one year before. For the moment, all that remains of our stock are the breeding male and this year's chick. During the coming year, we will attempt to get hold of a new, unrelated female for our male.

One of our pairs of white storks also hatched two chicks, but sadly, they disappeared after a short time and, just like last year, the wild ravens in the park were the culprits. As a result, we were unable to help Project White Stork in Skåne by providing new birds for release into the wild.

The greatest loss during the year was undoubtedly the work of another predator. One spring morning, we found both of our white-naped cranes dead in the enclosure. Both had been bitten in the neck, and it is likely that the marauder this time was a fox.

The Nordic Ark's male Amur leopard, Lama. A female has now joined him from Frankfurt Zoo.

As a follow-up of Project White-backed Woodpecker in Sweden, seven Dendrocopos leucotos nestlings were taken from their nests in Norway. After fostering at the Nordic Ark, four chicks were reintroduced to the wild.


Four cats – one Amur leopard, two European wildcats and one Amur cat (Prionailurus euptilura) – arrived; all of these cold-hardy species are new to the park. Fifty-three per cent of the 19 wild mammal species reproduced. Among the most noteworthy births were five cubs from our old maned wolf pair, two wolverine (Gulo g. gulo) kits, two lynx and an otter. One of the maned wolf cubs was stillborn and, unfortunately, none of the wolverine kits survived.

Replacement of the game fence in the markhor (Capra falconeri heptneri) enclosure for a more stable and fine-meshed fence yielded immediate results: a total of eight kids were born, and six survived. Unlike in previous years, when only a very few survived, none of the kids disappeared or were taken by foxes. This year the markhor achieved higher status in European zoos when the species was given European Studbook Status; it was already on the CITES I list, and now has finally been given the attention it deserves in the European zoo world. When a species is included in an EEP programme or given studbook status, interest in it usually rises, a phenomenon that we can confirm with respect to markhors – after several years of silence, demand for them has suddenly exceeded supply, and we are unable at present to provide animals for all the zoos that have shown interest in this, perhaps the most magnificent of the wild goats. However, a number of kids will be sent to parks in France and Italy during the coming year. An annually recurring problem among the markhors has been their rapidly growing hooves; during the winter, markhors and other ruminants have been fed with low-protein, high-energy fodder, and a certain improvement has been observed as a result.

We deliberately decided not to replace our breeding Przewalski stallion, which did not cause any complications. The herd remained harmonious even without a leader stallion. A method has recently been devised for localising the gene that carries the disposition for `fox colouring'; two copies of the gene cause an undesirable light colour variation in Przewalski horses. The method was initially tested on domestic horses, but was later used on Przewalskis. Samples from all our horses were sent to the University of California for analysis during the year.

Domestic breeds

It can also be an important task for zoos – from cultural, historical and biological standpoints – to display domestic breeds and inform the public about their significance. Since many zoos keep domestic breeds, one could wish that they helped to secure vigorous and genetically diverse stocks of our threatened old native breeds. It would be quite possible for zoos, together with native breed societies and other interested parties, to build up coordinated breeding programmes for these breeds, modelled on the EEP programmes.

All but four of the native breeds reproduced. A total of 24 Gute and Longwool lambs were transferred to eight different collections around the country. New breeds for the year were the Gotland rabbit, which replaced the Swedish fur rabbit, the West Norwegian fjord cattle and the Linderöd's pig. Two Telemark heifers were sent to Germany, and a bull and two heifers of the same breed went to another Swedish collection.

Collaborative conservation projects

The green toad (Bufo viridis) is a mainly eastern European species, once fairly widespread in the south of Sweden, but now restricted to a few sites in the southernmost region, Skåne. In collaboration with Göteborg University, about 1,800 tadpoles were collected from the wild. They were reared and underwent metamorphosis at the Nordic Ark, and over 1,010 young toads were released in three batches in August and September. Ten young toads were also transferred to the Skåne Zoo. The chances of survival for the released toads were assessed as good, due to the extremely warm summer. [Detailed accounts of both the green toad project and Project Lesser White-fronted Goose are published in the Nordic Ark's full Annual Report 1997. – Ed.]

In Sweden, the white-backed woodpecker is an acutely threatened species, now found only in small remnant populations. Project White-backed Woodpecker has been working for many years to protect the bird's habitats in wooded areas. The Nordic Ark got involved in the project in 1995. The approach so far has been for us to hand-rear nestlings collected in Norway, and release them at suitable sites in Dalsland in western Sweden. The plans include eventually keeping a number of breeding pairs at the park, so as to be able to supply the field project with captive-bred young. We intend to carry out a pilot project with the great spotted woodpecker (D. major) over the next few years in an attempt to get them to feed young of the white-backed woodpecker. If the outcome is favourable, it would reduce the need for time-consuming hand-rearing and significantly cut the costs of the project.

Leif Blomqvist and Sune Gregorius


Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska, U.S.A.

It took one of mankind's worst affronts to the ocean to spur the building of the center, which opened in May 1998. Penalties of $37.5 million paid by Exxon Corporation after it spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaskan waters nine years ago provided the bulk of construction money for the $52 million, 115,000 square-foot (10,700 m2) center, a state-of-the-science facility for rehabilitating and researching marine mammals. The idea for such a center had been discussed in Alaska for three decades, long before the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that confirmed the need for it. Although the oil spill did not foul the beaches of Seward, the town got deeply involved, fashioning one of many makeshift stations for cleaning slicked and sick sea otters and birds. Seward lobbied hard for the facility for many reasons. It already had a small oceanography research center, operated by the University of Alaska, that had outgrown its tanks and labs. It also wanted a big draw to encourage cruise ships to dock awhile longer, and tourists to drive from Anchorage, about 125 miles north. Geology gave Seward an edge. Although surrounded by glaciers and mountains, its deep harbor is always ice-free, allowing for year-round research in and out of the water.

Voters in the town (population 3,000) approved $17 million in revenue bonds for construction costs, and residents raised $6 million in private donations. But the center's $6.25 million annual operating budget is almost entirely dependent on gate receipts and gift shop sales. However, the target of 250,000 visitors annually seems likely to be reached – only ten weeks after opening day, the center's 100,000th visitor passed the turnstile.

The center is designed to be two parts research and rehabilitation, one part tourist attraction. But it's tourism without any tricks. There are no hourly shows featuring performing seals or sea lions, no little fish for sale to feed to the animals. The emphasis is on education. On exhibit now are three Steller's sea lions, eight harbor seals, 15 river otters and dozens of seabirds. More injured or sick smaller animals may be rehabilitated here, but no additional large, marine mammals are expected as permanent residents.

The facility's laboratories are closed to the public but open for viewing from large windows on the second floor. From this perch, visitors can peer down into large stalls where various animals may be getting poked and prodded for measurements, blood specimens or other research. `The students are on display just like the animals,' jokes research director Michael Castellini, one of 60 full-time employees. `That was an important aspect of the design of the center. The permits we have for these animals are exclusively research permits, not aquarium permits.' Steller's sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) are a special focus. Since the 1970s, scientists have been baffled by the species' dramatic decline in Alaskan waters – the population in Seward's Kenai Peninsula region has fallen from 150,000 to 25,000. But there has been no easy way to research these animals, since few are in captivity and those in the wild are too aggressive and unwieldy to study. One research project at the center alters the sea lions' diets to look for differences between them and their wild counterparts. Scientists theorize ecosystem changes have forced the animals to switch from once abundant and healthy herring to a steady diet of pollock, fish that Castellini considers `junk food of the sea.'

