International Zoo News Vol. 46/2 (No. 291) March 1999

OBITUARY – Dr Werner Heuschele 66


Three Zoos in Mexico

Ken Kawata 68

Husbandry and Management of the Naked Mole-rat

Christopher Kibbey 75

Introducing Male Ring-tailed Lemurs

Varvara A. Meshik 86

Incubation, Feeding and Growth of Indian Rock Pythons

N. Baskar, N. Krishnakumar and A. Manimozhi 90

The Karoo Receives Plains Zebras from the Quagga Project

David Barnaby 94

Book Reviews 100

Annual Report 107

International Zoo News 113

Recent Articles 126

Cover Illustration: A Quagga Project mare with her daughter. (Photo: David Barnaby)


Werner Heuschele, 1929–1999

The director of the Zoological Society of San Diego's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), Dr Werner Heuschele, died in a San Diego hospital on 1 February at the age of 69. The cause of death was cancer, which recently forced him to take a leave of absence, during which Andy Phillips has served as acting director of CRES.

In the course of a 50-year career in the service of wild animals, Dr Heuschele worked as – among others – a veterinary clinician, pathologist, diagnostician, field researcher and professor. The author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, he was internationally recognised as an authority on infectious diseases of animals. As director of CRES for the last 12 years, he pioneered studies in malignant catarrhal fever, a fatal disease of ruminants, and was one of two scientists who developed a serum test to identify animals carrying the disease. He also conducted extensive research into infant animal diarrhoea, as a result of which infant mortality at San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park was greatly reduced.

Born in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Werner Heuschele emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of two. As a child living near San Diego, he was a regular visitor to the zoo, and in 1947 he began working there as a driver-guide on a zoo bus. With the encouragement of zoo directors Belle Benchley and Charles Schroeder, he went on to graduate with honours from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, in 1956, after which he joined the zoo as a veterinarian and manager of the zoo hospital.

In 1961 Dr Heuschele left San Diego to work as a research veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he helped to develop diagnostic techniques for such diseases as African swine fever, and later headed a research team that developed vaccines to immunize livestock against cattle respiratory disease. Other jobs followed, including a five-year spell teaching at Ohio State University, before he finally returned to San Diego in 1981 to work with CRES as a microbiologist and virologist, becoming the Center's director in 1986. His expertise in malignant catarrhal disease led both the livestock industry and zoos throughout the U.S.A. to seek his advice. The disease, often carried by wildebeest, once wiped out the Wild Animal Park's entire herd of Père David's deer, as well as other animals. After these deaths, the Zoo and Park stopped breeding wildebeest for several years, and removed from the captive herd any animals who tested positive for the disease.

Dr Heuschele is survived by his wife Carole, two sons, three daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Nicholas Gould



Mexico has a rich history of zoos dating back centuries (e.g. Rybot, 1972), a tradition which is still maintained today. In July 1998 I was fortunate enough to be sent to Durango, to attend a bi-national Mexican wolf conference. The Mexican host recommended that U.S. delegates first arrive at Mexico City and tour both city zoos, before transferring to Durango. Most of us took the suggestion and visited zoos on 20 July, which happened to be a Monday, the day both zoos are closed to the public. This meant that we had the zoos all to ourselves, and did not face the huge crowds that they are well-known for. Zoo directors, Dr David Mayén Mena of Zoológico de Chapultepec (Chapultepec), and Dr Juan Carlos Ortega Saez of Zoológico de San Juan de Aragón (Aragón), and their staff were hospitable, giving us tours and making arrangements to transfer us between the airport and zoos.

The group first visited Aragón, which is an eight-minute drive from the Benito Juarez International Airport, on the opposite side of Chapultepec Park. The younger of the two zoos, Aragón was constructed within a matter of four months, and opened to the public in 1964 in a 37-hectare lot, about 60 per cent of which has thus far been developed for animal exhibits. The grounds give an impression of a zoo in a eucalyptus grove. The annual attendance of this zoo is two million; on the day before our visit, a Sunday, it had 30,000 visitors. In spite of heavy public visitation on the previous day, at 10.30 a.m. the grounds were spotlessly clean.

The definite impression is that the zoo has a great deal of potential for future development. Just like other growing zoos, Aragón presents a combination of old-style `cages' and a more open, spacious and naturalistic exhibit system. The former is represented by primate exhibits, consisting of `hard' metal barriers, coupled with concrete walls and floors. Also in this category are medium- to small-sized mammal facilities, concrete structures with moated exhibits radiating out from the off-scene areas and night quarters. Some bird exhibits are also represented by wire mesh `runs', a series of small exhibit units in a row. Changes are being made, however, across the zoo. In some sterile mammal exhibits, concrete floors have been broken up, replaced with soil and live plants, with an addition of furniture, such as logs and pools. Also evident was an introduction of much larger living spaces for animals. Huge, grass-covered moated enclosures have been built for bears and spider monkeys.

The newer exhibit concept was also noted in hoofed stock paddocks. Some are quite large and moated. Also noticeable was the world-wide practice in zoos of providing a generous space for more popular, crowd-pleasing mammals, such as lions, tigers, hippopotami and elephants. The sea lion pool was also huge for a small number of animals. Another tendency was the large number of domesticated stock, both in terms of species and specimens. For example I counted roughly 20 llama in one pen, and there were more pens for them. On the wildlife conservation front, the Aragón lineage, one of the three lineages in the population of Mexican wolves (Kawata, 1997), originated in the two zoos in Mexico City. The U.S. delegates paid close attention to the off-scene husbandry facility in Aragón, and we found it superior to many counterparts in U.S. institutions. Overall, animals appeared in good health, and graphics depict basic information on the natural history of the species.

After two hours of the tour covering about 70 per cent of the zoo, we realized that time was running out. Director Dr Ortega assured us that the collection in the remaining part of the zoo consisted of ordinary hoofed stock, such as nilgai and llama. Since more foreign zoo colleagues probably visit Chapultepec, a well-established institution, I will try to highlight the species that I saw on exhibit at Aragón, excluding domestic species. These, however, represent a partial list and by no means constitute the zoo's complete animal inventory; the zoo was closed, some animals were in holding areas (such as the 0.2 Asian elephants that I was told the zoo had) or in night quarters, and besides, I may have missed a few species.

Three spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi – dark), 2 pig-tailed macaque, 1 rhesus macaque, 10+ hamadryas baboon, 1 vervet monkey, 11 patas monkey (breeding group), 2.0 chimpanzee, 1 Patagonian cavy, 11 Mexican wolf, 3 coyote (dark), 6 grey fox, 7 raccoon, 4 coati, 1.1 jaguarundi (the male was large and dark, while the female, a former household pet, was small and brown), 4 puma, 2 bobcat, 1 leopard, 1 tiger, 1.1 lion, 2 California sea lion, 1.2 white rhinoceros (0.1 was born here), 5 (?) hippopotamus, a herd of fallow deer, 1.1 sika deer (dark), 1.0 wapiti, 1.1.1 giraffe, 1.4 nilgai, 1.0 bison, 3.8 waterbuck, 5 brindled gnu, a herd of aoudad, 1.0 Andean condor, 7 red-tailed hawk, 5 Harris' hawk, 1 golden eagle, 6 caracara, 2 collared forest falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus – my first), silver pheasant, purple gallinule, American coot, a group of white-winged dove, 1 barn owl, 4 great horned owl, a breeding pair of burrowing owl, a group of conures, 4 crow, an assortment of turtles, 3 Morelet's crocodile.

Soon we were off to Chapultepec Park, a large park some six km west of the airport which includes many museums and a botanical garden, in addition to the zoo. Mexico City's two zoos are managed as one administrative unit by the city under one director, to whom both zoo directors report. The two zoos have a few things in common; neither charges an admission fee, grounds are level and – being blessed with a mild climate – almost all exhibits are in out-of-door settings. However, the similarity soon comes to an end, but the two zoos complement each other. Aragón presents a park-like atmosphere, low-key and laid back, and the exhibits are spread out. In stark contrast Chapultepec, which occupies a smaller area (14 ha), is decidedly urban; the skyscrapers in the surrounding area are reminiscent of Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Opened in 1923, the zoo was celebrating its 75th anniversary. A massive renovation, which took two years, was completed three years ago. The zoo retains huge trees, which add a nice touch to the ambience. Every square meter of the public area is paved, and landscaping shows maximum efficiency; trees, shrubs and grass are meticulously manicured to perfection. Also, visitors do not see even one piece of wire sticking out of an animal exhibit, or anywhere. I found no clue as to what this zoo used to look like before the one big swipe of renovation.

The `new' zoo presents itself as a cohesive unit, and there exists a sense of consistency throughout its grounds. The renovation must have brought about a rebirth of the zoo. Basically designed by a team of Mexican architects, the overall theme focuses on biomes, such as tropical rainforest, temperate zone and desert. Bird exhibits are assembled in an isolated area, as are the snakes, who occupy a building which represents one of the few indoor exhibits. Under each biome there is a group of exhibit units, connected by winding walkways. In fact, very few public walkways are in a straight line. As a visitor stands in front of each exhibit unit, there is an impression of separation from the rest, which allows the visitor to concentrate on viewing. The animal space is well equipped with plants, rocks, logs and the like. Extensive use of glass partitions permits the zoo to bring animals closer to the public. Lush, green plants are utilized to the full extent, both in and out of the exhibits. Artificial rockwork is utilized discreetly in the moat and divider walls. Holding facilities are often concealed sensibly. Another fine feature of the zoo is the use of graphics, explaining not only each species but also the themes. Overall, the exhibitry is favorably impressive, representing an application of modern methods to a higher level.

In terms of animal collection, the zoo has major representatives of the `basic stock'. Gorilla, chimpanzee, orang-utan, lion, tiger, bear, elephant, rhino, hippo and giraffe are strategically spread out. One of the animals that caught my eye was the volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi), which has been a feature of this institution for some time (Hoth and Granados, 1987). The colony appeared to be thriving well. Interestingly, some common animals that are considered to be `nuisance species' in the U.S., such as raccoon, coyote and Canada goose, were given generously large areas in attractive exhibit settings. A surprised American delegate commented that the zoo had `the best raccoon exhibit' she had ever seen. In the middle of the tour we noted it was close to 3 p.m., and the tight schedule did not allow us to stay.

After the wolf conference in Durango I returned to Mexico City on 25 July, and went back to Chapultepec to finish the zoo tour. The bird section, which I missed during the first visit, appeared to form an entity all by itself, separated from the rest of the zoo. Chapultepec Zoo's grounds are well developed and quite compact, but that does not mean that animal living quarters are tight and crowded. In fact, given the limited available land, spacious enclosures are allocated for birds. A good example is a large walk-through aviary, with multi-level viewing for visitors and various sight barriers for birds. Security personnel were stationed at the entrance and exit. Some other aviaries are also immensely tall and large; an extensive use of piano wire and welded wire mesh was noted. Speaking of birds, strangely enough the ubiquitous feral pigeon or rock dove (Columba livia), one of the persistent urban nuisances, was not seen on the zoo grounds. (Later, in the heart of Mexico City's historic center, I found out that this absence was not limited to the zoo. At Zocalo, a huge square, I had the pleasant surprise of having difficulty finding pigeons; they were there, but in amazingly small numbers.)

Chapultepec Zoo is well known for the huge crowds. The annual attendance is said to be eight million; on the previous Sunday (19 July) 80,000 visited the zoo. They say that a wall of people blocks the view of the famous giant pandas. On my second visit on a Saturday, the crowd was rolling in late in the morning. However, at 12.30 p.m. I was able to watch the giant pandas easily; the staff told us that the zoo had four (1.3), and on that Saturday three were on exhibit (none of them was asleep!). As usual, a security guard was stationed by the exhibit. A visitor immediately notices the presence of the security personnel. At practically every corner there is a guard, in neat uniform and standing, not idly but watching. That may explain, at least partially, why I saw not even one visitor throwing food or any other object at animals. The visitors seemed almost all Mexican citizens, in small groups such as families and dating young people. They do not throw trash, and if they did, it would be taken care of. The McDonald's hamburger chain has conquered the world, evidenced by several stands in this zoo. Near the end of the tour I purchased a chicken sandwich for lunch, and sat down at a picnic table. Being clumsy, I spilled a small piece or two of fried potato. Immediately a senorita appeared out of nowhere, to sweep them from under the table. No wonder the grounds are spotlessly clean. Surprised, I raised both feet, to which she politely responded, `Gracias.'

While at the wolf conference I met with Mexican colleagues, and began to realize that there are more zoos in this country than an outsider would expect, just as Schwitzer (1998) noted in Brazil. After all, Mexico ranks 14th in size among the world's nations, with an estimated population of 95,000,000. Having five zoos listed in the International Zoo Yearbook (Olney and Fisken, 1995), does not seem all that much. This is not meant to be a criticism against the I.Z.Y.; it simply illustrates a part of the monumental task of keeping track of all the zoos of the world. Among the delegates at the conference was Frank Carlos Camacho from Africam Safari in Puebla, an establishment not listed in the Yearbook. He said that this park, which is a one hour and 20 minute drive from the Mexico City airport, has an annual attendance of 1.2 million, employs 330 workers and has a collection which includes 650 species of mammals and birds. Some of the delegates were treated to an impressive guide book of his park. Another zoo not in the I.Z.Y. list was within walking distance from the conference host, Instituto de Ecología in Durango.

On 24 July, biologist Dr Jorge Servin of the Instituto took me to Zoológico Sahuatoba, a municipal facility which was opened in 1977 on a busy highway, Boulevard del Castillo. Eucalyptus trees were prevalent throughout the seven-hectare grounds. The style of animal housing, represented mostly by wire-mesh cages and fenced-in enclosures, was reminiscent of zoos in Panama, in both the City and the old Canal Zone. It was apparent that within its various limits, they have made an effort to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants. Earth, grass and trees were replacing sterile concrete floors. Some of the hoofed stock pens were quite large. Also, the practice of providing generously large areas for `crowd pleasers', such as large felids and bears, was noted in this zoo. Signage was generally good, depicting basic information on natural history, including distribution, reproduction and longevity.

As in Mexico City, there is no admission fee for this zoo. It appeared that visitors were allowed to ride bicycles on the grounds. Some large trees were neatly trimmed, giving a park-like atmosphere. Other U.S. delegates for the wolf conference, who visited this facility on another occasion, took interest in the large open enclosure for spider monkeys. This exhibit also caught my attention. It was in the center of the zoo, circled by low strands of electric wire. Inside the enclosure were eucalyptus trees, climbing apparatus, rope and wooden houses. At least eight Ateles geoffroyi were seen in the enclosure; they were very active and some of them were near the top of tall eucalyptus trees.

What follows is the list of animals I noted on exhibit, and as usual I have skipped domesticated species. The list by no means represents the entire inventory; chances are I may have missed a few species. Eight spider monkey (A. geoffroyi), 1.1 hamadryas baboon, 1.3.2 coyote, 1 grey fox, 1 raccoon, 1 coati, 1 kinkajou, 1 grizzly bear, 1 American black bear, 1 bobcat, 1 jaguar, 1.1 lion, 10 collared peccary, 1 hippopotamus (with a llama in the same enclosure), 2 guanaco, 1.2 white-tailed deer, 3 brindled gnu, 1.1 blackbuck, 0.2 ostrich, 2 black vulture, 11 red-tailed hawk, 1 Harris' hawk, 2 golden eagle, 1 bald eagle, 3 caracara, 2 barn owl, 9 great horned owl, 5 military macaw, 7 red-lored amazon, 1 raven.