Abridged from Patricia Guthrie in Atlanta Journal–Constitution (23 August 1998), contributed by Richard J. Reynolds

Amsterdam Zoo (Artis), the Netherlands

A pair of crested seriemas (Cariama cristata) is held in the zoo's bird house. The male, reared in England, arrived on 6 June 1985, and the female was received from the U.S.A. on 27 May 1987. These birds were long housed with a pair of wreathed hornbills, but rarely laid an egg or showed much breeding activity. In 1995 they were moved to an enclosure shared with pairs of greater vasa parrots and blue-and-yellow macaws. The indoor enclosure measures 4 m by 3 m by 2.5 m high, and the outdoor area 5 m by 3 m by 3 m high. The first two years that the birds were in this enclosure, they laid fertile eggs on a 2.5 m high nest platform (50 ´ 50 ´ 7 cm), but the eggs were always broken within the first ten days.

In 1997 a nest-box for the macaws was fastened to 2.5 m high branches in the outside enclosure, and the seriemas immediately began placing heather and twigs on top of the box. In total four clutches were laid in 1997. The first two clutches were lost. The eggs from the third clutch were removed after ten days' incubation and replaced with dummies; one egg was fertile and was artificially incubated. Both fertile eggs in the fourth clutch were also exchanged and artificially incubated. During incubation of the dummy eggs of the third clutch, the parents were disturbed by the vasa parrots, who were then held inside while the seriemas had the outdoor enclosure to themselves.

The first chick was hand-reared. The brooder temperature was dropped from 37° C after the first week to around 28° C, and the relative humidity was around 40%. The brooder floor was covered with heather. The young bird was fed finely-cut `pinkies' sprinkled with a yeast mixture and crickets. Dead grasshoppers were also fed after one week. The chick was fed with pincers for the first few days, but thereafter directly from the hand. It was initially fed every two hours from 7:00 to 21:00; after a week the last feed was given at 18:00, and after two weeks at 16:30. It began to pick up food itself at around ten days of age, and ate entirely independently at two months. One of the two eggs from the fourth clutch was returned to its parents on the 24th day of incubation, after the chick was internally pipped; the chick hatched on the 26th day, but had disappeared the next day. The other chick hatched in the incubator on day 26 and was hand-reared. Both hand-reared young are now in an enclosure adjoining the parents. The parental diet will be changed next year before or during incubation, in the hope that this will encourage the parents to rear their own chick.

English summary of article in Dutch by Waalewijn de Wit, published in De Harpij Vol. 17, No. 4 (1998)

Berlin Zoo, Germany

The sudden death on 31 August 1998 of Kiba, the 11-year-old Asian bull elephant born at Houston Zoo, Texas, was a real nightmare for the keepers and veterinarians involved. He died in less than 24 hours after showing signs of indisposition. Several injections were given to him in the evening of 30 August, but when work started again the next morning he was found dead in his box. According to the post-mortem report the death was caused by a herpes virus infection, similar to the one which killed his brother at the age of four at African Lion Safari in Ontario, Canada, ten years ago. Kiba had arrived from the United States just nine months earlier – another similarity to the case of his brother, who died four months after moving to Canada. It seems that this particular virus breaks out after a change of environment and the stress caused by this.

There were no real problems with Kiba at Berlin; he adapted very well to the new keepers and also to the cows there. He mated with three of them shortly before his death and there are hopes for at least one pregnancy, so hopefully his genes will live on in a son or daughter born in the year 2000.

Jürgen Schilfarth

Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Four male African wild dogs were born at the zoo on 17 July 1998. This is the first successful litter for the institution, as well as for the four-year-old dam and ten-year-old sire. The pair are on loan from San Francisco and Knoxville Zoos respectively, as part of the SSP population. The pups are being mother-raised. During their first three months, they were off-exhibit, but visible to the public via a television monitor set up in the zoo's Habitat Africa! exhibit.

A female klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) was born at the zoo on 9 July 1998 and is on exhibit with her parents. This is the first klipspringer birth at the zoo, which has exhibited the species since the opening of the Habitat Africa! exhibit in 1993. The calf weighed a little over two pounds (0.9 kg) and measured about a foot (30 cm) tall at birth. The dam is on loan from Memphis Zoo, and the sire from Dallas Zoo. Brookfield is one of six zoos in North America to exhibit this species.

S. Katzen in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

Columbus Zoo, Ohio, U.S.A.

Eleven amethystine pythons (Morelia amethystina) were hatched at the zoo on 26 August 1998 from 12 eggs laid on 22 May. The eggs were incubated in 1:1 vermiculite at 32° C; they averaged 74.4 mm in length, 39.7 mm in diameter, and weighed an average of 84.58 g. The neonates' average total length and weight is 73.2 cm and 43.964 g respectively. This is the first breeding of this species at the zoo.

A stripe-necked leaf turtle (Cyclemys tcheponensis) hatched on 19 September 1998 from an egg laid on 2 July. The egg was incubated in 1:1 vermiculite at 29° C; its measurements were 65.2 mm by 31 mm with a weight of 39.215 g. The neonate weighed 23.738 g and had a shell length of 55.4 mm. This is the first known managed breeding of this form in North America and the 53rd species or subspecies of turtle hatched at the zoo since 1978.

D. Badgley in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark

The tropical house has had breeding success with tomato frogs. It is difficult to get these frogs to breed. They require a special climate, and the rainy season is imitated by regular sprayings in the exhibit; the lighting and sounds must also be right. Animal keeper Lene Rasmussen worked systematically to create the correct breeding conditions. She and her colleagues succeeded in making the frogs want to breed and lay eggs. But this was only a small beginning. Complicated efforts were made to keep the water clean and make sure the feed was right. Over 200 tomato frogs in two years is the result of Lene's work; half of them have been sent to other zoos all over the world.

It turned out, however, that Lene's efforts had another positive result. It is hard to tell the difference between the three species of tomato frog. The most critically endangered species, Dyscophus antongilii, is very red-coloured, whereas the other two are orange (D. guineti) or brown-orange (D. insularis). It was difficult to determine the species in Copenhagen. Our frogs are mostly orange; so even though Lene and her colleagues had the feeling that they belonged to the most critically endangered species, they would have to find a more certain way to identify them. In cooperation with Copenhagen University, Lene found a method. The frogs' calls are species-specific. It was not easy to tell the difference by listening, but when the sounds were pictured as sonagrams they could be distinguished. The results were convincing – the keepers' assumptions were right, and the Copenhagen frogs are indeed of the critically endangered species D. antongilii. In the international zoo world, there is a keen interest in Lene's work. The frogs from Copenhagen have provided fresh blood for the population of tomato frogs in other zoos, and in an attempt to save the species, Baltimore Zoo has planned a project in cooperation with the Madagascan authorities to establish a breeding centre on the island.

Abridged from the English summary of Zoo Nyt 98 (2)

Emmen Zoo, the Netherlands

It was necessary to trim the hooves of a female giraffe, Tiny, at the zoo, an operation that required anaesthesia. This mother had to be separated (for the first time) from her five-month-old male calf for the two days preceding the operation, as she could not be allowed to eat for two days, or to drink for one day, before the operation. The mother and son were reunited when the other giraffes were brought into the stall in the evening.

Tiny's stall was stacked eight bales high with hay on the morning of the operation (12 June 1997) to reduce the risk of injury should she fall. Eight keepers, the head keeper, the veterinarian, a blacksmith, two zoo interns and a film crew of two were present during the operation. The giraffe was given an injection containing 4.5 cc Immobolin, 10 mg Atropine and 4 cc Buscopon. The first attempt failed, apparently because of insufficient pressure to inject the syringe contents. The second attempt was successful, and after 13 minutes Tiny was unconscious. Her neck was held up with a board to avoid regurgitation and possible suffocation. She was immediately given injections containing 20 cc Tmps, 10 cc Effortil and 10 cc Dexadreson intravenously in the neck as soon as she was unconscious. She also received an intramuscular injection of 20 cc Multivitamin in the buttock. Her feet were tied, but she still kicked now and then. The hooves were all trimmed within 14 minutes, and a small infection was found in the right front hoof. The anaesthesia was reversed by an injection of 4.5 cc Revivon in the jugular vein and another 4.5 cc intramuscularly in the buttock, and she regained consciousness without incident.

A blood sample was removed from the neck and a milk sample was also taken while Tiny was under anaesthesia. The milk sample contained 7.39% fat, 5.43% protein and 4.69% lactose.

English summary of article in Dutch by Roos Feijen, published in De Harpij Vol. 17, No. 4 (1998)

Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, Channel Islands, U.K.

When Gerald Durrell and John Hartley first visited Round Island in 1976 they were captivated by the reptiles and bowled over by the stark imagery and biological significance of the island. For here on this tiny island was a Pandora's box of rare and endangered reptiles, plants, seabirds and invertebrates, many found nowhere else in the world. These species once had a wider distribution, including the main island of Mauritius. Eight or so thousand years ago, rising sea levels marooned the species on Round Island and, subsequently, the mainland populations died out after rats, cats and other alien animals were introduced by human colonists. Round Island was a true refuge – somehow these species had survived into the 20th century on this small island which was itself rapidly disappearing. All of its vegetation was being eaten by introduced rabbits and goats, and the soil was slipping into the sea.

Gerald Durrell immediately developed a two-pronged approach to saving the island and its unique wildlife. Some representatives of three of the rarest reptiles – Guenther's gecko, Telfair's skink and Round Island boa – were brought to Jersey Zoo to start a captive-breeding programme, and efforts were consolidated to remove rabbits and goats from the island and halt the erosion.

The reptiles have now been kept and bred at Jersey Zoo for two decades, and a great deal has been discovered about their life histories and biology. It is now time to take this work one step further, to find out more about these animals under natural conditions, and to start restoring reptile communities on other islands where they were once found. We have now eliminated rats, cats and mice from several islands around Mauritius and Rodrigues. Slowly, we are restoring these islands to a state where they can once again support communities of native reptiles. In addition to the three Round Island reptiles with which we have worked, there are several other endangered skinks and geckos that will benefit from our efforts.

We are cooperating with the British Museum of Natural History in London, where Dr Nick Arnold and Dr Jeremy Austin are working on the history and distribution of the Mauritius and Rodrigues reptiles. They have searched for living reptiles and carried out `digs' on several islands, looking for the fossilised remains of extinct species. We hope this research will tell us where else the animals we refer to as Round Island reptiles were once found. We also need to know exactly what conditions are needed by these reptiles if they are to thrive when transferred to other islands, ones which have changed a great deal since the time when the reptiles were naturally found there. This study will also help us to identify other species of reptile we may have to consider reintroducing or translocating as we gradually try to restore entire Mauritian ecosystems.

The Guenther's gecko, one of the largest and rarest geckos in the world, has not increased markedly in number on Round Island since the goats and rabbits were removed. Its population is still only in the hundreds of individuals. In Jersey we bred them repeatedly, but the animals never really thrived in captivity as we had hoped. Several research projects were conducted at the zoo, providing us with good basic data on diet, reproductive and territorial behaviour. We felt we had learned all we could from Jersey's captive population, and it was time for the geckos to go home, so in May 1998 11 animals were returned to Mauritius. For the time being, the geckos are housed in large naturally-planted enclosures at the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary, the Government of Mauritius's breeding facility at Black River. Returned to their native climate and conditions, the geckos will be closely monitored to help us make correct decisions when we start putting them on other islands.

The captive research is being complemented with field studies of the wild animals on Round Island. We are investigating when they are most active, what types of vegetation they prefer to live in, what conditions they require to lay their eggs and how they organise their societies. We used to think that Guenther's geckos lived in pairs, but it now seems likely that they live in groups and the males have harems. They feed on insects and nectar, but we have recently discovered that they can also be effective predators of small geckos. This may preclude our translocating them to islands which have populations of other rare species of gecko. After we have completed our studies we will carefully choose a suitable island on which they can be introduced to establish an additional population.

One of the other reptiles with which we have worked, the Telfair's skink, has increased dramatically on Round Island, with a population of several tens of thousands. However, it must still be considered vulnerable since it is found only on the one island. If rats should ever establish themselves on Round Island, the skink would probably become extinct. We have marked many of the wild animals with microchips to study their movements and survival rates. Great caution would have to be exercised in any future decision to translocate Telfair's skinks. They are very predatory and we would have to make sure they would not end up feeding on some other highly endangered species of reptile!

Drs Arnold and Austin have turned up many interesting surprises in the course of their reptile scrutiny. They found new populations of rare reptiles, discovered new species of living skinks and, on Rodrigues, they found bones of some extinct but undescribed geckos. Work is still in progress, but one thing is clear – there is still a lot to be discovered about the reptiles of Mauritius.

Carl Jones, Mauritius Programme Director, in On the Edge No. 83 (November 1998)

Miami Metrozoo, Florida, U.S.A.

The zoo received a pair of wild-caught Komodo dragons from Taman Safari Zoo, Bogor, Indonesia, in June 1995. The male, Jack, is estimated to have hatched in 1985 and the female, Lubier, in 1988. They are 2.5 and 1.8 meters, respectively, in total length. They are housed in an area that includes a spacious outdoor exhibit yard, five indoor holding cages, and two small off-exhibit outdoor holding pens. Our climate is such that the lizards have daily outdoor access virtually the entire year. Indoor temperature is kept at a minimum of 30° C, with hot spots added during the cooler months. The male and female are managed separately except for breeding introductions.

Male courtship behavior has been observed during several months of the year; however, the female was not receptive until January 1998. Successful copulation was observed from the 14th through the 19th in their outdoor display area. The dragons were separated after this brief breeding `season' and the female given access to the off-exhibit outdoor pen where she had previously dug a burrow. After a 25-day gestation period, Lubier laid and buried 27 eggs in her burrow and afterward deposited three more in an indoor cage. Twenty-nine of the 30 eggs proved to be fertile.

The eggs were set up in a mixture of vermiculite (oven-dried) and water in a 3:1 ratio by weight inside plastic-covered containers. They were weighed and checked weekly, and any water lost replaced with distilled water to return the container to its original weight. Incubation temperature averaged 29° C, but varied slightly according to data provided in the Taxon Management Account compiled for this species (T. Walsh, National Zoological Park). Hatching began after 212 days of incubation and continued to day 246. On day 257, one egg was manually opened and a healthy neonate emerged the following day. A total of 27 hatchlings was produced from this clutch. They had a mean weight of 122 g (range 80–142) and a mean total length of 43.6 cm (range 36.5–43). The hatchlings are all thriving and exhibit surprisingly aggressive behavior toward their keepers.

This breeding represents the largest hatching of Komodo dragons outside of Indonesia. More significantly, it adds an important new bloodline to the current U.S. population.

Abridged from Steve Conners, General Curator, in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

Odessa Zoo, Ukraine

July 1998 saw the birth of a female calf to Tarun and Vendi, the zoo's pair of Asian elephants. Both parents are about 20–21 years old and arrived from India in 1982. Their first calf, a male born in 1992, had to be hand-reared and was then sold to a circus, but this time the mother, Vendi, was very protective of her daughter and aggressive towards the keepers. It took 18 hours for the calf to get her first milk, because she was too small to reach the nipples, but with Vendi's assistance she finally succeeded. Now it seems that the baby is thriving, one of the very few young Asian females in the zoos of the former Soviet Union.

Jürgen Schilfarth

Paignton Zoo (Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust), U.K.

Making the most of a barren and dusty habitat, with hot days and cold nights, has been the task of our head reptile keeper Rod Keen and bird keeper Lyn Haig. For two years they have been working in the zoo's desert exhibit, keeping records while caring for the newly-introduced livestock.