After the tour Dr Servin introduced me to the director, Leticia Matuk Palacios. We sat in her office, and thanks to the translation by Dr Servin, I was able to chat with her. Ms Matuk said that the young adult bald eagle in the zoo was first found in a factory near Durango with an injured wing, possibly by gunshot. The bird came to the zoo about a year ago, and she thought that it was the sole representative of its species in Mexican zoos. The conversation then shifted to the ever-confusing topic of spider monkey taxonomy. She said that the founders of the group in her zoo were collected in at least three different locations. According to her, there is an embryonic program to organize information and give some directions concerning spider monkeys kept in four zoos, namely in Durango, Puebla (Africam Safari), Guadalajara and Monterrey. This is welcome news indeed, considering the confusing taxonomic status of this genus in so many zoo collections.

Even though this was a brief trip, it constituted a delightful introduction to the zoo circle in my `south of the border' neighbor nation. I recommend visiting this country at any opportunity, to meet with friendly people, and to see what their zoos offer to the international zoo world.


Hoth, J., and Granados, H. (1987): A preliminary report on the breeding of the volcano rabbit Romerolagus diazi at the Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City. International Zoo Yearbook 26: 261–265.

Kawata, K. (1997): Return of El Lobo: a recovery program coming of age. I.Z.N. 44 (5): 259–270.

Olney, P.J.S., and Fisken, F.A. (1995): Zoos and aquariums of the world – Mexico. International Zoo Yearbook 34: 292–293.

Rybot, D. (1972): It Began Before Noah. Michael Joseph, London.

Schwitzer, C. (1998): Some impressions of Brazilian zoos. I.Z.N. 45 (4): 191–201.

Ken Kawata, Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway, Staten Island, New York 10310, U.S.A.

European Elephant Keeper and Manager Association

The European Elephant Keeper and Manager Association (EEKMA) was founded early in 1998 to create a platform for elephant keepers and to represent their interests, to develop Europe-specific elephant management concepts, to improve reproductive efforts, to support training programmes and continued education for elephant keepers, to promote the need for species preservation through research and to be active in the field of public education. It now has more than 100 members in Europe, as well as a few in the U.S.A., Australia and South Africa. A quarterly newsletter, Elephant Journal, is published in both German and English editions.

An important recent development is that EEKMA, the Elephant Managers Association in the U.S.A. and the Elephant Management and Owners Association in South Africa have collaborated to establish an information platform, the Global Elephant Network (GEM).

Membership fees for 1999 are as follows: Full member DM 35; Associate member DM 30; Institutions DM 50; Supporting members DM 200. For further information, please contact: Harald M. Schwammer, c/o Schönbrunn Zoo, Maxingstrasse 13b, A-1130 Vienna, Austria (Tel.: +43 1 877 9294–66; Fax: +43 1 877 9641; E-mail:




The naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), a rodent of the mole-rat or blesmol family (Bathyergidae), is found in central and eastern Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya (Partridge, 1996). The head and body length is between 80 and 92 mm, tail length is between 28 and 44 mm, and weight between 30 and 80 g (Nowak, 1991). They live in an underground system consisting of a web-like network of tunnels, which are dug in the search for the underground tubers and roots which make up the mole-rats' diet. Contained within this network are communal toilet and nest chambers. They rarely come above ground, almost the only visible evidence of their existence being heaps of excavated soil, known as molehills.

These animals are extremely social – so social, in fact, that their lifestyle has been compared with that of insects such as bees and termites. In the wild, colonies can easily contain between 40 and 90 individuals (Faulkes, 1991). Surprisingly, though, only one female in a colony breeds – the queen – and only two or three males will mate with her. Other females in the group have their ovarian cycles suppressed (Faulkes, 1991) – it is believed, by pheromones in the queen's urine, which is passed on to other individuals in the communal latrine.

Every individual in the colony has a role – the small non-breeders are `workers', and their chores include digging new tunnels, keeping the tunnels clean, and looking for food. As the individuals get older, and therefore larger, they work less, and may become non-workers, staying mainly in the communal nest. Some individuals, however, when they have reached full size, will defend the colony, heading for any disturbances in the system and attacking any predators (such as snakes) with their large front incisors. These individuals will actually plug a tunnel with their bodies, showing a wall of teeth, which is enough to see off any hungry snake.

There seems to be a set breeding system, and births occur between February and April. Providing the first litter survives, the queen will not breed again in that year; if it does not, however, she will breed again (Nowak, 1991). Litter sizes average ten young, but it is not unknown for a queen to give birth to as many as 20. The gestation period is between 75 and 80 days. Worker mole-rats will bring food to the pups, keep them warm and carry them off to safety in the case of danger. Young mole-rats mature at a slow rate, their eyes not opening for a few weeks. They do not reach adult size for about a year. They are weaned at between one and two months, at which time they become members of the `working class'. Life expectancy in the wild is not known, but captive individuals have been known to live for at least 15 years (Faulkes, 1991).


Artificial tunnel systems have proved to be the most successful housing for captive H. glaber. Several different methods are used world-wide, but the following description is based on the most popular.

The tunnel system should be constructed from 3-mm perspex or glass tubes, having an internal diameter of at least 40 mm and an overall length of at least 10 metres of interconnecting tubes. The tubes should be connected with a combination of `T' pieces, `L' pieces and cross-shaped joints, each of which should fit snugly over the tubes (i.e. with an internal diameter of 46 mm). Stoppers (pieces of tubing with an end blocked off) are also important for blocking off sections of the system for maintenance and cleaning. These should be of two sizes, one size to fit inside the tubes (40 mm diameter) and the other for fitting into box entrances (46 mm).

To simulate the nest chambers and latrines, perspex or glass boxes should be used, and boxes will also be needed for `feeding boxes', in which the animals' food will be offered. The boxes, and any connectors that are constructed, will have to be fixed using a very strong, non-toxic clear adhesive, as the mole-rats are likely to chew and scratch at any corners with their teeth.

The boxes need to have lids to allow easy removal and replacing of food and substrate. These lids are also made of clear perspex for easier viewing, and have clusters of six 3-mm holes drilled in them to reduce condensation in the tunnels. The lids also have an aluminium ring on them, which is filled with plaster; this prevents the mole-rats from pushing them off. The lids must be well-fitting, but easily removable to cause as little disturbance to the colony as possible. Whatever material is used, it must be remembered that these animals are persistent chewers, and may chew through some materials easily.

Mole-rats prefer to be crowded and huddle in nest chambers, so the chambers will not be large, though the sizes may need to be increased as the colony grows. The following measurements refer to our colony at Bristol Zoo, which consists of 29 adults. The average sizes of our boxes are as follows: nest chambers, 250 mm by 200 mm by 150 mm high, and feeding boxes and latrine, 120 mm by 120 mm by 120 mm high. Mole-rats have been observed to select a box with only one entrance as a latrine, so this should be placed at one end of the system. The other boxes should have several entrances.

Wood shavings or cleaned sand should be used in the system. A small covering in each of the chambers/boxes, to a depth of about 20 mm, should be sufficient. The animals will use this for sleeping in and will kick it around the tubes, thereby cleaning them. It is important that the shavings contain no fungicides or other chemicals that could harm the animals, as they may well eat some of the shavings.

The system at Bristol Zoo is mostly made up of perspex, with the tubes that the public can see being made of glass. This was decided both for cost efficiency and in the belief that the glass tubes would be easier to keep clean, and would stand up to the mole-rats' teeth much better, therefore making viewing easier. Above the glass tubes, small light bulbs are positioned to illuminate the animals. Mole-rats can sense changes in light intensity, but become accustomed to constant levels.

The system is housed in an air-tight room, with a heater that maintains a constant temperature of between 28° C and 31° C. A ceramic heat lamp is situated above the nest chamber which is most commonly used, as the mole-rats prefer to huddle under concentrations of heat. The whole system is on three levels supported on shelves, and stands against a glass window, with a 5-mm gap to cut down vibrations. On the public side of the window, a structure has been made of plaster, which only shows part of the tunnel system and information signs; it is as if a section of the ground has been cut away to reveal some of the tunnels. The plaster is painted a mud/earthen colour.

In the wild, H. glaber will shift large amounts of soil in the process of digging new tunnels. A device was therefore incorporated into the design of Bristol Zoo's system which gave the mole-rats the opportunity to move sand around if they wanted to. The `sand hopper' feeds sand into the system, allowing the animals to either expel it via a `molehill' (as they would normally do in the wild) or have the impression that they are kicking it along their tunnel system.

The molehill is situated at the end of a length of tubing, which ends at a right angle and has a perspex triangle in the angular corner (to make expelling the sand easier). The very end of the tubing has a piece of 5-mm diameter wire mesh fixed to it to prevent the animals escaping. The molehill is constructed from plaster and coated with sand into a `volcano' shape. Any sand that is expelled from the system falls down the side of the molehill and through a slit at the base. If the mole-rats decide to move the sand in the opposite direction, along their system, they come to a length of perspex tubing with a slit about 10 mm wide cut in the bottom; a sheet of 5-mm diameter mesh is then wrapped and fixed around the piece of tubing, allowing the mole-rats to walk along the tube but preventing any sand from being passed into the main system. All the expelled sand is collected in boxes and returned to the hopper, being sieved first to remove any wood shavings that get into it.

The sand hopper has proved to be very successful and is used on a regular basis throughout the day. Observations have shown that the mole-rats normally attempt to push sand into their system rather than expelling it. They have been seen to empty the sand container – which has a capacity of about two litres – in the course of a single day or less. In the wild, it would normally be just the smaller, worker colony members that would dig tunnels, and this has also been proved to be true in our captive colony – observations have shown that the majority of individuals shifting sand are medium-sized or small.

Where lengths of tubing are connected, either to angled connectors or to nest chambers, small pieces of perspex have been fixed to the outside of the tubing to make reconstruction of the system easier. If the pieces are fixed after the system is originally constructed, so that they fit closely to the connectors or nest chambers, this is a guide to how far certain tubes should be inserted, and thus provides an accurate way of re-building the system if it has to be dismantled for any reason. It will also stop tubes from falling from connectors or being pushed out by the animals.

Where connectors are situated, blocks of wood about 10 mm thick are fixed to the shelving underneath them, with small screws inserted in the wood and elastic bands connected to the screws to hold the connectors in place. Wooden supports are also used throughout the system for holding the tubes at desired heights and angles.

To allow the mole-rats to travel between levels in the system, long angled pieces of tubing are used. The slopes should not be too steep, or the animals will have trouble travelling up them; at Bristol Zoo, the tubes were set at about 45° , but the mole-rats still found them difficult to go up. We therefore sanded down the tubes with rough sandpaper to give the animals more of a grip. This has proved to work well, and whenever the mole-rats seem to be struggling, the tube is revolved about 90° , giving them a new surface. The roughness will eventually wear down and the tubes will have to be re-sanded.

Figure 1. The naked mole-rat tunnel system at Bristol Zoo (not to scale).


As mentioned earlier, wood shavings or sand should be used in the chambers/boxes of the system, to a depth of about 20 mm. The mole-rats will pass the material along the system, thereby keeping the tunnels clean.

As the naked mole-rat is such a communal animal, any diseases will spread extremely rapidly through the system if they have a chance to enter it. Therefore, hands should be scrubbed, or sterile surgical gloves worn, before any work is done in the system, and if working with more than one colony, gloves should be changed or hands re-scrubbed between colonies. The chambers should be cleaned daily, any uneaten food and soiled material being removed and replaced with fresh, clean shavings. But it is important that not all of the soiled material should be removed from the latrine. This material will contain the queen's urine and therefore her pheromones, and removing all of it might cause conflicts between females.

Naked mole-rats are very clean animals, so thorough cleaning of the system is not required very frequently. When it is done, the mole-rats should be either caught up or sectioned off into one area of the system, and the empty areas completely dismantled and disinfected (at Bristol Zoo we use a disinfectant called TriGene). When disinfecting is done, a small amount of the latrine waste should be saved and put back after cleaning.

Correct feeding of the mole-rats is very important, and the secret of maintaining healthy colonies is to give them a varied diet (Sherman et al., 1991). The diet varies considerably between countries, but it is best to feed them on the food that they have been used to, as mole-rats are prone to Escherichia coli infections, which can kill an entire colony. At Bristol Zoo, we feed them on sweet potato, apple, banana (peeled), carrot, lettuce, sweet corn and Mothers Recipe organic wholemeal cereal baby food. This is the diet used by the Institute of Zoology in London; we obtained our animals from them, so we have kept to the same diet. The range of foods in other countries may be greater, so the diets will vary. In some North American institutions, mole-rats receive such food items as yam, `rat chow', kale, sugar cane, parsnip, turnip and grapes.

Before we feed our animals, all the food is soaked in Milton sterilizing liquid for half an hour, then washed thoroughly to remove any bacteria which could harm the animals. Again, not all institutions do this, but it is a good idea to carry on with whatever routine has been successful with the mole-rats in the past. It is important that not too much vitamin D or calcium is provided in the diet, as this could cause calcification of body tissues (Faulkes, pers. comm., 1997). Free water does not need to be provided, as the mole-rats will obtain all the water they require from their food, as they would in the wild.

Humidity is very important for these animals, and the heat of the room combined with the high water content of the food should maintain a high level. In the wild, humidity would be more than 80%, but in captivity this level would cause condensation in the tubes, so between 50% and 65% relative humidity is adequate (Sherman et al., 1991). Without high humidity, the animals' skin can dry out and cause severe problems with skin flaking.

Mole-rats are very sensitive to vibrations, so noise levels should be kept to a minimum. In some institutions, constant levels of noise are maintained (often in the form of rock music). The mole-rats will eventually become habituated to the noise and therefore will react a lot less to sudden noises in the system or from the public.

If any individuals are removed or escape from the colony, it can be difficult to return them, and they may even be killed by other colony members. Jarvis (Sherman et al., 1991) suggests rolling the escapees in the latrine waste, but admits that this does not always work. It is then necessary to catch the whole colony and put them into a container for about half an hour, along with the escapee. Usually there is so much excitement that the individual is ignored and gets a chance to pick up the colony's odours. There is rarely any aggression once the individuals are returned to the system.


The queen will mate with one of two or three males and will give birth between 75 and 80 days later to up to 10 pups or more. The pups will remain in the main nest chamber, being fed a couple of times a day by the queen. Observations have shown that the oldest, largest adults remain in the nest chamber for most of the time, protecting the pups and carrying them off if there are any disturbances.

At the time of parturition, the colony should be disturbed as little as possible, and the main nest chamber entered as rarely as possible. Frequent disturbance will cause the pups to be carried off too frequently, therefore not allowing them to receive their required amount of feeds and causing them to get trampled on in the tubes. The pups are suckled by the queen for one to two months, after which they are weaned onto the primary faeces of the adults, which they will beg for in the nest chamber (Partridge, 1996). After the pups are weaned, they will join the workers, cleaning tubes and gathering food.

Mehrdadfar (1996) states that a general pattern has emerged relating to mole-rat litters. Colonies successfully rear two or three litters, but fail to rear subsequent litters. Reasons for the failure could include the queen failing to lie still long enough for the pups to suckle, or increased aggression from colony members. At this stage, hand-rearing may be desirable.

Successful hand-rearing only occurs with pups of ten days or older. A standard milk substitute (for human babies) is used and a minute quantity of yeast and vitamin syrup is added. Cotton wool is twisted around a toothpick and the tip dipped into the solution. The tip is then inserted into the pup's mouth, at which point it should suck vigorously. The milk is visible through the skin of the pup. After the pup is full, the anal region is rubbed to stimulate urination and defecation. The pups can be returned to the tunnel system and only removed for feeding (Sherman et al., 1991). As they are only removed for a short period, returning them to the colony should cause no problem.