Of the birds introduced to this area, only one species was found to be unsuitable: the small Cape doves did not compete well with other birds and had to be moved. They have since been replaced by diamond doves, a small Australian species with lots of confidence. The gold-billed doves settled in well and can often be heard croaking in the background.

Four princess parakeets have turned out to be `hooligans'; but no real damage has been done yet, and as they are all females the gang will not be gaining any new members. Both the hooded and Bourke's parakeets have bred and reared young, the offspring all being kept in this area until we can establish how much wear and tear our desert can take.

All of the finches enjoy life in the desert; protected from wind and rain, they are constantly on the move, looking for nesting material, displaying to a mate or foraging for food. The long flight distances keep them in tip-top condition – when viewing them through binoculars, it is hard to find a feather out of place. Red-eared waxbills have reared young this year, while the cut-throat finches have laid eggs. We have recently introduced a large flock of gouldian finches, and they already have chicks in a nest-box. These colourful Australian birds are unafraid of people, enabling us to view them in close proximity.

Many nest-boxes have been constructed by our team of volunteers. As they are placed around the area, each one is carefully inspected by all the finches and parakeets. One box hidden in an artificial termite mound has proved the most popular. We also made a mealworm feeder in the shape of a termite mound; this is a good spot to watch for birds as they come down to feed.

A covey of scaled quail trek around the rocks clearing up any fruit dropped by the parakeets. Many eggs have been laid and hatched during the last two years. Strangely, once the eggs have hatched the parents show no interest in the chicks. All surviving offspring have been hand-reared.

The stone curlews have reared several chicks. The mottled juveniles evade detection by lying flat on the sand and closing their eyes – a real nightmare for the keepers, who live in fear of stepping on a concealed chick.

The reptiles have done well in this house, maybe because of low winter temperatures. A pair of beaded lizards has produced eggs for the first time. Both these and the gila monsters are in superb condition and have doubled in size. Reptile staff put this down to a large digging area and the cooling-down period during the winter.

During the last few months we have introduced a group of cavies. In the wild they use regular trails, and our domestic group has several well-trodden tracks in the sand, along which they can be seen running in single file. The birds are not bothered by this mammal in their territory, and all can often be seen feeding side by side.

At first glance our desert does seem to be an empty and barren place, but a little time spent here will be well rewarded. Open to the visiting public for two years, the display is now shaping up nicely.

Jo Gregson, senior head keeper of birds, in Paignton Zoo News No. 37 (Autumn/Winter 1998)

Perth Zoo, Western Australia

A female orang-utan, Karta, has returned to Adelaide Zoo after seven months gaining exposure to maternal behaviours in Perth's colony. She was born in San Diego Zoo, and transferred to Adelaide some years ago. While still in San Diego Karta had one infant, which she rejected. She then had two more infants in Adelaide, but both died in the first week from depressed skull fractures, indicating mismothering. As Karta had never been exposed to maternal behaviours, as would happen in the wild, Adelaide and Perth Zoos cooperated to bring her into Perth's colony, where she lived with a 27-year-old female and her six-year-old daughter, and slept opposite a 17-year-old female and her four-year-old daughter. We hope that she has learnt mothering behaviours through this exposure, and that when she next has an infant, she will be more successful. Genetically, she is a very valuable animal in the region, so enhancing her chances of breeding successfully has been a priority for both zoos involved in this project.

Pamela Smith in ARAZPA Newsletter No. 40 (November 1998)

Riverbanks Zoological Park, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.

The following births and hatchings took place during the period October to December 1998: 1.0 reticulated giraffe (DNS), 1 pink-necked fruit dove, 2 keel-billed toucan, 1 white-crested turaco, 4 Gould's monitor, 1 crocodile skink, 1.0 green aracari, 1 violaceous plantain eater, 14 giant leaf-tailed gecko (2 DNS), 1 New Caledonia crested gecko, 18 Henkel's leaf-tailed gecko (2 DNS), 5 twig snake (1 DNS).

The following animals were acquired: 0.2 crested wood partridge, 1.0 rhinoceros hornbill, 2.5 thick-billed parrot, 1.0 rhinoceros viper, 0.1 reticulated python, 1 eyelash viper, 1.4 Henkel's leaf-tailed gecko, 1.2 hellbender, 1 blue-ring angelfish, 1 blue-girdled angelfish, 1.0 scribble angelfish, 5 saddleback butterflyfish, 2 pyramid butterflyfish, 3 yellow-banded sweetlips, 10 bicolor parrotfish, 10 clown surgeon fish, 4 purple tang, 0.2 Cortez wrasse, 1 yellow-tailed damselfish, 1 French angel, 1 psychedelic mandarin, 3 ocellaris clownfish, 1 three-stripe damselfish, 1 Arabian angelfish, 1.1 anthias, 1 debelius shrimp, 1 lysmata cleaner shrimp, 1 star snail, 2 brittle star, 5 hermit crab.

Alan H. Shoemaker,

Collection Manager

St Louis Zoo, Missouri, U.S.A.

Biotelemetry and time-lapse video were used to investigate thermoregulation in the zoo's American alligators. Temperature transmitters were surgically inserted into the abdominal cavities of five adult alligators. Four were maintained in two outdoor enclosures and one indoors; all had free access to pools with circulating water. Temperature data were recorded every ten minutes, 24 hours per day from November through July. Each enclosure was videographed two or three days per month from February through July. A compilation of data from video and biotelemetry revealed that the outdoor alligators were able to survive at body temperatures as low as 7.4–8° C. They most often avoided conditions that resulted in body temperatures above 31° C, although one reached 33.7° C. The alligators regularly moved out of pools to bask while air temperatures were still considerably lower than those of the water. They did not wait until the sun struck the pools, but oriented visually toward sunny areas, then emerged from the water and moved into the sun to bask. Movements of the alligators between the thermal zones of their enclosures, represented by pool and land areas, clearly resulted in significant changes in core body temperature.

C.S. Asa et al. in Journal of Herpetology 32 (2): 191–197 [reported in Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society Vol. 33, No. 10 (1998)]

San Diego Wild Animal Park, California, U.S.A.

The park's cheetah breeding facility, under the direction of researchers at the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), has produced more than 100 cheetah cubs during the 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, reproduction was so good that a pause in breeding activity was suggested by the cheetah SSP. Several years later, we have received the green light to begin breeding once again. However, many of the females in our group are now approaching the end of their reproductive life-span and are not cycling regularly. The CRES reproductive physiology and behavior divisions have developed a protocol for stimulating estrus and ovulation in this group of reluctant females. First, each female's reproductive tract is examined by both ultrasound and direct observation via laparoscopy. A hormone treatment is designed based on the status of follicle (the structure containing the ovum) growth in the ovaries. The hormones mimic the natural cycle of the female, stimulating follicle growth and ovulation. This treatment has been used four times with three cheetahs, resulting in estrus and mating in three cases, and at least one pregnancy. As we learn more about the cheetah's ovarian response to hormone therapy, we will further refine the protocol, and we are confident that we will soon be seeing cheetah cubs once again at the Wild Animal Park.

Adapted from CRES Report (Winter 1998)

San Diego Zoo, California, U.S.A.

Monkeys and otters might never be seen playing together in the wild, but they have been observed doing just that at the zoo. Paak, an infant François' langur, and Opal, an Asian small-clawed otter, have had great play bouts, which have been fascinating to watch. There has been physical contact between the two animals, but there has never been any injury. I have been observing François' langurs for ten years, and the behaviors that occur never cease to amaze me. There always seems to be something new, and I have now had the unique opportunity to see this interspecies play during my current observations of the monkeys and their reactions to their environment.