Since we received our colony, on 1 July 1996, the queen has produced two litters. The first litter was born on 12 October 1996 and consisted of only five pups. Three died after five days, one after six days, and the last after ten days. The reasons for the death of the pups are not known. Aggression against them was not extraordinarily high, and the pups were observed feeding on numerous occasions.

On 1 January 1997 a second litter was born, which consisted of nine individuals. One died on the second day, one after five days and three after six days, but the remaining four pups have survived. This time the pups were seen feeding on more occasions, and the milk was visible through their skin, which it had not been with the previous litter. The pups were observed at half-hourly intervals, and after day 49 they were not seen suckling again. After day 38, they were observed eating solids (sweet potato and carrot). They were also observed eating the faeces from adults on numerous occasions. Regular observation of these pups was stopped after about 65 days, as it was agreed that it was no longer necessary – they were beginning to act in a similar way to the adults, running along the tunnels and eating solids regularly.

Identifying individuals

There are basically three different types of adult mole-rat – the breeding female (queen), non-workers and workers, and each type has a slightly different appearance. The queen is longer than any other colony member and has two rows of distinctive nipples. A non-worker will usually be nearly as large as the queen but has no nipples, and the workers are the smallest.

Sexing mole-rats can be difficult as the genital areas of both sexes are similar. There is, however, a slight difference: the vagina in `non-queen' females appears as a dark red line between the two openings, which is sometimes clearer if moistened with water (see the sketch, Figure 2).

Figure 2. Genital organs of female and male naked mole-rats.

Three different artificial methods are used for identifying individual mole-rats: transponders, tattoos and toe clips. Toe clips seem to be the most commonly used method, so I will concentrate on this. The rear toes only are clipped (part of the toe is removed), and each toe has a standard numeric value (1, 2, 4, 7, 10, 20, 40 and 70). A maximum of two toes are clipped on each foot. Each mole-rat has its own four digit number; the first digit corresponds to the colony number, and the last three digits correspond to the sum of the numbers of the clipped toes.

Observations of the queen's movements

As the queen is the only easily distinguishable individual in the colony, I decided to find out how much time she spends in different parts of the tunnel system. I observed her at intervals of one minute for half an hour, noting where she was at the end of each minute. I was able to carry out this observation in eight separate half-hour periods; most of these were in the afternoon, but as mole-rats' activity is not affected by the time of day, I do not think this invalidates the results.

The percentage of the total time spent in the different locations was as follows (all figures are rounded to nearest whole number; percentages in brackets show the minimum and maximum scores for single half-hour periods):

Main nest chamber: 51% (3%–71%);

Tunnels: 39% (23%–87%);

Feeding boxes: 5% (0%–9%);

Sand hopper: 4% (0%–16%);

Latrine: 2% (0%–7%);

Other nest chambers: 1% (0%–3%).

These results show that the queen spends most of her time in the main nest chamber, but also a considerable amount of time in the tunnels. I consider this to be completely normal, as she will usually spend her day either sleeping or patrolling the tunnel system. I was quite surprised to find that she spent five per cent of her time in the feeding boxes, as I had always thought that food would be brought to her in the main nest chamber.

Even though the queen spent four per cent of her time in the sand hopper area, she never participated in the moving of sand. I therefore conclude that on these occasions she merely happened to be patrolling that part of the tunnel system.

Mole-rats in other institutions

I was interested in comparing the methods used by other institutions which keep naked mole-rats; so I sent a total of 15 questionnaires to different institutions (14 of which were in the U.S.A.) and received nine back. Following are the questions and some collated answers. (Please note that some of the answers were so detailed that collation of them was not possible.)

How many colonies of naked mole-rats do you have? The total number of colonies from all institutions is 25. Most institutions only hold one or two colonies, with one institution holding 12 colonies.

How many animals are there in a colony? Numbers ranged considerably, from two to over 60, but the average was about 30–40 individuals.

Are they on public view? Of the nine institutions asked, seven have colonies on show. Three of these seven have colonies both on and off show.

Have you had any success with breeding on show? All seven of the institutions housing colonies on show have had breeding success, i.e. a 100% success rate!

Have you had any success with breeding off show? Of the five institutions housing colonies off show, four have had breeding success.

Do you have any problems with the public disturbing the colony? Three of the seven institutions claim that they do experience such problems. They combat this by playing rock music or white noise constantly in the mole-rat area. In fact, every institution exhibiting mole-rats on show has some form of constant noise in the area.

Do you find that the exhibit is popular with the public? Six out of the seven institutions displaying mole-rats on show say that the exhibit is popular; the other one says that some people enjoy it but some do not.

Do you clean the food before feeding it to the mole-rats? If so, how? Five institutions do not clean food before offering it to the animals, three wash it with water, and only one soaks the food in water containing sterilizing tablets.

What do you feed them? As mentioned earlier, the diet varies between institutions, but the majority of the American ones feed their mole-rats on `mole-rat balls', which are a 50:50 mixture of ground rodent pellets and baby cereal, mixed with water and formed into balls.

How do you identify individuals? Four institutions do not have a way of identifying individuals, one uses transponder chips, one uses toe-clips, one uses toe clips and tattoos, and the remaining two use toe clips and transponder chips.

How do they react to sound and light? All institutions claim that the mole-rats are affected by sudden noises, usually scattering, but no institution claims that they are much affected by light, other than intense light directed straight at them.

Assessing the data received from the various institutions, it would seem likely that successfully exhibiting a colony of naked mole-rats on public view necessitates a constant noise level to block out sounds from the public. Here at Bristol Zoo, however, we have successfully raised pups without the need for artificial noise levels.

One of the answers received proves the point mentioned earlier about the difficulty of reintroducing individuals to a colony. This institution purposely removed their queen and her second litter in the hope that they could be reared successfully (the first litter was killed). Obviously, as the queen was not there, neither were her pheromones, so other females would have become sexually mature. It is not surprising, therefore, that when the queen was returned she was treated as an outsider and killed. An answer I received from another institution (Toledo Zoo) suggests that they may be over-cleaning their tunnel system. The zoo reports losing several individuals each year due to fighting. This leads me to wonder whether pheromones are being removed from the system, so that other females are maturing and therefore competing for the role of queen.

Institutions tend to feed their mole-rats food items that have been recommended to them by the institution that supplied them. This leads me to suggest that the American institutions, feeding their animals on very similar foods, have all received their mole-rats from the same initial source. Institutions holding mole-rats stress the importance of keeping to a strict diet; but again, I think this is due to instructions from the suppliers, and I am sure that if people tried other foods, they might find success. You'll never know unless you try.

Responses from the public

Bristol Zoo's naked mole-rats, the only colony on public display in Britain, have proved to be a very successful and popular exhibit. The average length of time spent observing them is two to three minutes, which compares reasonably well with that spent at other exhibits. Visitors show great interest and amusement in the animals and their ability to run backwards through the tunnels as fast as forwards. There does, however, seem to be some confusion relating to the mole-rats' nakedness: a large number of people have been observed thinking that the adults are youngsters (as they are naked) and searching the system to find the adults. Some people have even guessed that a group of dwarf hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) in an adjacent exhibit are the adult mole-rats.

Many institutions exhibiting naked mole-rats have had problems with the public tapping the glass, despite signs being placed requesting that they do not. Whether this behaviour springs from a psychological desire to do the opposite of what is requested is not certain, but it is usually younger people (between five and 20 years) that tap the glass. Older people tend to respect signs and therefore obey them. At Bristol Zoo, the naked mole-rats seem little disturbed by most glass-tapping by visitors; but they do tend to react to children climbing on the display or really severe tapping, which makes them scatter from the main nest chamber.


I would like to thank the following for providing valuable information which helped me to complete my project successfully: Laurie Arnold (Cheyenne Mountain Zoo); Andy Baker and Beth Schwenk (Philadelphia Zoo); Brian Bertram (Bristol Zoo); Chris Faulkes (Zoological Society of London); Donna Harrison (Toledo Zoo); Farshid Mehrdadfar (Metro Washington Park Zoo); Randy Morgan (Cincinnati Zoo); National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C.; Staten Island Zoo, New York; Zoological Society of San Diego.

Products mentioned in the text

Milton Sterilizing Fluid: manufactured by Procter and Gamble Ltd, The Heights, Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0XP, U.K.

Mothers Recipe: organic wholemeal cereal breakfast, manufactured by Boots PLC, Nottingham NG2 3AA, U.K.

TriGene: disinfectant fluid, manufactured by MediChem International, P.O. Box 237, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 6ZS, U.K.


Faulkes, C. (1991): The naked mole-rat. International Zoo News 38 (7): 5–9.

Mehrdadfar, F. (1996): Neonate tending behaviors in a captive colony of naked mole-rats. International Zoo News 43 (7): 492–498.

Nowak, R.M. (1991): Walker's Mammals of the World (5th edition), Vol. 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Partridge, J. (1996): Species profile for the naked mole-rat for Twilight World in Bristol Zoo. (In-house information sheet.)

Sherman, P.W., Jarvis, J.U.M., and Alexander, R.D. (eds.) (1991): The Biology of the Naked Mole-rat. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

[Postscript – Since the above article was written, seven more litters have been born in the colony, but only seven of the infants have survived; it is thought that this poor survival rate may partly be due to the queen's age. Six adults of various ages have therefore been removed from the group to form a separate `backup' colony.]

Christopher Kibbey, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA, U.K.



In September 1997 Moscow Zoo received three new male ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) to be introduced into two groups of females. First, however, we wanted to introduce these males to each other, to find out if it would be possible for two of them to form a male-only pair. Introduction of the males took place in a cage measuring 7 m by 7 m by 3 m high, divided into two by metal netting with a sliding door. Two males were placed in the cage, one in each half, a day before introduction. While introduction was taking place, the behaviour of the two males was observed and simultaneously recorded by a continuous sampling method.

Pairing No. 1 (males Gus and Tony)

When the sliding door between the two parts of the cage was opened, Gus looked at the door, but sat quietly. Tony immediately entered Gus's part of the cage and started to chase around, sniffing and scent-marking the cage. However, he did not approach Gus any closer than four metres. Several times he marked his tail at a distance of five metres from Gus, looking at him. The latter calmly and silently went around the cage, sniffed Tony's marks, re-marked some of them and once marked his own tail; he seemed to be avoiding contacts with Tony.

About 16 minutes after the door was opened, Tony started to come nearer to Gus, squealing and jumping back every time Gus glanced at him. Over a period of about 20 minutes, he tried repeatedly every 30–50 seconds to come up to Gus. By the end of this period Gus's behaviour had changed greatly: he was sitting in the same place, was not reacting to the noise around him, and seemed inhibited, withdrawing `into himself' and paying no attention to Tony. Tony, yelping as before, came nearer and nearer to Gus, and finally made two or three jumps at him (but without contact), but even then Gus did not react. Then Tony made a quick jump and bit Gus on the shoulder. Gus responded by biting Tony's paw, but made no other move. In the course of a minute or so they had three similar interactions, but the last time Tony sprang at Gus, the latter seemed to wake up from his inhibited state and jumped back at Tony. They began fighting and biting each other, and by the time the keeper managed to separate them, Gus was severely wounded in the back and Tony in the back and paws. So we had to separate them, and it was evident that they should not be kept together, but that each of them should be introduced to a different female group.

Pairing No. 2 (males Shizy and Gus)

When the sliding door was opened, Gus only looked at it, but Shizy started to move quickly about his own cage. A minute and a half later Shizy entered Gus's cage, but kept at a distance of four metres from Gus while walking around. Shizy sniffed Gus's scent-marks, but did not re-mark them nor mark his own tail, and kept an eye on Gus. Gus, on the other hand, walked calmly and peacefully around his cage, sniffing and marking, and marked his tail twice. About eight minutes after the door was opened, Shizy began to squeal every time Gus glanced at him or moved towards him, but Gus did not react to Shizy's behaviour.

Then, in the 12th minute, Shizy started to reduce the distance between himself and Gus to 1–1.5 m. Shizy was crawling and squealing, but Gus paid no attention to him. Finally Shizy began to come as close as 0.5 m about once every 45–60 seconds. Twenty-seven minutes after the introduction began, Gus came up to Shizy, who stepped away and stood still. Gus was the initiator of nose-to-nose sniffing, and they both groomed each other's tails (the upper part) for about a minute. Then Gus stopped grooming, left Shizy, and started to walk around the cage and mark everything, while Shizy watched him and sat still. Then Gus again came up to him and they groomed each other's tails. This time it was Shizy who stopped grooming and moved away. Gus again started to walk around the cage and mark everything, and Shizy sat motionless. During the next 40 minutes they met several times nose-to-nose and – on Shizy's initiative – groomed each other, but only for short periods of time, because Shizy usually went away from Gus. Then Shizy came up to Gus at the feeder, and began virtually stealing pieces of food from Gus's mouth; but the latter stayed calm and simply went away. After the first hour, Shizy stopped squealing whenever he came up to Gus. These two males were left together to await introduction into the female group.

Table 1. Main elements of social behaviour registered during the first hour of pairing of (a) Gus and Tony, and (b) Gus and Shizy.

Sniffing and Latent period with Initiations of

marking the no efforts to make interactions

territory direct contact (number)

(number) (minutes)


Gus 20 – –

Tony 13 16 31


Gus 24 37 4

Shizy 8 12 19

As a result of our observations, we can suggest several conclusions:

1. Pairing is a situation of high social uncertainty. An animal who is put into such a situation is interested in collecting more information about the partner, i.e. social interaction needs to be established.

2. There are two ways in which social interaction can take place – by direct bodily contact, or indirectly via marking and sniffing the other's marks. In our research, both Tony and Shizy were observed initiating social interactions with Gus. The latter initiated direct social interactions only in pairing with Shizy, with whom he several times initiated nose-to-nose sniffing and grooming.

3. It is highly probable that there are individual preferences in animals' ways of getting social stimulation. It is clear from Table 1 (above) that Gus preferred indirect stimulation – the number of sniffings and markings registered for him was much higher than the number of direct contacts he initiated. For Tony and Shizy, on the other hand, initiation of direct interactions was the prevailing behaviour.

4. Following introduction, different individuals have a different `latent' period during which they do not try to make direct contact. Table 1 shows that the duration of the latent period was similar in Tony and Shizy, but Gus's period was much longer in pairing with Shizy. In pairing with Tony, Gus did not initiate direct contact at any time.

5. It turned out that the frequency of social interactions initiated by a partner is very important for the other animal. If this frequency happens to be higher than the optimal level of social stimulation for that animal, it stops reacting to the initiator and becomes inhibited and withdrawn. But if the frequency is not higher than the optimal level, this causes an affiliative behavioural response in the partner. Thus, in the case of Shizy and Gus, the frequency of Shizy's activity was optimal for Gus, and he responded peaceably.

In the pairing of Tony and Gus, the frequency of Tony's activity was very high and caused a protective inhibition in Gus. He `woke up' from this inhibited state only when Tony tried to fight with him. This behaviour is interesting in showing that, in the absence of any reaction from the partner, Tony's investigative behaviour turned into direct aggression.

6. In the case of direct social interactions, we suggest that every individual has its own optimal level of social stimulation from the partner. If the stimulation it gets is not enough, the animal tries to find a way of getting additional stimulation, or information about the partner. When stimulation from the partner is higher than the optimal level, the animal either tries to escape the source of stimulation, or inhibits its activity and stops reacting to the stimuli. Among our animals, Gus had the lowest motivation to seek direct social stimulation. Shizy's and Tony's motivation was much higher, as is clearly shown by the number of social interactions they initiated (Table 1).

7. Besides the level of motivation to seek social stimulation, the threshold of perception of social stimuli is of great importance. Our males differed from one another in their observed threshold of perception. Gus's threshold was the highest – he did not react to any of his partners' efforts to make contact. Tony and Shizy reacted to all the approaches Gus made towards them; moreover, Shizy reacted even to casual movements made by Gus.

Most likely the individual's optimal level of social stimulation and its threshold of perception of social stimuli somehow correlate with each other. Probably there is a reciprocal correlation, i.e. the higher the optimal level of social stimulation, the lower is the threshold of perception of this social stimulation, and vice versa.

Varvara A. Meshik, Curator of Primates, Moscow Zoo, Bolshaya Gruzinskaya ul. 1, Moscow 123242, Russia.




The Indian python (Python molurus) is one of the threatened species protected under schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It inhabits marshes and wet rocky areas near streams and pools, and breeds in the wild mostly during the cold season, i.e. from December to February (Daniel, 1983). There are significant reports on captive breeding, gestation, clutch-size and incubation (Acharjyo and Misra, 1976; Paulraj and Thiruthalinathan, 1983). However, the present study at Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Madras, India, was aimed at detailed observations on the growth and development of hatchlings in captivity.

Enclosure design

A pair of Indian pythons were kept in a glass-fronted enclosure with a roof designed to admit natural light; the enclosure measured 3.15 by 2.75 by 2.15 metres. A small trough was provided in a corner for water, and the floor was spread with sand 15 cm deep; there were a few logs, stones and dried leaf litter to enrich the environment of the enclosure and simulate natural conditions.


In the present study mating was not observed. On 19 May 1995 at 11 a.m., muscular contractions of the body were noticed in the gravid female, who was found in a corner of the enclosure laying eggs. This female was about 15 years old, 13 feet (3.95 m) in length and weighed around 60 kg. Within 35 minutes the animal laid seven eggs, and immediately coiled around them. The clutch was left alone for natural incubation, so the eggs were not measured or weighed. During incubation, twitching movements were observed at intervals of two to three minutes. On the 57th day at 8.30 a.m. the mother abandoned the clutch and the young ones were observed with their heads protruding out of the eggs.

The process of emerging from the eggs was completed by 5.30 p.m., and in all five live hatchlings were seen. Of the remaining two eggs, one contained a dead embryo and the other was infertile.

The babies were measured and weighed on the first day. Their lengths ranged from 59 to 62 cm and their weights from 140 to 180 g. They sloughed their skin on the 12th day after hatching, and their first feeding was observed on the 32nd day.

Growth and development of the hatchlings

Data on the growth rate of the young pythons were collected for four months. The babies did not feed for the first 32 days, though chicks and small rats were provided regularly. To find their feeding preferences, the diet was changed, and there was a satisfactory result. Small birds, munias (Lonchura malabarica), were introduced into the enclosure and the young pythons immediately captured and swallowed them. Later, they were again offered day-old chicks, but these were not accepted until the 12th week; rats were accepted by the 15th week after hatching.

The measurements recorded monthly (Table 1) show that the body weight increased very little during the first two months, as the feeding rate was low, but there was significant weight gain during the third and fourth months thanks to a high intake of food.

Table 1. Monthly growth rate of young pythons.

1 month old 2 months old 3 months old 4 months old

Animal Length Weight Length Weight Length Weight Length Weight

(cm) (g) (cm) (g) (cm) (g) (cm) (g)

A 63 160 66 170 68 260 71 300

B 67 130 70 155 72 220 74 275

C 64 160 67 165 70 200 74 220

D 61 140 63 170 67 280 70 310

E 62 175 65 190 68 280 71 315

Mean 63.4 153 66.2 170.6 69 248 72 284

±2.06 ±16.00 ±2.31 ±11.20 ±1.78 ±32.50 ±1.67 ±34.84


Kalaiarasan and Rathinasabapathy (1991) observed reproductive behaviour in captivity during the month of May, and recorded an incubation period of 37 days. According to Yadav (1967) egg laying and hatching were observed during May and July respectively, with an incubation of 53 days. Acharjyo and Misra (1976) record mating during February and an incubation period of 82 days. Copulation activity in January/February, hatching in June and an incubation period of 55 days were reported by Paulraj and Thiruthalinathan (1989). The variation between the incubation period observed in the present study (57 days) and those reported by others may be due to the temperature fluctuations in the artificial environment inside the various enclosures.

Acharjyo and Misra (1976) state that there is great variation in size and weight in this species, and suggest that this relates to the quantity and frequency of ingested food. According to Whitworth (1974) the average annual growth of the Indian python is very much greater than that of the African python (P. sebae). Our study also revealed that young pythons have strong initial food preferences; munias were readily accepted during this stage, but this preference gradually disappeared with age.

Figure 1. Mean growth rate of young pythons.


The authors are thankful to Mr R. Sundararaju, I.F.S., Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, and Mr S. Ramanathan, I.F.S., Director of Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Madras, for their constant support and encouragement.


Acharjyo, L.N., and Misra (1976). British Journal of Herpetology 5: 562–565.

Daniel, J.C. (1983): The Book of Indian Reptiles. Bombay Natural History Society.

Kalaiarasan, V., and Rathinasabapathy, B. (1991): Breeding of the Indian python. Cobra 3: 10–11.

Paulraj, S., and Thiruthalinathan, R. (1989): Breeding behaviour of the Indian python. International Zoo News 36 (3): 11–15.

Whitworth, J. (1974): Notes on the growth of an African python Python sebae and an Indian python Python molurus at the Cannon Aquarium and Vivarium, Manchester Museum. International Zoo Yearbook 14: 140–141.

Yadav, R.N. (1967): A note on the breeding of Indian pythons Python molurus at Jaipur Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook 7: 182–183.

N. Baskar (education officer), N. Krishnakumar (director) and A. Manimozhi (research officer), Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Chennai 600 048, Madras, India.

Announcement – The Wild Camel Protection Foundation

The Foundation has been established to raise funds to protect the highly endangered wild Bactrian camel in its habitat in north-west China. There are approximately 900 left in the world, so the species is more endangered than the giant panda. The Foundation has the approval of the Chinese government to establish the Lop Nur Nature Sanctuary in the Gobi Desert. The aim of the sanctuary is to protect the wild Bactrian camel and the unique desert ecosystem in which it lives. The Chinese government has agreed to fund the annual running costs provided that the capital costs can be raised. The sanctuary will also act as a pilot scheme for the Jane Goodall Institute's Roots and Shoots environmental awareness-raising campaign in China.

You can support the work of the Foundation by becoming a member. T-shirts, postcards, camel prints and expedition videos are also available. More information can be obtained from:

The Wild Camel Protection Foundation

School Farm, Benenden, Kent, TNI7 4EU, U.K.

Tel.: 44 (0) 1580 241 132

Fax: 44 (0) 1580 240 960



The Quagga Project is based at the South African Museum in Cape Town. Since 1987 the Project has been selectively breeding southern plains zebras, and its aim is to continue breeding suitable plains zebras until self-perpetuating herds of quaggas exist once more.

The Project's zebras were at first kept at a single farm where they lived in large enclosures and led the life of captive animals, i.e. they were fed and cared for on a daily basis. Later, however, they were split into groups, each of which went to live at a different place. A small group might consist of a stallion and two mares, while the largest group recently had over 20 animals in it. Although the land on which the zebra groups lived was enclosed, in every case the area was sufficiently large and varied for the animals to feed themselves and work out their social hierarchies. Within the larger groups, a subgroup might consist of two or more young stallions, or a stallion and one or more mares. The largest of the Quagga Project herds lived at a large estate called Elandsberg. All the animals were, and still are, carefully monitored, and veterinary care is always available. Detailed photographic and relationship records are kept.

The quagga disappeared probably in the 1870s. (Disregard the precise dates suggested by different authors – no one will ever really know.) In the 1980s genetic evidence from a preserved quagga skin confirmed the suspicions of many that the quagga had been, not a separate species, but a southern variety of the plains zebra. Thus, a breeding project to reconstitute the quagga became a viable undertaking. The foals born within the Project mark its progress – a `good' foal is one which carries particularly quagga-like markings, and is a cause for some celebration.

Eleven years on, the Project has some animals which, by the known criteria for the more heavily striped of the `old' quaggas, are quaggas themselves. However, they are not yet at a stage where the markings of their offspring are predictable. The work of the Project cannot be expected to proceed by neat Mendelian steps. The original Project animals were selected from the wild on the basis of a brown base colour, and/or lack of striping on the legs and hindquarters and other quagga characteristics. It will take generations to concentrate the quagga characteristics which the Project animals pass on to their foals in ever-varying combinations.

Early in 1998 three factors came together which pushed forward the Project's work and the story of South African wildlife. Each of the factors was locally significant but not, by itself, historic.

The first of these factors was that Dale Parker, the owner of the Elandsberg estates, had told the Quagga Project committee (of which he was a member) that he wanted a reduction in the number of Project zebras at Elandsberg. Elandsberg holds a wide range of African wildlife, including mountain zebras, a species separate from the plains zebra. Dale wanted the 24-strong herd of Project zebras to be reduced by about half.

The second factor was that the South African National Parks Board wanted some Project zebras in the Karoo National Park. The park was more than just a new site for the Project. The Karoo was special. That vast area of sparsely-watered low-bush undulating country had been home to the old quaggas. There were some mountain zebras already in the Karoo Park – quite rightly so – but there were not yet any plains zebras. Certain game ranches in South Africa already had `wrong' zebras – with coat patterns representing more northern varieties, for want of truly South African ones – on their land. Which variety of plains zebras could be more appropriate for the Karoo than animals from the Quagga Project? The introduction of Quagga Project zebras into the Karoo had always been one of the long-term aims of Reinhold Rau, the Project's secretary and driving force. In some ways, the significance of the reintroduction was overwhelming. It happened quite quickly, almost unexpectedly.

The third factor was that BBC Television was interested in making a film about quaggas and the Project, involving Reinhold Rau and me, and arranged its visit to coincide with the release of Project zebras into the Karoo. The BBC itself was there to make a film, but it did ensure that some significant moments were expertly recorded. Its presence may also have helped to hold together arrangements which might otherwise have been postponed for perfectly good local reasons.

It was decided that 14 animals from Elandsberg would form a new herd in the Karoo. Elandsberg would get its reduction, the Karoo would get its Project animals, Reinhold would achieve an ambition and the BBC would get its film. The repatriation of plains zebras to the Karoo had been arranged.

It began early one morning in March. The zebras for transfer had been selected by Reinhold and Project member Hennie Heydenrych. Reinhold was in that state of mind observed in people whose loved ones are about to undergo serious surgery. He knew each zebra individually, its position in the herd hierarchy and in any subgroup. He knew which groups were about to be broken up. He also knew that darting the animals, to render them temporarily unconscious, was not a completely straightforward and safe matter. Darting can go wrong. The zebras themselves would be upset by the sudden disappearance of key members from their groups. Reinhold's experience with the media had not always been favourable, but relationships with this particular BBC team were good. Nevertheless, in the time just before the operation, he was justifiably tense.

One of two large trucks pulled away and disappeared. A minimum crew of Pete Morkel (the vet in charge of the whole operation) and a colleague, Reinhold, driver and assistants, were on board. A couple of hours passed. Then a message arrived for a few of us to follow and observe what was happening.

The shooting had gone well, and three zebras lay unconscious. Pete treated the dart wounds to prevent infection. Each zebra was rolled onto a canvas stretcher, resting on its folded legs and belly. The zebra, giving an occasional kick, was then heaved into the high truck and the antidote was injected. They had to make the long journey to the Karoo fully conscious. Reinhold watched every detail of the operation. There were at least two people behind Reinhold's eyes – the impartial scientist engaged on an important long-term project, and the human being who loved and cared for all his animals.

The Elandsberg zebras had no inkling of what was going to happen. They had no cause to be alarmed by the people or the vehicles. They would just keep their normal distance. Reinhold wanted to exploit the favourable conditions and had hoped that more than three of the chosen zebras would be moved that morning. But Pete Morkel decided, for his own reasons, that three zebras would be that day's quota. They would go to the Karoo straight away. The Karoo and back was twelve hours' driving.

Allan, the dominant stallion of the Elandsberg herd, was in the truck; Reinhold had chosen him to lead the new Karoo herd. There was at least one other stallion at Elandsberg who could take over Allan's job. Nevertheless, his sudden disappearance would cause disturbance in the herd. His mares would be looking and calling for him, maybe for a few days.

The second day's work started with a feeling of optimism, but the leaderless zebras were elusive and it was not until the afternoon that five were brought back. In moments when he was not recording, Kenny the South African sound man helped to heave unconscious zebras into the truck. `It was a bit of a privilege, man,' he said later. `You don't get a chance to lift a quagga every day.' Kenny had recorded many of the important events in South Africa's recent history.

The total in the Karoo was now eight. Six to go.

Quite close to Elandsberg was the high-security Krantzkop institution. On my previous visit, the Project zebras who lived in the Krantzkop grounds had been the only ones I could not see. Reinhold had not even tried to gain entry for a visiting Englishman. Word came to Elandsberg that there was a new foal with the Krantzkop herd, and after about two hours, permission came for us to go there.

At Krantzkop we crowded into two vehicles with staff members who were very helpful but whose real role was probably to keep an eye on us. The foal, less than a day old, was walking confidently by its mother. It was a `good' foal, but not a remarkable one. Its stripes did indeed fade off towards the rump; it did indeed have a brownish base colour. Five years earlier the Project might have been delighted. Now, Reinhold was merely pleased. The Project's standards were rising. True, the foal's legs were hardly striped, but there were a few short stripes on the hock. Hock stripes are one of the more persistent characteristics. `They are a very ancient trait,' said Dr van Bree to me in Amsterdam a few weeks later, as we looked at the mounted skin of the last ever of the old quaggas.

Pitzi, a Krantzkop mare, had a serious bite wound low on the rump. A flap of skin several inches long and broad hung down. Like all zebras, the mare moved about apparently unconcerned by the wound, but it looked like a bad one. In the wild, zebras can sustain massive flesh wounds in the flank and rump when they manage to shake off a lion.

By the third day of the darting, the Elandsberg zebras were disoriented and suspicious. The mare Monika, who had a foal, was mistakenly darted instead of the mare Libby, whom she closely resembled; but she was quickly revived and reunited with her foal without problem. Darting was abandoned for that day. The humans had made the return drive to the Karoo twice in two days. Both zebras and humans needed a break.

Libby and another mare, Davida, were taken the next day. Davida had been named David after me in 1995, but was later seen to be a mare. Reinhold told me of the name change with a twinkle in his eye. The truck called at Krantzkop, where Pete Morkel darted Pitzi and treated her wound. I do not know how Pitzi got her name, but the word means `zebra' in one of the south-east African languages. An adjustment was now made to the overall transfer plan; while Pitzi was unconscious, she was loaded into the truck to join the new Karoo herd. This would be as much to her advantage as anyone else's – the stallion at Krantzkop, who had been giving her a hard time, would no doubt have continued to do so.

The Elandsberg groups rearranged themselves. Luke replaced Allan and would not let a younger stallion, Chris (named after my travel companion and publisher, Chris Moiser), near his group. Subgroup leader Shaun kept Monika and her foal. In the Karoo, Allan would spend time looking for his lost mares. The Project zebras delivered there on subsequent days would certainly find each other; natural groups and subgroups would evolve and eventually stabilise.

The transfer operation was brought to a temporary halt. Everyone was satisfied. So, probably, were the Elandsberg zebras. Eleven instead of 14 zebras in the Karoo was not a problem. More would follow.