Play behaviors between different species are often seen in domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, and even different primate species have been known to engage in mixed-species play in the wild – for instance, Jane Goodall saw it occur between monkeys and chimpanzees within her study area in Africa. In zoos, as long as the animals are given species-appropriate surroundings and opportunities to get away from one another if desired, housing different species in the same enclosure can be a rewarding and enriching experience for all concerned.

The langurs were moved to their current enclosure in 1995, after extensive renovations. Members of the original group were one adult male, four adult females, and two (1.1) infants. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the intricate branches for climbing, the grass for foraging, and the flat roof over the bedroom area for napping and grooming. A stream runs through their enclosure and ends in a pond, but the langurs did not use it – they do not like to get into water.

Opal is the zoo's lone female Asian small-clawed otter. Without a mate, she was introduced into the langur enclosure so she would not have to live in a solitary situation, and she quickly made good use of the water that the langurs avoided. She also had her own sleeping area, separate from the monkeys' bedrooms, so that all the animals had a safe retreat. In the beginning, the relationship between the two species was not especially amicable, but it was one of mutual tolerance. The female langurs spent lots of time grooming one another, the youngsters played vigorously, and Opal swam in her pond. But on 3 November 1997, the population configuration changed when a female, Demi, gave birth to a son who was named Paak. There was some concern over Opal's reaction to the bright orange baby, and over the reaction of the adult langurs to Opal's presence near the infant. But relations remained unchanged – at least until Paak began wandering farther from his mother at four months of age. One sunny morning, when all the monkeys were clustered around the pond, Opal crawled out of the water and onto the grass to lie down. Paak watched her, then he slowly approached to within a few inches, eyeing Opal carefully before scampering back to his mother. Opal simply looked at him as he made several more close approaches.

At some point, Paak must have decided that Opal was not threatening, because on 5 March 1998, he was observed chasing her and jumping on her back. As the weeks went by, these `games' increased to a give-and-take between the two animals. They reversed positions several times, each chasing the other, and this play eventually included rough-and-tumble wrestling. On a few occasions, Paak even rode on Opal's back, `jockey style'. I spent hours watching these interchanges and saw that neither animal was hurt. It seemed that the activity took place when Opal was lonesome and went looking for her playmate, uttering a squeaky call, or when Paak's siblings were not interested in playing and the adult langurs were napping, and Paak then looked for Opal. Because Opal was already in the exhibit when Paak was born, he might not have seen her as a stranger, as the older animals did. And because the adults did not prevent him from associating with Opal, Paak saw her as an acceptable playmate. Opal remained a stranger to the adults and to the juveniles, but there were more changes in store.

The interaction increased with the birth of two more infants, a female, Liang, in February 1998, and a male, Chieh, in March. We wondered what effect this would have on Opal and the adults. She was seen occasionally sniffing at the newborns held by their mothers, but she made no other motions toward them, and the mothers continued to ignore her. It was not long before the babies were able to move away from the parents and begin playing with their siblings. Paak seemed delighted to have two smaller playmates, so he spent lots of time with them, as well as with Opal. The two new youngsters saw him play with the otter, and watched with great interest. When she was nearby, they seemed to be unafraid and to accept her as one of the `gang'.

In June 1998, when Liang was four months old, she approached Opal and, at a distance of a few inches, reached over to pat her whiskers twice. Opal remained passive. Within a few weeks, Liang was dashing up to touch the otter, and Chieh began bouncing up to her for a quick hand-tap. It appeared that the little monkeys saw her as another playmate, even though they had not yet reached the rough-and-tumble stage. Their more vigorous activities were directed toward the juveniles and Paak, and they continued developing their motor skills with lots of running and climbing. However, about a month after the initial contact, both Liang and Chieh were observed dashing up to Opal and bouncing off her back. Opal apparently does not mind – she has not shown any aggression and even appears to make an effort to be close to the little monkeys whenever possible. They have even invaded her bedroom area, through an entrance that is large enough for Opal and the young langurs but is too small for the adults. The youngsters also seem to tease Opal, looking at her and reaching toward her while up in the branches, where she cannot get to them. My expectation is that the play contacts between the younger langurs and Opal will become more and more frequent. It will be even more fascinating to watch what happens as additional infants are born into the group; and it will be interesting to see whether the current adults and juveniles become friendlier with the otter over time.

Abridged from Patricia Hobbs, Volunteer Observer, in Zoonooz Vol. 71, No. 12 (December 1998)

Sea Life Centre, Weymouth, U.K.

Since 1996, the centre has had a captive-breeding programme aimed at restoring the long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus ramulosus) to British waters, which are at the northern edge of the species' natural range. The programme began when seven seahorses were caught in the nets of local fishermen after an absence from the area of more than a century. After much trial and error, staff managed to create ideal breeding conditions, and numbers began to build up. Recently, however, the sexes in the 50-strong group have had to be separated.

Robin James, the project supervisor, explains: `In the last couple of months, we have noticed that the males have been so busy mating and brooding the eggs that they have been neglecting their own welfare. They go through an exhausting courtship ritual which involves much tail-entwining before the male impregnates the female. She then deposits the fertilised eggs into a pouch on the front of the male, who carries the eggs for about six weeks before they hatch. The problem has been that even though the male cannot mate again while he is carrying the eggs, the female continues to bombard him with demands.' The persecuted males were not getting enough to eat, losing weight, and getting dangerously thin. Since they have been separated `they seem to be enjoying some peace and quiet at last,' Mr James says.

The hope is that the centre's seahorses may help to repopulate British waters if half the captive stock is returned to the sea at regular intervals, leaving the rest to continue the exhausting task of breeding.

Tallinn Zoo, Estonia

In completing the zoo's collection, Far Eastern species have for a long time been high on our list of priorities. One of them is the Amur long-tailed goral (Nemorhaedus caudatus raddeanus) – a real rarity in zoos. This ungulate of inconspicuous appearance has brownish-grey, thick and fluffy fur, small sharp-tipped horns, a light throat patch and a relatively long tail fringed by white hair. From its shortish, powerful legs and stocky neck, one may wonder how it can reach the ground to eat grass. But spending most of the time on high and steep mountain slopes, it hardly has any need for bending downward to get its food. Only in summer, when the snow cover has gone, do gorals move to lower altitudes. Their closest relatives are the mountain goat, chamois and serow.

In the wild, the numbers are small, about 500–700 animals. Twenty-five years ago the situation was much better. The wild population lived mainly in a protected area, and in the Lazo nature reserve there was a special farm for research and breeding of this rare subspecies in captivity. But now conditions have changed: the farm was closed because of financial difficulties, and the gorals are not protected so effectively any more.

The first goral in Tallinn Zoo was a young wild-born male given by Moscow Zoo on loan in 1986. Three years later, on the occasion of our 50th anniversary, our Moscow colleagues gave it to us in perpetuity. At the same time we also received a young female from Moscow, whom the keepers named Tanja in honour of the head of their department. Four years after the closure of the Far East farm, we obtained another female and three more males. But breeding success was slow to come. The first kid was born in 1995, after we had been trying for six years to find a suitable mate for Tanja. Either she was too choosy or the males were not capable enough, but it was only with the third male, Nalchik, that breeding succeeded. A kid was born on 14 June and turned out to be a male. Both the young mother and her newborn were given much attention – the best food, a 24-hour watch, daily visits from the veterinarian – but unfortunately the kid lived for only ten days. Grieving at the loss, we could at least feel confident that Tanja and Nalchik were a pair. The next kid, also a male, was born on 30 May 1996. We waited in suspense, alarmed by every change in its behaviour, but it grew well. Today it is almost as big as its parents. As we had meanwhile lost our other female, we could now count only on Tanja. In 1997 she again gave birth to a male, but at a quite unusual time of year, on 20 October – in the wild gorals commonly breed from the middle of May to the middle of June. Despite the late date, the kid was strong and healthy. But the coming winter did not leave it untouched, and it died of pneumonia at the age of 20 days.