Karoo Park staff had been waiting for the truck on that first day; it was a special occasion. The truck backed up to a boma, a large enclosure surrounded by canvas walls about seven feet high. Pete Morkel would not authorise the release of the zebras until every bit of flapping material had been held down with stones; he was a careful man and had seen panicking animals before. The zebras walked out of the truck utterly calmly. After a 130-year gap, plains zebras trod the earth of the Karoo. Those of us who had become involved in quagga history might not deny a shiver of excitement or a lump in the throat.

The zebras took no notice and soon started to graze. Had the animals been upset it might have been necessary to keep them in the boma for some time or even overnight. After only about 45 minutes, an exit was made at the opposite end to the truck. We had gathered at Elandsberg at sunrise that morning. Now the sun was setting in the Karoo. Nature did it better than Hollywood might have done. Allan approached the exit, sniffed and looked briefly around, then scampered through. He resumed his dignified walking pace immediately. The other two did the same. We watched then walk into the Karoo distance. They did not hurry, but neither did they pause.

David Barnaby, 189 Stockport Road, Timperley, WA15 7SF, U.K.

David Barnaby's book Quaggas and Other Zebras (reviewed in I.Z.N. 44:4, pp. 226–7) is available by post from the publishers (Basset Publications, 18 Pasley Street, Stoke, Plymouth PL2 1DP, U.K.), price including postage and packing £9.00 (U.K. and overseas surface mail) or £10.00 (overseas airmail); please remit in sterling.

Information wanted

Tim Husband, operations manager at Blue Gum Zoo in Sydney, Australia, is working on a book about aberrant behaviour in captive animals. He is hoping to put together a compilation of `case scenarios'. He would greatly appreciate input from as many people as possible. What he is looking for is a full description of the problem, i.e. stereotypies or other abnormal behaviours and – the important part – how it was solved. He hopes that a book of this nature would be of help to people working with captive animals everywhere. Please contact Tim on:

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I work with a nearly four-year-old plains zebra stallion who self-mutilates. Since February last year, he has started biting himself on his back legs. He shares an enclosure with a two-year-old female of the same species. He has become dangerous to himself as well as other zebras and the keepers. Could this problem be psychological, dietary, or just a matter of lack of enrichment? Anyone with a similar problem or possible solutions can send replies to: Donna Doms, Washington Park Zoo, Lakefront, Michigan City, Indiana 46360, U.S.A.


THE RHINOCEROS IN CAPTIVITY by L.C. Rookmaaker. SPB Academic Publishing bv, 1998. iv + 410 pp., illus., hardback. ISBN 90–5103–134–3. Dutch guilders 225.00 or US$128.00. Available through booksellers or direct from the publishers at P.O. Box 97747, 2509 GC, The Hague, The Netherlands (Tel.: +31–70–3300–253; Fax: +31–70–3300–254).

RHINO RANCHING: A MANUAL FOR OWNERS OF WHITE RHINOS by Dr J.G. du Toit. Published by Africa Publishers, Pretoria, for the South African Veterinary Foundation and the African Rhino Owners Association, 1998. 64 pp., paperback. £25 post paid from SAVA Wildlife Group, P.O. Box 12900, 0110 Onderstepoort, or African Rhino Owners Association, P.O. Box 381, 2008 Bedfordview, South Africa.

L.C. Rookmaaker is one of those dedicated researchers whose unpaid labours contribute so much to the sum of knowledge within the zoo community. Rhinoceroses and zoo history are two subjects each of which has its own devoted following, so by combining the two in one magnificent book, he deserves to achieve a wide readership (at least by the relatively modest standards of specialist zoological publications).

Any rhinoceros studbook keeper knows how difficult it is to keep track of even the living rhinos in captivity, so Mr Rookmaaker's aim – `to collect information about each individual rhinoceros which has been kept in captivity from the earliest times to the present' – was, as he admits in his introduction, `a quite impossible task'. Rhino enthusiasts will probably be kept busy for years to come trying to find records he missed! (That is, those rhino enthusiasts who had not already helped in the compilation of the book: Marvin Jones of San Diego, Heinz-Georg Klös of Berlin and Richard J. Reynolds III of Atlanta – whose articles in International Zoo Yearbook 2 and 4 were forerunners of the present work – receive special mention on the title page, but many others appear in the acknowledgements.) The number of rhinos documented is certainly impressive – 2,439 animals `from Roman times to 1994'. (The species breakdown is interesting – Indian, 397; Javan, 22; Sumatran, 96; black, 775; white, 1,105; unknown, 44.) Regular zoo visitors will enjoy checking up on animals they remember seeing in the past – I looked up my own earliest rhino acquaintance, Lorna, a D. bicornis who, as I now know, was at London Zoo from 1947 to 1964.

But The Rhinoceros in Captivity is much more than just a list. The book is a mouth-watering repository of zoological and zoological information of all sorts. In 1544 the Tartars besieged Peking with an army said to include 80,000 rhinos, but sadly the amazing picture this evokes – worthy of Cecil B. de Mille at his most expansive! – is overturned by a modern translator who has decided that yaks, not rhinos, were the animals involved. Bishop Heber noted in the 1820s that the Indian rhinos of the kings of Oudh at Lucknow `seem to propagate in captivity without reluctance', but did not enlarge on this tantalising comment; what did the kings of Oudh know that we don't? A rhino at Belle Vue Zoo, Manchester, in the mid-19th century had the run of the zoo, and frightened no one, but did annoy the laundry-maids by chewing the washing on the line. I could go on and on. . . The book also provides a valuable collection of rhino pictures – 166 in all, ranging from modern zoo photos to earlier depictions of great historical or artistic interest, including a Roman statuette unmistakably depicting a black rhino, and an early Chinese wine container in the form of a two-horned rhino of uncertain species.

One small regret, to end with – why does so confirmed a rhino-lover as Mr Rookmaaker regularly refer to any individual animal as `it', even when its sex is known? I realise that this usage is common when writing about animals, but it always irritates me (and, as some attentive readers may have noticed, I do my best to eliminate it from the pages of I.Z.N.). To apply the pronouns `he' and `she' to animals is not anthropomorphism, merely a recognition that they are living individuals rather than mere objects. But this is a very minor criticism: I'm sure the writer meant no disrespect, and probably few readers of his book will share my hypersensitivity on the subject! I am grateful to Mr Rookmaaker for a splendid tribute to a group of animals which have always been among my favourites. I hope his years of work, and the confidence of his publishers, will be rewarded with the sales the book deserves.

It is rather startling for a European reader to see a 64-page booklet, of the sort which over here might be a guide to the care of budgerigars or golden hamsters, directed instead at informing would-be owners about the rudiments of the husbandry of the world's third largest species of land mammal. But Rhino Ranching: a Manual for Owners of White Rhinos was evidently produced to meet a real need. The astonishing success of the captive-breeding programme for the southern white rhino means that in South Africa restrictions on its ownership have been relaxed, and anyone with enough money and suitable land to spare can go out and buy a few. Private rhino-keeping is now sufficiently well established for the owners to have formed their own association (which, with the South African Veterinary Foundation, sponsored the publication of this book) – indeed, in his foreword the chairman of the African Rhino Owners Association claims that the number of privately-owned rhinos (presumably mostly white) in South Africa is equal to the total number of rhinos of both species, captive and wild, in the rest of the continent. I can see no good grounds for objecting to this development, provided only that the owners are responsible and competent – which is where Rhino Ranching comes in, as a handy guide to the essential facts every aspiring rhino-owner should know.

Can 64 pages contain those essential facts? Possibly it can; the history of white rhino husbandry since the early 1970s, when Whipsnade and San Diego took the – then – pioneering step of setting up large ex situ breeding herds, seems to prove that this really is a relatively easy species to maintain in captivity. Their main requirement – large areas of suitable land – is certainly more easily met by South African landowners than by Western zoos. Dr du Toit suggests stocking at a rate of from one to four animals per 100 hectares (250 acres), much the same density that is found in favourable, undisturbed terrain in the wild. A typical white rhino ranch is from 1,000 to 5,000 hectares in extent. (For comparison, fewer than ten British zoos have a total area greater than 100 hectares.) Keeping rhinos on that scale has more in common with game management than with zoo husbandry.

But Rhino Ranching certainly doesn't advocate just letting loose a few rhinos on your land and leaving them to get on with it. Separate chapters outline the species' habitat requirements, social behaviour, reproduction and management, with notes on the practical implications for the rancher. There are good accounts of capture and transport, and of the natural and unnatural causes of mortality, with an excellent couple of pages on poaching, why it happens and what to do about it. (If it's really true that in Africa today you can get an AK-47 in exchange for a packet of cigarettes, it's a miracle that any wildlife survives.) There are also chapters on the politics and economics of rhino ranching – most of the ranchers, obviously, aren't in the business solely out of love for the animals. The pros and cons of trophy hunting are discussed (yes, there are some pros). There is even a sensible discussion of the controversial issue of marketing the horns of ranched rhinos, which left me undecided but more open-minded and better informed. Zoos holding white rhinos don't need this book to tell them how to look after their animals; but I'm sure they will find it interesting to see the species viewed from such an unfamiliar angle.

Nicholas Gould

DER LÖWE BRÜLLT NEBENAN – DIE GRÜNDUNG ZOOLOGISCHER GARTEN IM DEUTSCHSPRACHIGEN RAUM 1833–1869 by Annelore Rieke-Müller and Lothar Dittrich. Böhlau, Cologne, 1998. x + 292 pp., 30 illus. on plates, hardback. ISBN 3–412–00798–6. DM 78.00.

CARL HAGENBECK (1844–1913) – TIERHANDEL UND SCHAUSTELLUNGEN IM DEUTSCHEN KAISERREICH by Lothar Dittrich and Annelore Rieke-Müller. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, 1998. 356 pp., 40 illus., paperback. ISBN 3–631–33474–5. DM 98.00.

HAGENBECK – TIERE, MENSCHEN, IILLUSIONEN by Ortwin Pelc and Matthias Gretzschel. Bücher und mehr (Hamburger Abendblatt), Hamburg, 1998. 200 pp., illus., hardback. ISBN 3–921305–50–0. DM 49.80.

Zoos, loosely defined as collections of live wild animals, have been with us presumably since the establishment of the first cities and states. Zoological gardens, on the other hand, are an innovation of the 19th century. The term was coined in the 1820s by the Zoological Society of London for their new menagerie in Regent's Park. The Z.S.L. wanted their collection to be considered more than just a menagerie, a term that had been brought into some disrepute by substandard travelling menageries. Like the New York Zoological Society of our times, which banned the word `zoo' in the name of its four, well, zoos in favour of `Wildlife Conservation Park' (or `Center', depending on the size of the zoo), the Z.S.L. wanted to give notice of a new, modern attitude to the keeping of wild animals in captivity. The Paris Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, 35 years older, was just as scientific in its approach; it was after all a branch of the national museum of natural history. But it was a state-run institution, subject to the whims of politicians. The Schönbrunn Menagerie in Vienna, half a century older yet, was an imperial collection, subject to the whims of the Kaiser or Kaiserin. The Zoological Gardens of London, on the other hand, were founded by what one would now call private enterprise; they were in their inception patrician, bourgeois. Basically, the zoological gardens of today still are, at least in Western Europe and in cultures of European origin. Even when administered by the state or a municipal government, their financial well-being is largely dependent upon their acceptance by that part of society which patronises them, pays taxes and gives tax-free donations and encourages others to do likewise.

Until the mid-19th century, zoos in Germany – as in most other European nations – were either royal, princely or otherwise monarchical institutions, or they were travelling menageries, or they were stationary menageries associated with beer-gardens or road-houses. (The first zoo in Germany to call itself a `zoological garden' – zoologischer Garten in German – was actually a road-house menagerie in Hamburg opened to the public in 1841, but of course it was more beer than zoological garden. It existed, at any rate, for only a year or two.) The only zoo to have survived from the `prehistoric' age of menageries down to now is Schönbrunn Zoo. All other zoos in German-speaking Central Europe stem at the earliest from what one could call the `founding epoch', the Gründerzeit, of real zoological gardens. The historian Annelore Rieke-Müller and Lothar Dittrich, Director, retired, of Hanover Zoo, have written a fascinating history of Germany's zoo Gründerzeit. Not all zoos in Germany, of course, were founded in the years between 1833 and 1869, the `brackets' of Rieke-Müller and Dittrich's story, but most were established in a similar atmosphere and under similar circumstances as the oldest zoological gardens of the nation.

It was in the year 1833 that efforts were first made to initiate a zoological garden in Berlin. The capital, then, of the Kingdom of Prussia did have a royal menagerie, on an island lake to which usually only the king and his guests had access, but not a `zoological garden' to amuse and leisurely educate the middle and upper-middle classes that had established themselves in the earliest years of industrialisation. The zoo was founded by a non-profit, joint-stock corporation, which was the financial and economic status of almost all zoological gardens in Germany well into the 20th century. It only first opened to the public in 1844, but was eclipsed in the 1860s by other zoos, especially Hamburg's, Cologne's and Frankfurt's, themselves founded by joint-stock corporations financed by wealthy, local patricians. Rieke-Müller and Dittrich have spared hardly an archive in the country in digging out the old minutes, letters, reports and newspaper cuttings that together tell the early history of Germany's zoological gardens. Dry stuff, presumably, to go through, but their synthesis is lively and enlightening. The title of the book, translated `The lion roars next door', is tacky to be sure. But the authors' scholarly study gives an excellent impression of the when, why and how zoological gardens were established.

In 1869, Berlin Zoo was `relaunched', to use a modern term, refinanced to permit rapid expansion. The director of Cologne Zoo was poached, and the growing number of animal dealers combed for stock. It would soon become the major zoo on the European continent, a status only two world wars would briefly interrupt. The subtitle of Rieke-Müller and Dittrich's book suggests that the story ends in 1869, but fortunately the authors summarise well the further development of zoos in Wilhelmian Germany. They also give a good review of the development of the modern animal trade, not only in Germany, but in Europe in general, and of zoo architecture in the mid- to late 19th century. Towards the end they offer an essay on how zoological gardens represented bourgeois, middle to upper-middle class cultural standards a century ago. As could be expected of such a scholarly work, the bibliography is comprehensive; unfortunately the book lacks an index.

Der Löwe brüllt nebenan is a well-printed and -bound book, with nicely reproduced, well-chosen illustrations. The price of DM 78 – about £25 or US$40 – seems fair. All that cannot, unfortunately, be said for a second book on zoo history by Dittrich and Rieke-Müller that was published only a couple of months later. Carl Hagenbeck has the same excellent, scholarly standards (and an index), and theirs is certainly the most comprehensive biography published to date on Germany's leading animal dealer prior to the First World War, and the founder of Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark in Hamburg (cf `Hagenbeck at 150' in I.Z.N. 45/8, pp. 468–475). But it is cheaply printed and bound as a Ph.D. dissertation, which both authors put behind them years, or decades, ago. The illustrations have the quality of photocopies. And although very well written, it seems that an editor never went over the manuscript. (Even Goethe required an editor, so no offence intended there.) The price of DM 98 will probably put the book out of range of all but the keenest Hagenbeck enthusiasts, especially as another well-written and lavishly illustrated book on the Hagenbecks in general was published last year, and is available at half the price.

Hagenbeck: Tiere, Menschen, Illusionen (that is, `animals, people and illusions') was published to accompany a special exhibition on the Hagenbecks at the Museum for the History of Hamburg, but it is not really a catalogue and can be enjoyed without one having ever been to the Museum. The quality of printing and of the reproduction of the wealth of historical illustrations, maps and recent photographs is overwhelming. The authors, a staff historian at the Museum and a journalist with the local newspaper that sponsored the book, did have access to the Hagenbeck archives, but they were hampered by a relatively short deadline after the decision to publish the book was once made. Still, Pelc and Gretzschel have written not only a good book, but also the one book of the three under review here that can be enjoyed by someone who reads no German: the pictures are largely either self-explanatory or have captions easy enough to read with the help of a dictionary.