Tanja and Nalchik had always shared quite a small enclosure without having any conflicts. But in 1998 Nalchik suddenly became aggressive towards the female, and we had to separate them as Tanja was again pregnant. Ten days later, on 29 July, a long-awaited event took place – the first birth of a female goral at Tallinn Zoo. The parturition, as always, took place behind a heap of stones in the farthest corner of the enclosure. It was only at night that the mother dared to leave the shelter and bring the kid into the house. When the keeper first approached the kid, it became motionless with its neck stiffly stretched out, as it would have done in the wild. When the keeper picked it up to identify its sex, it still did not move, and when put back on the floor, it retained its stiff posture. The next morning the mother took her newborn out, but all day long she did not pay it any attention. We got worried, although we knew that this kind of behaviour is quite common in the wild. The mother was seldom seen suckling her baby, but after some time there was no reason to worry, because the kid was putting on weight. She was named Tilina and to everyone's joy she has been growing and developing well. Now we can look forward to the coming years with the hope that our gorals will continue successful breeding.

Adapted from Vladimir Fainstein and Tatiana Miljutina in Tallinn Zoo's 1999 calendar

Tama Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

Two African elephant females arrived at the zoo in 1967, and a male in 1971, and it was hoped that they would breed, but they gave no signs of mating. One reason was apparently the fact that the male was three years younger than the females and arrived after they did, so that he could not dominate the group. Then, in February 1996, the zoo brought in the female Ai from Himeji Central Park. The male, Tamao, was then about 28 years old, and Ai about 14.

The two were put together in May of that year, and in July mating was observed six times. After that Ai began to gain weight, and blood hormone levels indicated that she was probably pregnant. Ten months after mating her teats began to get enlarged, and at 18 months `lumps' could be seen in her abdomen. At 21 months she began to defecate one time less per day than usual, but urinated more frequently. After 20 April, she showed nervousness at night, and her abdomen became visibly distended.

On the morning of 25 April Ai did not eat, so straw bedding was spread out in preparation for birth. Normally she would eat in the evening, but at about 6 p.m. she lay down, and then repeatedly got up and lay down over and over. At 10 p.m. she got up, strained immediately, and her membranes ruptured. Twenty minutes later the baby was born. At first Ai attacked it with her feet, but soon she calmed down and began to caress the baby with her trunk, encouraging it to stand up. The baby drank its first meal about two hours after birth, but after that it got disoriented and was unable to find Ai's teats again. Then the keepers made Ai raise her front foot as they did during training. This enabled the baby to find the teats, and it was able to nurse without difficulty after that. The mother was able to go outside again on 4 June, and the baby is doing well.

English summary of article in Japanese by S. Sato, T. Sekii, M. Katayanagi and E. Tobita, published in Animals and Zoos Vol. 50, No. 10 (October 1998)

Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, Germany

On 19 September 1998 we opened two new outdoor enclosures for African buffaloes (Syncerus c. caffer) and forest buffaloes (S. c. nanus). We have been keeping African buffaloes since 1959, and forest buffaloes since 1969. The enclosures have areas of 3,400 m2 and 3,190 m2 respectively. Two buildings (446 m2) comprise 10 stables each for the night. Visitors and animals are partially separated by dry moats. The bottom is filled with gravel mixed with grass seeds. Sandy places and mud wallows can be used for skin care. The enclosures are in the immediate vicinity of the African ungulate section, which has been constructed since 1995 (giraffes in 1995, zebras and Somali wild asses in 1996, antelopes in 1997).

On 6 December we finally opened a new enclosure for our reindeer. It has an area of 1,600 m2 and is incorporated in the territory of the farm for domestic animals, completed in 1997.

Dr Bernhard Blaszkiewitz

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

The purple jay (Garrulus lidthi) is endemic to Amami Oshima in the Ryukyu Islands, and is protected by law. Ueno Zoo has had three of them in its Birds of Japan exhibit almost since the time of its opening in August 1995. A male was obtained on breeding loan from Hirakawa Zoo, Kagoshima City, and two females from Isoteien Park. In 1996, the male and one of the females paired off and laid two eggs, both of which broke before hatching. One of the eggs had been infertile. After brooding these eggs, the female contracted pneumonia and died.

In 1997 the remaining two birds mated and laid seven eggs. Four of them were fertile, but one died during incubation, and the other three just before hatching. On 20 February 1998, the male began courting the female by bringing her food, and on 13 March the female entered the nest. On the 18th she laid her eggs, and did not leave the nest after the 20th. There were five eggs, and one broke. The other four were removed on 29 March and put into an incubator. Of these only one was fertile, and it hatched on 7 April.

The chick was fed pink mice that had been ground up and frozen. Glucose solution was added to increase the water content. As the chick grew, dog food, bananas, hard-boiled egg and other ingredients were added, as for the parent's food. At first the chick was fed from tweezers, then after seven days of age from a bamboo spoon. After 20 days it began to peck at the food itself, and at day 29 it ate a beetle larva. After 34 days the chick learned to swallow the same fruit as the adults if it was put into its mouth. After 92 days it began to show signs of timidity, and would flee when humans approached. As of 30 September, it weighed 160 g and had grown to a total length of 373 mm.

English summary of article in Japanese by H. Kodo, Y. Inomata, N. Goto, T. Ishikawa and M. Natsusaka, published in Animals and Zoos Vol. 50, No. 11 (November 1998)

Zoo Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

A female drill was born at the zoo on 24 September 1998. This is the parents' sixth offspring, all six born and mother-raised at the zoo. The 11-year-old parents have been together since their arrival nine years ago. The drills reside with a group of mona monkeys in the Ford African Rain Forest. Zoo Atlanta is one of only three zoos in the United States with a drill collection and has the only breeding pair in the country. With drills being the most endangered species of African primate, working to promote their conservation is one of the zoo's top priorities. This latest birth brings the managed population in the U.S. to 20, eleven of them at Zoo Atlanta.

K. Casteel in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

News in Brief

Two fossa kits (Cryptoprocta ferox) were born on 18 June 1998 at San Antonio Zoo, Texas, U.S.A., a first breeding for the zoo. San Antonio acquired its wild-caught fossas in January 1997. Copulation was witnessed over a three-day period starting on 27 April; after a gestation period of 52–54 days, the female gave birth to two young in a secluded nest-box. The young have been exploring their exhibit since 25 July.

J. Langwell in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

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In August 1998, Munich Zoo, Germany, transferred their 32-year-old female Asian elephant, Dirndl, who did not get along well with the rest of the herd, to Kiev Zoo, Ukraine. Kiev has a proven breeding bull, Boy (28 years old), who has lived alone for many years since the death of his female companion; but Dirndl's advanced age probably reduces the likelihood of successful breeding.

Jürgen Schilfarth

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A tragic accident took place in early December at Doué la Fontaine Zoo, France. Two four-year-old female jaguars dug their way unnoticed out of their enclosure, and one of them attacked a five-year-old boy, one of a family with four children who were visiting the zoo. Although the father tried to save his son, the jaguar had already bitten the boy in the head and he died shortly afterwards. The father was also severely wounded, being almost scalped, but was luckily saved in hospital. Both jaguars were shot shortly after the attack.

Maarten de Ruiter

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Since 1993, a pair of trumpeter swans at Bramble Park Zoo, Watertown, South Dakota, U.S.A., has produced 24 cygnets for the species' conservation program. The cygnets are parent-raised without human contact and then taken to Minnesota Zoo before they grow their flight feathers. They are released at two years of age with a bright orange wing-tag at lakes in Minnesota.