Dittrich and Rieke-Müller's biography is the more scholarly, better researched volume. Although limited in scope to Carl Hagenbeck, father and son (mostly son), it offers in context an excellent overview of the European animal trade during the decades before the First World War, probably a better history of the trade even in Britain, for example, than anything published to date in English. Carl Hagenbeck Jr is best known now, of course, as the founder of the zoological park in Hamburg that bears his name. Dittrich and Rieke-Müller throw light on all the many other zoologically and ethnographically oriented businesses he pursued over half a century, his influence on the development of other zoological parks, and how he was almost run out of the animal trade by a boycott by German zoo directors objecting to his efforts to upstage not only the old Hamburg Zoological Garden but the venerable Berlin Zoo as well. Hagenbeck had a project, supported by the last German Kaiser, who never visited the Berlin Zoo as an adult, but was fond of Hagenbecks Tierpark, to establish a Hagenbecks Tierpark in Berlin as well. Fortunately, both for the Berlin Zoo and for the younger Carl Hagenbeck's heirs, who presumably would have gone bankrupt inheriting the project, nothing in the end came of the scheme save a well-thought-out plan. Carl Hagenbeck Jr, as Dittrich and Rieke-Müller, and Pelc and Gretzschel, show, was a truly remarkable personality, but he was, of course, a product of his age, very much a bourgeois too, one well ahead of his times in establishing the zoological gardens we enjoy today.

Herman Reichenbach

GUIDELINES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT edited by David A. Field. Association of British Wild Animal Keepers, 1998. 275 pp., loose-leaf. ISBN 0–9525307–4–0. £14.00 (text and dividers only) or £15.00 (assembled in ring binder). For more information or to place an order, please contact Andrew Bagnall at Chester Zoo (Tel.: 01244–380280; E-mail: Cheques payable to ABWAK; for every copy sold, another will be sent free to a collection in a developing country.

I must start by confessing to a bibliophile's prejudice – I've never really liked loose-leaf, ring-bound volumes, and find it hard to accept that they are, properly speaking, books at all. That said, I have to agree that there are compelling reasons for the choice of that method of production in the present case. `Environmental enrichment,' David Field points out in the foreword to this compilation, `is an ever-evolving subject. By the time these guidelines are published, the fertile imagination of zookeepers will have multiplied the various techniques available. Consequently they are intended as a dynamic document and should form the basis of a personal enrichment databank. This should explain their format and presentation.' Fair enough – this is a practical tool for hands-on animal keepers, and a `coffee-table book' only in the sense that it belongs among the mugs and other equipment in one of those cubby-holes where zoo keepers gather to relax from their duties. Its practical, no-nonsense approach is typical of ABWAK; and so, too, is the imaginative scheme whereby every purchaser of a copy subsidises the gift of another to a zoo in a poorer country.

Apart from one chapter at the beginning and three at the end dealing mainly with the philosophy and scientific background of the subject, Guidelines for Environmental Enrichment consists of separate discussions of enrichment for 13 groups of animals – fish, reptiles, birds, small carnivores, canids, bears, felids, hoofstock, elephants, marine mammals, callitrichids, monkeys and great apes. It is good to see previously under-represented taxa – fish and hoofstock, for example – included in the list. Each section is contributed by a person or persons with experience of the group in question. Most of them work in British collections (though some, such as Alison Ames on bears and Graham Law on cats, are already internationally known for their expertise); but marine mammals are dealt with by George Rodgers of Marineland of Malta, and canids by Achim Winkler of Duisburg (a zoo which pioneered the use of simulated prey for Cape hunting dogs and successfully kept Arctic foxes in a mixed exhibit with snowy owls).

Some conventions are used in the layout to highlight important points – bold italic text identifies principles or strategies applicable across the taxonomic group, while descriptions of specific techniques are enclosed in boxes. Few readers, I think, could browse through the techniques without finding new and thought-provoking ideas; and, as befits a publication largely produced by and for keepers, the suggestions tend to be economical, not merely financially, but – of equal importance – also in their demands on staff time. David Field emphasises that if enrichment is to become an integral part of a zoo's husbandry regime, it is essential that it can be incorporated into daily routines without producing undue pressure on keepers.

ABWAK's journal, Ratel, regularly includes a section on environmental enrichment. From now on, at the end of each year these enrichment articles will be available to be purchased as a separate block for insertion into the Guidelines binder. But I predict that many owners of the volume will also make their own – hand-written, word-processed or photocopied – additions. Each copy of Guidelines for Environmental Enrichment can develop in its own way; many of them, I'm sure, will grow and grow. What a good idea it was to issue it as a loose-leaf, ring-bound volume!

Nicholas Gould

Forthcoming meetings

12–16 May 1999 – The 39th International Symposium on Diseases of Wild and Zoo Animals will be organised by the Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research (IZW) and hosted by Schönbrunn Zoo and the Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria. Main topics ofthe symposium will be the breeding, husbandry, control and diseases of elephants; anthropozoonoses in wild and zoo animals; and diseases of Lagomorpha and Rodentia. For further information please contact: IZW, P.O. Box 601103, 10252 Berlin, Germany (Tel.: +49 30 5168 728; Fax: +49 30 5126 104; E-mail:

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29 August–3 September 1999 – The Fourth International Conference on Environmental Enrichment will be hosted by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and take place at the University of Edinburgh. The main aim of the conference is to provide a forum for discussion between the theory-based scientist and the practical application of the zoo keeper. There will be oral presentations, workshops, posters and discussions that deal with all aspects of environmental enrichment. For further information please contact: In Conference Ltd, 10B Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh EH1 3LY, Scotland, U.K. (Tel.: +44 131 556 9245; Fax: +44 131 556 9638; E-mail:

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23–26 February 2000 – Wolves: A Global Symposium will be hosted by the International Wolf Center and the University of Minnesota Duluth University College. The focus will be on wolf recovery and management. For further information, contact: International Wolf Symposium, UMD-University College, 251 Darland, 10 University Drive, Duluth, Minnesota 55812–2496 (Tel.: 218–726–6819; Fax: 218–726–6336; E-mail:



Extracts from Help Newsletter No. 20


Howletts had 15 primate births – six Javan langurs, a dusky (spectacled) langur, three banded leaf monkeys, two colobus, a black howler, a white-faced saki and a moloch gibbon – and only one infant, a banded leaf monkey, did not survive. New arrivals were a group of six woolly monkeys from Apenheul, and nine banded/mitred (Presbytis melalophos) and eight grizzled (P. comata) leaf monkeys from Indonesia (see overseas news, below). The arrival of the banded and mitred leaf monkeys will give our small gene pool of this species a valuable boost. The arrival of an adult male mitred (P. melalophos mitrata) is particularly important, as our group of fully fertile, proven mother-rearing mitred females have been without a male of their own subspecies for over three years. Even more important, however, is the arrival of the grizzled leaf monkeys, a species endemic only to western Java, where it is highly endangered and estimates suggest only 1,000–2,000 remain. Our experience and unique breeding success with the related P. melalophos over the last 11 years has placed us in a position where we can attempt to establish a breeding colony of this species in captivity. The reduction of numbers in the wild continues from deforestation and hunting, and in 1997–8 the catastrophic effects of forest fires and the threats from political upheaval in Indonesia have served to remind us just how vulnerable such small populations of forest-dependent wildlife are. Unfortunately two females had to be euthanased due to illness within the first month of arrival; one had peritonitis from a liver infection and the other showed a positive reaction during routine TB testing. But had they remained untested in Java, the entire group would probably have become infected, so it may be that we imported them just in time.

Among primate births at Port Lympne, the most surprising was that to Barima, a 26-year-old saki monkey, who is rearing the infant herself; it is said that the average age for this species is only 17 years, so she is obviously an exception.

Gorilla births continue to take place regularly, and in September 1998 the total for the two parks was 60 (27.33). Two mature males have left Port Lympne to lead breeding groups elsewhere, Biju at Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, and Jomie in London. In September 1997 Jomie had shown us an unpleasant side to his character by killing Cato, the male colobus whom we intended to run with the gorillas; it is thought that he pulled him through a gap in a hydraulic door which joins the two enclosures. The following June, 11-year-old male Boulas killed Mojo, a young diana monkey; we think Mojo had become very confident in her interactions with the younger males, and possibly got too close to Boulas. After these two incidents, we no longer mix colobus or diana monkeys with the gorillas. At Howletts, a young male samango monkey suffered a broken jaw, but it is not clear whether this was the result of fighting within the samango group or a confrontation with one of the gorillas.


There have been more breeding successes among our canids. The newest Asian wild dog pack at Howletts once again reared a litter of five. Often at the front of their spacious enclosure, the 12 dogs here make a beautiful sight, their red coats contrasting vividly with the green grass, the pups entertaining the public with their games. At Port Lympne, last year's hunting dog success has been repeated with a litter to a new pair of dogs, Ben and Ashanti, who arrived from South Africa in December 1997. Last year's litter are now young adults and doing well. With the demise of wild dogs the world over, these successes could be of extreme significance for the future.

At Howletts, Tonkin, our breeding female clouded leopard, succumbed to cancer, and though at 12 years she would probably not have bred again, it was a serious loss. But perhaps sadder was Notyet, a hand-raised female `cloudie', and perhaps the gentlest cat the park has known, always greeting her keeper – whether new or old – with friendship. She contracted Marie's disease, one symptom of which is a crippling and irreversible enlargement of the limb bones. Despite valiant attempts to save her by hand-feeding and syringing distilled water down her throat night and day, it was ultimately and very reluctantly decided to gently euthanase her. She is very much missed. We also feared we would lose a male Indian tiger, Jumna, who was suffering severe mouth lesions and constant and recurrent sickness. The prescribed medicines, though of some help, made him lose his coat. Then, on a hunch, we eliminated horse from his diet, and he completely recovered – we have a tiger who is allergic to horse meat!

The high point of the year with the Howletts tigers must be the continued growth and vigour of the cubs born to Schytta and Zcabs. Though we have always been able to enter enclosures with mother-raised tigers until recent rules dictated otherwise, a reliable handling relationship has not been achieved. Yet this is what we now have with these four tiger youngsters – probably a unique achievement. This close relationship and the time spent has given us a unique insight into the family life of these predators and their little-mentioned qualities such as tenderness and loyalty.

The value of such human–animal relationships was also shown at Port Lympne when a `bonded' male tiger, Harami, collapsed in his shed only hours after being seen full of life. A Clostridium infection was suspected. The close friendship head keeper Adrian Harland has with this cat allowed him to hand-inject drugs and spend the night in the shed giving him water and helping him to change position, thanks to which Harami recovered, and has subsequently mated.

In December 1997, Pickles, a blind fishing cat at Port Lympne, underwent an operation to remove a cataract in his left eye. Early indications suggested that his eyesight had been greatly enhanced, especially when he was seen to catch and kill a bird in the enclosure, but as time went by it became obvious – judging by his inability to locate food placed in water – that he was actually relying on his other senses. In early August he was introduced to Lao, one of our older females, who has a gentle and placid temperament. Although they are unlikely to breed, it is hoped they will settle together and that Lao will not take advantage of his disability. Two pairs of our fishing cats went abroad to zoos in Germany and France. Matings have been regularly observed in both elderly pairs of rusty-spotted cats at Port Lympne, but unfortunately nothing has resulted from this; sadly no sexual behaviour has been seen in our young pair, although due to their secretive nature it is not always observed.


At Howletts, the bongo are doing well, with a female calf born in summer 1998 and another expected in the autumn. Louissa, last year's hand-raised female, was weaned before Christmas 1997 and has been fully integrated with the herd for some time now. The Brazilian tapirs seem to have formed an admirable pair, and produced their second offspring in August 1998; this calf came only 426 days after Chico's birth last year, and as the gestation period is approximately 400 days, the time-scale reflects the compatibility of the pair. A female chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis) gave birth to one calf but was unable to pass the second, so it was decided to perform an emergency caesarean section. Unfortunately it was impossible to save the calf, but thankfully the mother survived and by the following day had convalesced sufficiently to continue to feed and raise her surviving offspring. A hand-raised blackbuck, Dehlia, gave birth in July 1998, and coped well despite her own unconventional upbringing and inexperience; the birth serves to reinforce indications that she has been completely accepted into the social structure of the herd.

Two new species joined the collection at Port Lympne. Four female Burmese brow-antlered (Eld's) deer arrived from Leipzig and were joined by a male from Chester; three more are due to come from Prague at some point. Three female banteng came from a park in Germany, and were joined by five (2.3) more from Austria; a male calf was born in August.

Additions to our herd of black rhinos in the last year have brought the total number at Port Lympne up to 14. This is the most rhinos we have ever had, and our herd is now equal with that of Dvur Králové in the Czech Republic as the two largest captive groups of black rhino in the world. Our five-year-old cow, Etna, who originally herself came to us in 1995 from Dvur Králové, has helped us achieve this goal; on 8 September 1998 she gave birth to a female calf which she is rearing successfully. We hope our other young cow, who stopped cycling some months ago, is also pregnant. In July 1998 we separated our mothers Rukwa and Nakuru from their babies; as both had started to cycle again, it was time to get them back in with the bull, and their calves, at around 20 months old, were getting quite big and more independent. The two (1.1) calves were put together and are now inseparable companions. After more than two years of negotiations, Lucia from Rome finally made it to Port Lympne in October 1998. Aged 27, she is a proven breeder but had been on her own for more than ten years in a small enclosure at Rome Zoo. She is a beautiful animal with a lovely temperament. Though it has been a very long time since she saw another rhino, she seems very calm and curious about her new surroundings. We look forward to getting her properly established in her new life, and hope that she will breed once again, bringing new blood to our group.


The past twelve months at Howletts have been very interesting and also very entertaining, especially observing the three (2.1) new African calves, Jumar, Umna and Jassa, with their family group. All three have their own individual characters, and they are constantly play-fighting, which is very amusing to watch. All the rest of the herd are also fit and healthy. At the time of writing another female, Stavit, is definitely pregnant, and we are expecting her to give birth around October. [Stavit gave birth to a healthy female calf on 25 October 1998; the Howletts herd now numbers 16 (5.11), the largest group of African elephants in Europe. – Ed.]

Our search for a new bull to replace Assam in Port Lympne's Asian herd finally ended when we obtained Luka, a proven bull from Belfast Zoo. After an initial settling-in period and a wait for dry weather, we were able to use a grass paddock to introduce him to some of our cows. This went very well indeed, with only minor pushing and shoving from him to assert his dominance over them. Within only a few hours of his meeting Yasmin, she stood for him and allowed him to mate her. He has now also mated Tanya and Motki, so things look promising. On 20 August 1998, Pugli finally gave birth after a 695-day pregnancy. She killed her first calf soon after birth in 1984, and her second, in 1996, although stillborn, was kicked around, so it had been agreed in advance that this calf should be removed at birth, with a view to returning it to her once she had calmed down. We have made many attempts to give this latest calf back to her, with or without sedation, but she has shown nothing but aggression towards him. So Ashoka, as he is known, is being raised by us, and we are now in the process of trying to foster him out onto another female, Motki, who seems to be quite interested but at the same time a little nervous. We are sure that, in time, she will take him under her wing; the sooner he can spend time freely in the company of other elephants, the better, as he will learn from them and only need us for feeding.

Overseas projects

In January 1998 the Congolese authorities revoked a previous decision to allow all the gorillas under our care to move to Gabon. Not only would the gorillas have to stay in the Republic of Congo, but they would also have to go back to the sanctuary at Lefini. This decision came as a great disappointment, as we had set our hopes on the isolated paradise of the newly-found site at Mpassa, in south-east Gabon. Thanks to the courage and determination of the eco-guards at Lefini, the six gorillas who had been left in the sanctuary had survived the war unscathed and were in perfect health; so work is proceeding on the return of the 11 gorillas who had been evacuated to Pointe Noire, together with two more infants confiscated subsequently. Although the Congo project is to continue, it was decided to go ahead with the new sanctuary in Gabon anyway. The site is far more remote and undisturbed than that of Lefini, and has a greater wildlife population, including elephants, hippos and crocodiles. The first four gorilla babies arrived at Mpassa in July 1998, and are now spending the whole day in the forest across the river from the base camp; several more will be joining them shortly.

In January 1998 Torgamba was returned to the new 300-acre (120 ha) Sumatran Rhino Breeding Area in the Way Kambas National Park. The transfer took place without significant problems, and as part of the same operation Torgamba was joined by two females from Indonesian zoos, Bina from Taman Safari and Dusun from Ragunan Zoo. At the time of writing, all three rhinos are fine, though a little underweight. Torgamba has attempted to mate Bina, but so far no actual copulation has taken place, and Dusun has not cycled as yet.

While in Indonesia, Peter Litchfield, our general manager, saw a number of abandoned or confiscated leaf monkeys being kept in poor conditions at Ragunan Zoo. It was agreed that we would take some banded leaf monkeys on loan, along with some grizzled leaf monkeys from Bandung, for our breeding programmes at Howletts, and that we would also set up a breeding project within the zoo in Jakarta.

The Przewalski mare we sent from Port Lympne to run free in Mongolia with other reintroduced horses has produced a beautiful foal. The Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski Horse has introduced a further 20 horses to the Hustain Nuruu reserve; but it should be remembered that this still remains an extremely endangered species, with around a mere 1,450 worldwide. At the time of writing we have 1.2 in isolation, destined to go to Western Plains Zoo in Australia together with one from Marwell and a couple from Whipsnade.


Allwetter Zoo, Münster, Germany

A long-awaited birth took place after more than 22 months of pregnancy when Bernhardine, an Asian elephant cow born in 1984 at Rotterdam Zoo, had her first calf on 11 January 1999. It was a very quick birth, but when the keepers and veterinarians checked the calf they found it was not breathing. Intensive efforts to resuscitate the baby were successful after some minutes, but all attempts to lift it onto its feet failed. The next morning when the situation seemed hopeless the little elephant was euthanized – a great disappointment for the dedicated staff who had fought for its life for nearly 30 hours. The post mortem showed a herpes virus infection of the mother which prevented normal breathing of the foetus in the mother's body.

Although this was a sad event, it was a remarkable birth in elephant breeding history: the mother Bernhardine was the first full second-generation birth in Europe (both her parents were captive-born at Hanover and Copenhagen Zoos), and she has now started breeding herself. The calf's father, Alexander, was born in 1978 at Ramat-Gan in Israel and moved to Münster in 1994 when the zoo opened its new elephant facilities. For a few months now Alexander has been at Rotterdam Zoo, but there are still eight Asians in Münster, including a seven-year-old bull born at Hagenbecks in Hamburg.

Jürgen Schilfarth

Amsterdam Zoo, The Netherlands

For the first time in its 160-year history, the zoo has succeeded in breeding European spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia). Amsterdam's colony of 14 birds had bred before, but did not rear the young. In 1998 four pairs produced ten healthy young which were all reared by their parents. The male of the first pair is already 16 years old and by far the oldest spoonbill in the colony. Two young of this pair hatched on 17 March and were reared. The same pair produced a second clutch of three eggs which hatched in early July; again, all the chicks were reared. The three other pairs were somewhat less lucky, but together produced the other five young. One of these pairs did start a second clutch on 22 August, but the eggs were found broken on the ground after extremely heavy thunderstorms in mid-September.

Amsterdam's spoonbill colony is housed in a large 26 ´ 20 ´ 8 m outdoor aviary, which was transformed about four years ago into a typical Dutch landscape exhibiting native species. The spoonbills benefited from this transformation, as they were the biggest birds left in the aviary. Two years later the birds were supplied with on-site winter accommodation, which permitted them either to stay inside or to step out into the meadow, which they clearly preferred during daytime. Thus we did not have to expose them any more to the stressful manoeuvres of relocating them in special winter enclosures elsewhere in the zoo.

A different diet may also have contributed to their apparent well-being during this first successful breeding season. Starting in February 1998, even before the first courting was observed, their pool began to be supplied with fresh ditch-water from a picturesque, typical Dutch rural region north of Amsterdam. The water obviously contained food items of interest to the spoonbills, as they immediately started their characteristic sifting once the containers were emptied into the pool. We think that this food (e.g. Daphnia, Mysis, Gasterosteus aculeatus and small molluscs) had a positive influence on the birds' breeding.

Henriëtte Plantenga in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Apenheul Primate Park, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands

A bonobo (Pan paniscus) was born at the park on 17 September 1998. The first-time mother is taking excellent care of her male offspring. Both parents arrived at Apenheul about two years ago. The mother was born in 1985 at the Yerkes Primate Center, Atlanta, Georgia, and is on loan from San Diego Zoo; the first-time father is wild-born and is thought to be 17 years old. Their baby is an important contribution to the gene pool of the Bonobo EEP. The delivery, which took place in the group, lasted less than 20 minutes, and was witnessed and videotaped by staff. Several of the bonobo group members came near to inspect the baby following the birth. This group now consists of 11 individuals and is – along with the 11-member group in Planckendael, Belgium – the largest bonobo group in captivity.

Kenneth Gold in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Bristol Zoo, U.K.

The zoo has successfully bred giant Peruvian centipedes (Scolopendra gigantea) – the first known captive breeding of these invertebrates in the world. This is the largest known centipede species, measuring up to 265 mm. Its recorded distribution is quite large, stretching throughout the lowland forest of Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, Honduras, Trinidad and Jamaica. It is for the most part nocturnal, spending much of its daylight hours in moist subterranean burrows. It predates voraciously on a mainly insectivorous diet, although it will feed on small mammals, birds and reptiles when encountered.

Our breeding of this species has provided data and experience that will be valuable in development of husbandry guidelines and breeding protocols for other institutions wishing to have it in their collection. As a dramatic terrestrial invertebrate this centipede is second to none, and it draws great interest as an educational display. Unfortunately, it has proved extremely difficult to maintain, let alone breed. This is partly because the centipede's thigmotaxic tendencies [sensitivity to tactile stimuli – Ed.] makes it very difficult to display correctly and to ensure the animal can be viewed without causing unnecessary stress.

Our first group of wild-caught juveniles was acquired in August 1996, and their appetite and aggressive nature became evident in subsequent months. They devoured many different food items and grew quickly. They were kept in the tropical breeding room at an average temperature of 26° C and a relative humidity of around 75%. After much courtship behaviour in March 1997, a pair of individuals whose sex we had guessed using behavioural observations and size difference (sexing adult centipedes is a difficult and dangerous business) began to mate. A small spermatophore was seen to be produced and the transfer of this parcel of sperm witnessed.

In the course of the following few weeks many birthing burrows were excavated by the female, only to be destroyed by the troublesome male. The male was removed to give the female some degree of peace in which to lay her eggs. She did so around late July 1998, and on closer observation there appeared to be over 40 blue/green ova, which were diligently cleaned and turned by the mother. We noticed a mass hatch in September, but did not try to count the larvae as too much disturbance could have resulted in the female devouring her young. The helpless youngsters remained with their mother through a couple of larval growth stages, balanced delicately on her underside as she lay on her back.

It took some weeks before the young moulted from almost immobile larvae to smaller representatives of their mother, at which time the mother moulted and died. One explanation for this could be that the mother provides important nutrition for the young, to enable them to moult into independent juvenile centipedes; other animals also offer this most altruistic of sacrifices, including the sheet-web spider (Coelotes atropos). Moulting of the mother prior to death would give the weak larvae softer access to an otherwise impregnable meal. To control cannibalism, the larvae were removed from the remains of the mother at the approximate time when they would be expected to naturally moult into juveniles and disperse. After a thorough inspection, 60 larvae were unearthed; we hope this will ensure a healthy group of second-generation centipedes.

Both juveniles and adults are now on show in the tropical breeding room at the zoo's Bug World invertebrate house. There is also a display of these predators on view in our naturalistic forest exhibit. A more complete paper that focuses on the specifics of culturing S. gigantea and the display techniques used in Bug World will be published in the near future.

Abridged from Warren Spencer in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Chessington World of Adventures, U.K.

The most exciting event recently has been the birth of our second, second-generation gorilla, born to Asili on 2 January 1999. The infant is feeding well and Asili is proving to be very a good mother to her firstborn. The other infant, Buu, is now two years old and very interested in the new arrival.

The bird garden has seen some significant arrivals, including 2.1 long-tailed hornbills (Tockus alboterminatus; a pair will remain at Chessington, the other male is here on loan), 1.1 blue-winged kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) from Dublin, 1.1 black-necked aracari (Pteroglossus aracari) from a private owner, 1.0 red-tailed laughing thrush (Garrulax milnei) on loan and 1.1 Dumont's mynah (Mino dumontii) on loan.

Murphey, a two-and-a-half-year-old male Californian sea lion arrived from Dublin; he has settled in well, with hopes of eventually replacing 19-year-old Boris as the breeding bull. Work is due to start shortly on a new sea lion holding/weaning area and a wooden `pier' for use in presentations and providing more shade for the animals. The presentation/education staff are currently involved in preparing for Science Week, a national event in March 1999. Using sea lions, penguins, other birds and snakes in unique presentations, we will examine how animals move in a fun yet educational way.

Luke Gates

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Ohio, U.S.A.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has selected two Florida manatees to be transferred to the zoo's new Manatee Springs exhibit. The animals are being transferred from Florida to make more room for sick and injured manatees at Florida's manatee rehabilitation facilities, which are currently at or near capacity. The two animals chosen to come to Cincinnati are Douglas, a three-year-old orphaned male and Stoneman, a four-year-old captive-born male, both currently housed at Miami Seaquarium. Both have life histories which make them unsuitable candidates for release into the wild.

For the first time, three facilities outside Florida – Sea World of California, Columbus Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo – have recently been selected to participate in the USFWS's manatee rehabilitation program. Manatees that are generally healthy, but for various reasons are not considered good release candidates, can be transferred to facilities outside Florida. `By placing these manatees in out-of-state facilities, we will insure our ability to care for manatees here in Florida and will increase public awareness of the plight of the manatee and the actions needed to insure their survival,' says Robert O. Turner, Manatee Recovery Coordinator, USFWS.

Currently, there are fewer than 3,000 Florida manatees remaining in coastal (both marine and freshwater) habitats in the south-eastern U.S. Historically, human activities account for about one-third of known manatee deaths in Florida, and approximately 80 per cent of these are boat-related. In 1998, at least 231 manatees died. Thirty-two were rescued after boat-related injuries, entanglements in fishing gear, abandonment as calves, or because of illness or exposure to cold temperatures. Many of the manatees that are brought in for rehabilitation recover relatively quickly and are routinely released in the general vicinity of their rescue. But even with a progressive release program, the number of manatees being held for rehabilitation in Florida facilities has continued to increase each year because more injured, orphaned, or sick animals are rescued than are released.

Abridged from a Cincinnati Zoo press release, 2 February 1999

Denver Zoo, Colorado, U.S.A.

A leaf-nosed, or Macmahon's, viper (Eristicophis macmahoni) hatched at the zoo on 10 October 1998. This is the first time this species has reproduced here. After obtaining 2.2 adults in 1994, they were hibernated in 1997. On 22 August 1998, one female laid eight eggs, but only one hatched after an incubation of 50 days at 83.5° F (28.5° C). Four other eggs contained dead, fully-formed embryos. The hatchling began eating live pink mice immediately after its first shed. Although previously bred in North America, the species is currently rare in U.S. collections. Other institutions working with this species are requested to contact Rick Haeffner, Curator of Reptiles/Fishes, at the zoo at (303) 376–4926.

B. Shipley in AZA Communiqué (February 1999)

Japan Serow Center, Gozaisho, Japan

The Japan Serow Center, made up of the Gozaisho Alpine Zoo and the Gozaisho Natural Museum, is one of the most unusual zoological institutions in the world. The Alpine Zoo is the only specially themed facility for serows in Japan, and specializes in the conservation, and research into the breeding and behavior, of Capricornis and related species, especially the Japanese serow (C. crispus), which can be seen living wild in the area around the Center.

In its brief history, the Serow Center has had several important achievements. Its parent organization had the first successful birth of a Japanese serow in captivity in August 1965. After promotion and recognition of this success, the Center was formally founded in 1973. In 1986 it hosted the International Serow Symposium. The Center has continued to develop and carry on day-to-day studies of this species, and many babies are now born there each year.

Future plans include not only expanding the facility's enclosures, but also their collection. An important part of this planning calls for the preservation of the natural habitat around the Center. In furtherance of our conservation efforts, we will be introducing new species such as takin. At present, we have lost some species and specimens due to old age and accidents: for example, we currently have no stock of saiga, but we hope to be able to acquire a breeding group of this unique animal. We would like to receive information about possible acquisitions or breeding exchanges. As well as Japanese serow, and aside from birds and small mammals, our collection currently includes the following species: Rocky Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), goral (Nemorhaedus goral), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), Formosan serow (Capricornis swinhoei), Sumatran serow (C. sumatrensis) and musk ox (Ovibos moschatus).

Abridged from Yoshi Yonetani in Animal Keepers' Forum Vol. 26, No. 2 (February 1999)

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France

A palm-nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) hatched at the zoo on 27 May 1998. This is probably the first breeding success of the species in Europe, and might even be a world first.

Four juvenile palm-nut vultures were confiscated in 1991 and donated to Le Rocher des Aigles, Rocamadour, France, which kindly gave the older pair, who were just reaching maturity, on loan to the Ménagerie in 1994. This pair built its first nest in 1996. The first egg, which later disappeared, was laid in 1997. A second egg, which broke, was laid in early 1998, and another egg was first seen on 6 April 1998. This egg was naturally incubated and the chick hatched on 27 May 1998. The parents reared the young bird without problems – except one: the breeding pair became extremely aggressive towards their keepers. This breeding success provides excellent prospects for regular breeding of this species at Paris in the years to come.

Jean-Luc Berthier and Marsha Schlee in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, New Zealand

One of the most significant ornithological discoveries in New Zealand this century occurred on 9 November 1997, when a team searching for Campbell Island teal (Anas aucklandica nesiotis) on Jacquermart Island caught a snipe and saw seven others. Jacquermart Island is a 19-ha island off Campbell Island, a subantarctic island south of New Zealand. Up until this time, there was no evidence that snipe ever occurred in the Campbell Island group. Rats on Campbell Island had eliminated the now endangered teal and the more common pipit by 1840, and these species are now confined to rat-free islets scattered around the main island. It is likely that the Campbell Island snipe will prove to be an endemic subspecies of the New Zealand snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica), which has surviving populations on the Snares, Auckland and Antipodes Islands. During the search the dogs' behaviour indicated the presence of at least ten snipe on the island. Given the amount of suitable habitat, there could be up to 60 individuals living on the island, but the total population is likely to be much less than this.