D. Miller in AZA Communiqué (January 1999)

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A baby pygmy hippopotamus went on show for the first time on 13 January 1999 at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, U.K. The four-week-old female was orphaned at birth, when her mother Valenta died during an emergency Caesarean section operation.


30th Annual Conference and Workshop of the

International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine

Boston, Massachusetts, 2–5 May 1999

For further information, contact Conference Coordinator Elizabeth Coleman, New England Aquarium (E-mail:

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Fourth International Penguin Conference

Coquimbo, Chile, 4–8 September 2000

This is the first time that the Conference will take place on the South American continent, where much penguin research is currently being undertaken. If you are interested in participating, please contact: Guillermo Luna-Jorquera, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Department of Marine Biology, Larrondo 1281, Casilla 117, Coquimbo, Chile (E-mail:; Fax: +56–51–209–812)

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CBSG Annual Meeting

Pretoria, South Africa, 15–17 October 1999

Contact: CBSG, 12101 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley, Minnesota, 55124, U.S.A. (Fax: 1–612–432–2757; E-mail:

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World Zoo Organisation Annual Conference

Pretoria, South Africa, 18–21 October 1999

Contact: Sarita Cronje, National Zoo, P.O. Box 754, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. (Fax: 27–12–323–4540)


Alberts, A.C., Oliva, M.L., Worley, M.B., Telford, S.R., Morris, P.J., and Janssen, D.L.: The need for pre-release health screening in animal translocations: a case study of the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila). Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 3 (1998), pp. 165–172. [As part of an experimental headstarting program, 45 juvenile Cuban iguanas were artificially incubated, maintained in captivity for six to 18 months, and subsequently released into natural areas on the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The authors describe the detailed screening process, and discuss the implications of their results for successful repatriation of captive-reared iguanas.]

Berger, J., and Cunningham, C.: Behavioural ecology in managed reserves: gender-based asymmetries in interspecific dominance in African elephants and rhinos. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 1 (1998), pp. 33–38. [As large-bodied mammals become restricted to progressively smaller fragments of former habitat, competitive interactions and interspecies aggression are likely to intensify. Data on the outcomes of 159 encounters between elephants and black rhinos revealed that: (1) female elephants dominated both sexes of black rhinos; and (2) rhino males, but not females, displaced elephant bulls. The results of an additional 127 interactions involving pachyderms and 12 additional mammals ranging in size from cheetah to giraffe indicate that females of either pachyderm deny immediate access to limited resources. Although the evolution of gender-specific asymmetries in interspecific dominance has received little formal study, it may best be explained by understanding patterns of parental investment; however, from a conservation perspective, one consequence of size-related dominance is that with continued containment of elephants and rhinos in managed reserves, the most handicapped species are likely to be the smaller ones.]

Franklin, I.R., and Frankham, R.: How large must populations be to retain evolutionary potential? Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 1 (1998), pp. 69–73. [Maintaining genetic variation for future evolutionary change is an important issue for conservation biology. However, there is controversy over the effective population size (Ne) required for endangered species to retain their evolutionary potential, with proposed sizes ranging from 500 to 5,000. The highest estimate is based on the assumption that 90% of mutations are deleterious. The authors review the arguments for an effective size of 5,000 and conclude that it assumes effective mutation rates that are too low, and heritabilities that are, in general, very high. We conclude that an Ne of 500–1,000 is appropriate at this time.]

Blumstein, D.T.: Female preferences and effective population size. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 3 (1998), pp. 173–177. [The author used simple models to illustrate how certain types of female mating preferences, combined with certain types of `condition-dependent' male traits, may lead to a sudden and substantial decrease in effective population size (Ne). Because the expression of such traits is likely to be impacted by natural or human-induced environmental changes, behavioral and conservation biologists should pay special attention to them around the mating season. Armed with knowledge of condition-dependent male traits, it may be possible to minimize the impact on them when planning translocations or reintroductions.]

Bustamante, J.: Use of simulation models to plan species reintroductions: the case of the bearded vulture in southern Spain. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 4 (1998), pp. 229–238. [The VORTEX computer program was used to evaluate the planned reintroduction project for Gypaetus barbatus. The minimum captive population needed to ensure the release of two fledglings per year is 30 individuals; if breeding success was improved, this minimum captive population could be reduced to ten. The current size of the captive population – four individuals – is not enough to start releases, even if the vultures were already breeding. The first step for the project should be to increase the size of the captive population. If on average one individual per year was added to the captive population, it would take 15 years to reach 30 individuals. If breeding in captivity was improved, it would take only three to seven years to reach the minimum captive population of ten individuals. Once releases were started, the project would need around 20 years to reach a goal of 15 adult pairs in the wild. Both the success of the project and the time necessary to reach this stated goal are very sensitive to the mortality rates in the wild. There is little known about these rates, and better estimates are urgently needed to improve the predictions of the models.]

Cheney, C.: The current situation of the Humboldt penguin in Chile and Peru: a report from the Population and Habitat Viability Analysis meeting, Part 1. Penguin Conservation Vol. 11, No. 3 (1998), pp. 4–9. [The total wild population was estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 (but this was before the recent severe El Niño of 1997–98, and the present colony sizes are not known). Based on current data, extinction is likely within 100 years; the primary causes are low reproductive success and the high rate of mortality due to entanglement in fishing nets. Human disturbance, even well-meaning (e.g. tourists), causes severe stress to this timid species and can effect breeding success.]

Cracraft, J., Feinstein, J., Vaughn, J., and Helm-Bychowski, K.: Sorting out tigers (Panthera tigris): mitochondrial sequences, nuclear inserts, systematics, and conservation genetics. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 2 (1998), pp. 139–150. [The authors present genetic evidence in support of the hypothesis that Sumatran tigers are diagnostically distinct from all mainland populations, and arguably form a distinct species. These findings emphasize the importance of doing more to conserve Sumatran tigers; as they are under-represented in zoos compared with Bengals and Siberians, an effort should be made to increase captive breeding stocks of Sumatrans. The fact that they are a distinct taxonomic entity relative to mainland populations can be used in educational programs to increase conservation efforts within Indonesia.]

Creel, S., and Creel, N.M.: Six ecological factors that may limit African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 1 (1998), pp. 1–9. [African wild dogs always live at low population densities relative to sympatric large carnivores, suggesting that there are basic ecological reasons for the species' endangered status. The authors examined the effects of intraspecific and interspecific competition, infectious diseases, foraging success, genetics and human activities, with data from the Selous Game Reserve, where there is a high density of wild dogs (associated with weak competition from lions and spotted hyenas), and comparisons with other populations. Across ecosystems, population density is negatively related to the intensity of competition with larger carnivores. Predation by lions and hyenas accounted for 13% of known-cause deaths in Selous and 33–50% in other populations. Intraspecific competition caused 69% of known-cause deaths in Selous, through infanticide and fights between packs, though most of the victims were juveniles with low reproductive value. Infectious diseases had little apparent impact in Selous (4% of deaths), but played a role in the extinction of a small population in Serengeti. Human activities caused 12% of deaths in Selous, even though it is large and does not border large human or livestock populations; humans were the major agent of mortality in some other populations. Foraging success varied little across ecosystems and was not apparently limiting. Mitochondrial DNA genotypes revealed clinal variation between Selous and distant populations (rather than geographically isolated subspecies, as previously suggested). All wild dog populations have a genetically effective size less than 500, so gene flow is necessary to maintain genetic diversity within populations, and in the long term translocations might be needed in most populations.]

de Wit, W.: Handopfok van een kuifseriema in Artis. (Hand-rearing of a crested seriema in Amsterdam Zoo.) De Harpij Vol. 17, No. 4 (1998), pp. 14–17. [Dutch, with English summary; see p. 45 of this issue of I.Z.N.]

Feijen, R.: Klauwbekapping bij een giraffe. (Hoof-trimming of a giraffe.) De Harpij Vol. 17, No. 4 (1998), pp. 2–5. [Dutch, with English summary; Emmen Zoo. See pp. 47–48 of this issue of I.Z.N.]

Field, D.: EEP Penguin TAG: 1997 Report and developments. Penguin Conservation Vol. 11, No. 3 (1998), pp. 15–17.

Field, D.: EEP Penguin banding survey 1997. Penguin Conservation Vol. 11, No. 3 (1998), pp. 18–19.

Frankham, R., and Franklin, I.R.: Response to Lynch and Lande. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 1 (1998), p. 73. [A brief reply to Lynch and Lande (see below).]

Howell, S., and Fritz, J.: Internet resources for primatologists. The Newsletter Vol. 10, No. 1/2 (1998), pp. 1–2.

Howell, S., Fritz, J., and Silvers, A.: `Party popper' tubes: an effective enrichment for adult captive chimpanzees. The Newsletter Vol. 10, No. 1/2 (1998), p. 3.

Komdeur, J., Kappe, A., and van de Zande, L.: Influence of population isolation on genetic variation and demography in Seychelles warblers: a field experiment. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 3 (1998), pp. 203–212. [Between 1959 and 1968 the entire world population of Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis) comprised only 26–29 individuals entirely confined to Cousin Island (26 ha). Through conservation actions the island population has reached a carrying capacity of c. 320 birds since 1982. The warbler population has significantly lower levels of genetic variation, as determined by multilocus DNA fingerprinting, compared with its mainland relative, the Australian warbler (A. australis) and other outbred natural bird populations, and has a very low annual reproductive rate of 0.28 yearlings per breeding pair. Therefore some degree of inbreeding may have occurred in this population. The relatively low level of genetic variation is not directly responsible for this low reproductive output, since breeding pairs that were transferred to the islands of Aride (68 ha) and Cousine (29 ha) with similar vegetation and climate, but with higher year-round insect food abundance, had significantly higher fecundity and survival. In contrast, no difference in reproductive success was observed between incestuous and non-incestuous breeding pairs. In addition, annual production of yearlings by pairs on Aride was on average 44 times higher than that by the same pairs on Cousin before the transfer. Annual production of yearlings by pairs on Cousine, that were as inbred as those on Aride, was on average five times higher than that by the same pairs on Cousin before the transfer. Eight years after translocation, the Aride population had grown to over 1,000 birds, and six years after translocation, the Cousine population had grown to 186 birds. The experiments showed that the differences in reproductive success by warblers on the three islands cannot be due to genetic differences, but seem entirely accounted for by differences in food supply. Although the amount of genetic variation in the Seychelles warblers is relatively low, the demographic parameters do not indicate apparent signs of inbreeding depression in these populations.]

Lynch, M., and Lande, R.: The critical effective size for a genetically secure population. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 1 (1998), pp. 70–72. [Argues against Franklin and Frankham (see above) that a target effective size should be in the region of 1,000–5,000.]

McFarland, N.: Mountain grown danfes – an organic approach to raising Himalayan monals. WPA News No. 57 (November 1998), pp. 44–51. [`Danfe' is Nepalese name for Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impeyanus); article continued from WPA News No. 56.]

McKinney, M.L.: Branching models predict loss of many bird and mammal orders within centuries. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 3 (1998), pp. 159–164. [The results of a basic `decay' model indicate that, if all threatened species in each order go extinct within the next 100 years, and this species extinction rate continues indefinitely, then half the species in most orders will disappear in a few hundred years or less. A more detailed `branching' model indicates that most bird and mammal orders will become 100% extinct in a few thousand years if current extinction trends are extrapolated.]

Rachlow, J.L., and Berger, J.: Reproduction and population density: trade-offs for the conservation of rhinos in situ. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 2 (1998), pp. 101–106. [The authors investigated the relationship between population density and reproduction in white rhinos in Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. Two lines of evidence were examined: (1) a contrast in reproduction between a high-density and a low-density population; and (2) a longitudinal analysis of changes in reproductive parameters of a fenced population as density increased by >200%. As density increased within the fenced area, the rates of population growth and recruitment of calves decreased, and the age at first reproduction for females increased significantly. Females in the low-density population produced their first calves at significantly younger ages than those in the high-density population. Loss of body condition was related to both population density and female reproductive status. Because most African rhinos exist in relatively small reserves, an understanding of the implications of restricted dispersal and increased population density on their demography is critical to their conservation in situ. Managers need to consider trade-offs between enhanced safety from poaching and density-dependent effects on reproduction in developing conservation strategies for rhinos and other rare, large species confined to reserve systems.]

Rooney, M.B., and Sleeman, J.: Effects of selected behavioral enrichment devices on behavior of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science Vol. 1, No. 4 (1998), pp. 339–351. [Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago. The authors evaluated the effects of some non-intrusive, inexpensive, and easily-managed devices on the behavior of a group of gorillas. Devices used included cardboard boxes containing food items, paper bags containing food items, burlap rags, and willow and maple browse. The devices increased foraging, social play, and solitary play behaviors. Sedentary behaviors decreased, but the incidence of regurgitation/reingestation or coprophagy did not statistically decrease. The effects on agonism and manipulation of enrichment items were variable.]

Saltz, D.: A long-term systematic approach to planning reintroductions: the Persian fallow deer and the Arabian oryx in Israel. Animal Conservation Vol. 1, No. 4 (1998), pp. 245–252. [The reintroductions of Dama dama mesopotamica and Oryx leucoryx in Israel rely on local breeding-cores that are currently at their holding capacity of 150 deer and 80 oryx. Computer simulation suggests a maximum sustained yield for the core population of deer of 15 adult females in the first year and 12 adult females per year thereafter; the corresponding figures for the oryx are 12 and 16. Project completion was preliminarily set to a wild population of 250 adult deer and 100 adult oryx. The simulations predict that it will take 8–11 years to complete the fallow deer reintroduction and 6–10 years to complete the oryx reintroduction.]

van Herk, R., and Peters, C.: Attractieparken en dierentuinen horen bij elkaar. (Attraction parks and zoos belong together.) De Harpij Vol. 17, No. 4 (1998), pp. 6–11. [Dutch, with English summary; Dolphinarium Harderwijk.]

Warner, D.A.: Overcrowding effects on larval red-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas). Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society Vol. 33, No. 10 (1998), pp. 212–214. [Cincinnati Zoo. Three clutches of eggs from wild-caught A. callidryas were laid on 1 June 1996, 33 of which successfully hatched on 7 June. Larvae were separated and raised under controlled conditions in three containers, each differing in tadpole density (five, ten or 18 tadpoles). Although this experiment was limited to a small sample size with an unreplicated design, it suggested tadpoles that develop earliest are smaller than those that develop later. This pattern was most apparent when tadpoles were raised in higher densities. Differences in metamorphic rate, snout–vent length and mass were statistically insignificant among the different densities.]

[Please note: Animal Conservation contains articles on many aspects of zoology; for reasons of space, only those most likely to be of direct relevance to zoos have been listed above. – Ed.]

Publishers of the periodicals listed:

Animal Conservation, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, U.K.

Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society, 2060 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60614, U.S.A.

De Harpij, Stichting De Harpij, Van Aerssenlaan 49, 3039 KE Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Subscription Department, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 10 Industrial Avenue, Mahwah, New Jersey 07430–2262, U.S.A.

The Newsletter, Primate Foundation of Arizona, P.O. Box 86, Tempe, Arizona 85280, U.S.A.

Penguin Conservation, 8060 Upper Applegate Road, Jacksonville, Oregon 97530, U.S.A.

WPA News, World Pheasant Association, P.O. Box 5, Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire RG8 9PF, U.K.