Captive breeding at the New Zealand Department of Conservation's Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre has played an important role in saving a number of endangered New Zealand bird species. One of the options being considered to assist in assuring the future recovery of the newly-discovered snipe is captive breeding, to provide sufficient birds for reintroduction to Campbell Island following the proposed eradication of rats there. The plan would be to run breeding programmes on analogue (surrogate), more numerous snipe species in order to gain expertise in the husbandry of Coenocorypha snipes. These would be the Chatham Island snipe (C. pusilla), followed by the Auckland Island snipe (C. a. aucklandica). The proven avicultural techniques would then be applied to the Campbell Island snipe. Initially we plan to bring three known pairs and 12 wild-laid eggs of the Chatham Island snipe into captivity. The eggs will allow us to gain experience on artificial incubation of snipe eggs and hand-rearing snipe chicks to independence. Once adult birds begin to lay, the first clutches will be lifted for artificial incubation and the second clutch left with the adults.

One previous attempt was made to hold Chatham Island snipe in captivity in 1988, but all eight adult birds caught were lost due to stress and aspergillosus. However, a number of factors have changed in the last ten years that should increase the likelihood of successfully maintaining and breeding snipe in captivity:

– improved methods of transport for birds and eggs;

– better disease management;

– commercial supplies of insects now available;

– detailed research reports on snipe feeding and breeding ecology;

– experienced avicultural staff at Mt. Bruce.

Some of the avicultural problems which need to be solved relate to the following:

(1) Methods of settling the birds into captivity and onto captive diets;

(2) Captive diets and methods of presentation;

(3) Aviary size and landscape;

(4) Breeding behaviour, nutritional requirements, etc.;

(5) Artificial incubation and hand-rearing;

(6) Disease management.

I would like to request international assistance from anybody with any experience in the captive husbandry of snipe (i.e. Gallinago species) or even species such as godwits and whimbrel, some of which could provide avicultural information applicable to snipe. Alternatively, should anybody have knowledge of an aviculturist or institution with such knowledge, or of any possible reference material on the subject, their contact details would be invaluable. Any information, advice or contact details would be greatly appreciated and should be sent to me at the address given below. I will also undertake to keep aviculturists, internationally, informed of the progress of this project.

Glen Holland, Species Manager, Mt. Bruce National Wildlife Centre, RD 1, Masterton, New Zealand (Tel.: 06–375–8004; Fax: 06–375–8003; E-mail:

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

The birth of two Asiatic lion cubs on 4 June 1998 was a milestone for the zoo – the first big cat births for nearly 15 years. But although I was very pleased, the happy event did present me with a problem. I had come to Paignton in April for a four-month study placement as part of my degree at the Van Hall Institute in the Netherlands. The goal of my research was to study interactions between the pair, Midas and Jamna, to see if there were any behavioural reasons to explain why they were not breeding. The arrival of cubs five weeks into my study was, therefore, a bit of a hitch!

My research was initiated in response to growing concern that the lions were not breeding, and had rarely been seen mating by their keepers. In the wild, during the two to four days when the female is in a receptive state, Asiatic lions are known to mate up to 50 times a day, so it seemed odd that keepers had not observed more mating. Although the pair were still quite young, they were of an age when they would have been expected to have had a first litter in the wild. Since both were captive-born and Jamna was partly hand-reared, it seemed possible that their reproductive behaviour might be affected. My plan was to compare their behaviour with that of a pair of lions born at Chester Zoo.

This plan obviously needed re-thinking when the cubs arrived, since although their reproductive behaviour seems unusually infrequent it is obviously effective. I realised then that we were in the unique position of having detailed behavioural observations of a lioness in the last five weeks of pregnancy. Perhaps from this data we could derive a reliable behavioural predictor of time of birth. At Chester Zoo the keepers predict the time of birth by adding on three months from when the lions were last seen mating. But at Paignton the lions are very rarely seen mating, so we need another method. After analysing the data it seemed that pacing behaviour was the most likely clue. At the beginning of my observations both lions walked up and down (`paced') in a defined area for short periods in the middle of the day and the evening in anticipation of feeding times. Over the study period Midas showed little change in this behaviour, but Jamna began to pace less and less over the second, third and fourth weeks (down to about 8% of the level in the first week). Instead she rested more – understandably, since she was almost at full-term pregnancy. However, in the fifth week she began to pace much more (about 150% of the level in the first week) and at all times of day, not only immediately prior to feeding. This is probably because she was anxious to go into the sleeping dens, which would seem to her the safest place to give birth.

These results need to be verified for other lionesses, but it seems we might have found a behavioural indicator of date of birth. Providing the normal level of pacing of a lioness is known, then a gradual decline in this level (replaced by resting) over two to three weeks, followed by a sharp increase for a few days, would imply that the patter of tiny paws was imminent. So although in this case science did not run smoothly, with some thought a `slight hiccup' became a promising new opportunity.

Michel Vloon, research student, in Paignton Zoo News No. 37 (Autumn/Winter 1998)

Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

The zoo keeps 5.4 Aldabra tortoises and 1.2 Galapagos tortoises; this is one of the biggest giant tortoise groups in Europe. We decided to build a house especially for this valuable group, in order to provide the animals with the best possible living conditions. The Giant Tortoise House was officially opened on 26 September 1998. The two species are separately housed in a total indoor area of 250 m2 and an outdoor area of 1,230 m2. These spacious facilities were designed to keep up to 20 giant tortoises in the future, when the species will hopefully breed. The inside enclosures are copies of the natural habitats on the Seychelles and Galapagos respectively. The temperature in the house is maintained between 24° C and 28° C, and the humidity is nearly 100%. Some spots are heated up to 40° C, thus enabling the tortoises to make their own choice regarding which temperature they prefer. In each enclosure there are also places filled with sand and earth for digging and the disposal of eggs. A monitoring system was recently installed which enables staff members to observe the tortoises also during the night in case any eggs are being laid.

A spacious 27 m2 enclosure housing 1.2 Papua monitors (Varanus salvadorii) is also situated in the new house.

Tomás Kapic in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Rainforest Habitat, Lae, Papua New Guinea

One of the newer members of the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria, the Rainforest Habitat began operations in 1994. Situated on ten hectares of the University of Technology's Lae campus, the site was originally a mixture of rubbish dump, tall grasses and a few scrubby trees. With help from the adjacent Papua New Guinea Defence Force Engineer Battalion, the site was cleared of rubbish, fenced and work commenced on our first exhibit, a 3,000 m2 walk-through rainforest, in April 1994. This exhibit, now four years old, provides an opportunity for visitors to see many of the more interesting aspects of the rainforest in a comparatively small and captive situation. The 11-metre-high structure is home to over 50 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. There are 250 m of walkways that meander through more than 10,000 rainforest plants, around a large lake and island, over a waterfall, past a swamp and out through the gift shop.

Since the rainforest aviary was established, several other exhibits have been either fully or partially completed. They include a part on-exhibit and part off-exhibit bird of paradise breeding centre, a long bank of aviaries for larger parrots and cockatoos, a two-species cassowary complex and an orchid and butterfly house.

The Rainforest Habitat is home to one of the largest collections of birds of paradise in the world, with over 100 specimens of 11 different species. These include Stephanie's astrapia (Astrapia stephaniae), brown sickle-billed bird of paradise (Epimachus meyeri), blue bird of paradise (P. rudolphi), raggiana bird of paradise (P. raggiana), Emperor of Germany's bird of paradise (P. guilielmi), superb bird of paradise (Lophorina superba), magnificent bird of paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus), Lawes's six-wired parotia (Parotia lawesii), Loria's bird of paradise (Loria loriae) and lesser bird of paradise (Paradisaea minor).

Also in the collection are vulturine parrots, New Guinea harpy eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae), catbirds, red-cheeked parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi), purple-bellied lory (Lorius hypoinochrous), blue-eyed cockatoo, palm cockatoos, bower birds, Brehm's tiger-parrots and over ten species of pigeons and doves.

Although the mammal collection is not large, three species of tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi, D. dorianus and D. matschiei) are kept, as are New Guinea long-beaked echidnas (Zaglossus bruijnii) and Papua forest wallaby (Dorcopsulus macleayi). There are also New Guinea crocodiles in the rainforest exhibit, along with many species of native fish, reptiles and amphibians.

Abridged from Peter Clark, Manager, The Rainforest Habitat, in Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998)

Ridgeway Trust for Endangered Cats, Hastings, U.K.

All the margays are doing well. Coco and Quetzal's youngster, Calakmul (Cally), was removed from his mother at the beginning of August when he was nine months old. Although this is around the time when we normally remove kittens, Quetzal had just come into oestrus again after rearing him, and as he was starting to take a more than filial interest in her, we had to make the move quickly. He is due to go to Port Lympne soon on breeding loan, together with Tikal's and Chiqui's kitten. Coco and Quetzal were reunited after he was moved and they have mated again, but so far without success. However, we are hopeful of a further litter some time next year. [A kitten was in fact born to Coco and Quetzal on 1 February 1999 – Ed.]

Tikal's and Chiqui's kitten is a female and is now nine months old. She is not as keen to come near you as her mother, but she certainly isn't timid, as we discovered when catching her up for her vaccinations – she fought, bit and scratched with the fury of something ten times her size. As a result of this show of temperament we have named her Lemba, which means `lightning' in Mayan. Chiqui has continued to act as the perfect mother: once Lemba was around three months old, she stopped being aggressive about people entering the enclosure and returned to her normal relaxed self, waiting at the gate and slipping into the porch to inspect whatever food you had brought. She would still on many occasions take food to Lemba first, and wait for her to eat before eating her own ration.

Tikal (born here in 1995) has grown into a really superb cat; he is handsome, chunky, and getting very much bolder. He will now come when called and take food from the hand, without scuttling off afterwards in fear, and increasingly sits outside to scrutinise visitors. This is a great step forward, as it means he is not stressed whenever we have visitors, and that you can get close to him to check for injuries or signs of illness – of which there have been none so far.

In early November we netted most of the margays in order to take hair samples for DNA analysis. Because we know our cats are from Belize, this will provide important baseline data against which to compare margays from other parts of Central America, and of other subspecies, so that we can decide whether they can be paired up with our cats for breeding purposes. Cats in other collections are to be `plucked', too, and the hairs analysed by Dr Ettore Randi of the Instituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica in Italy.

The young female Chan Chich is a timid cat, and although we thought at one time of sending her away on breeding loan, we have decided she would not thrive in a zoo environment, so she will be staying here. We are trying to import a male from Mexico as a mate for her. He is a wild-caught, mature animal, confiscated and currently living in a zoo in Yucatan. Because of limited space he is having to share an enclosure with an established pair, which is not ideal, so the zoo director is willing for us to have him. He is of the same subspecies as our margays and so would be extremely valuable for our breeding plans. However, Mexico does not permit the export of CITES Appendix 1 species. In the 18 months since we first heard of this cat, we have sent letters and detailed proposals to the Mexican authorities explaining the aims and working of the EEP, and it now looks as if they will grant an export permit, but there's still a long way to go.

Abridged from Pat Mansard in LiFeline (December 1998)

Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, Germany

On 15 January 1999 our 14-year-old African elephant, Bibi, gave birth to a female calf. The infant, who was 88 cm high at birth, is developing without problems. The father, Tembo, also 14 years old, came from Zimbabwe to the park in 1987, together with Bibi. The calf is the third elephant to be born here; in 1998 two Asian elephants were stillborn (see I.Z.N. 283, p. 121; I.Z.N. 288, p. 456). The calf is the first live birth of an African elephant in Berlin, and the seventh elephant birth in Berlin in all. Moreover, it is the seventh African elephant live-born in a German zoo; the others were at Munich (1943), Opel Zoo, Kronberg (1965 and 1968), and Hanover (1968, 1973 and 1977).

Dr Bernhard Blaszkiewitz

White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee, Florida, U.S.A.

A southern black rhino was recently translocated from the Center to Kruger National Park, South Africa. Analysis of the genetic make-up of the Kruger rhino population has indicated the need for additional genetic enhancement. Potential disease transfer issues complicate the safe translocation of wild rhinos from other regions in Africa.

Born at the Center in 1996 from wild-caught parents of Zimbabwe origin, the young male made the 56-hour trip to the Kruger National Park under the watchful eye of the Park's chief veterinarian, Dr Douw Grobler, who will also be managing this rhino's transition into Kruger's black rhino population. Kruger protects one of the healthiest black rhino populations on the African continent, and it is anticipated that this young male will eventually contribute healthy genetic offspring to this valuable cooperative rhino conservation program.

J. Lukas in AZA Communiqué (February 1999)

Wuppertal Zoo, Germany

For many years, the Baird's tapir has not been kept in Europe. (London Zoo, where Baird's tapirs lived in the 1950s, seems to be the only exception to this `rule'.) About 30 Baird's tapirs are kept in North American zoos and are being managed in the SSP, which has sent a few to zoos in Japan and China. Several Central American zoos also keep the species. Wuppertal Zoo joined the SSP and received a male on loan from Columbus Zoo, Ohio, in July 1994, followed by a pair in June 1996 as gifts from San Diego Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas. For the first time in Europe, a female calf was born on 26 August 1998. Remarkably, she lost the striped and spotted pattern of young tapirs rather early – at three months of age, most of the pattern has disappeared. Unlike the South American species, Baird's tapirs are rather difficult to handle; not all individuals are harmless to keepers, and accidents, like those rather common with Malayan tapirs, have happened in several U.S. zoos.

Ulrich Schürer in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

Zoo Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

We are proud to announce that Atlanta will be the next zoo in the United States to house giant pandas. Zoo Atlanta researchers Rebecca Snyder and Megan Reinertsen, under the direction of zoo president Dr Terry L. Maple, have been working in collaboration with biologists at Chengdu Zoo for almost two years, attempting to uncover behavioral patterns that may be affecting the pandas' breeding success. One important factor is the way young panda cubs are raised in captivity. The usual Chinese practice is to remove a cub from the mother after four to six months, so that the mother will cycle again the following spring and potentially produce another cub. In the wild, however, a cub usually remains with its mother until it is at least 18 months old. The mother-cub relationship is believed to be very important for proper behavioral development – it is possible that early separation from the mother is one of the reasons why captive pandas do not show appropriate reproductive behavior later in life. A study was initiated at Chengdu Zoo and the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center to compare the behavioral development of cubs that remained with their mothers for at least one year with that of cubs that were removed from their mothers before six months of age. So far, the scientists have intensively studied the development of five cubs and their relationship with their mothers, and they will continue to follow the cubs' progress through adulthood, in order to fully answer questions about how early rearing affects reproductive behavior.

The juvenile pair due to arrive in Atlanta on loan in the late summer or early fall of 1999 have been part of this study since birth; the male, Yang Yang, is one of the first cubs to be raised by his mother for a full year. The zoo is optimistic that once these pandas reach sexual maturity they will be socially prepared for optimal breeding and parenting. During their stay in Atlanta, they will also be the subjects of studies of environmental enrichment, feeding strategies, nutrition and health.

There are only three other giant pandas on exhibit in the United States – two at San Diego Zoo and one at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Abridged from Zoo Atlanta press releases, 28 January 1999

News in Brief

Two southern tamanduas were born on 8 October 1998 at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington, to a first-time mother. Although twin tamanduas have been reported previously in zoos, this is believed to be the first time that a mother has successfully cared for both offspring. One twin was considerably larger than the other at birth; but at 46 days, each had doubled in weight.

D. Payne in AZA Communiqué (February 1999)

* * * * *

Bracken, a female peregrine falcon who lost her leg in a trap, will be able to enjoy a full life thanks to a pioneering British designer of artificial limbs. Bob Watts is more used to working with human clients, but in January he managed to fit a tiny prosthesis to Bracken, whose prospects of breeding were hampered by her tendency to fall over at the crucial moment. The creation of the artificial leg, a perfect replica of the missing limb, was made possible by the use of silicone instead of the usual acrylic plastic, which is too rigid for such a delicate procedure.

Coincidentally, on the same day Boris, a Siberian eagle owl at an owl sanctuary in Cornwall, had cataracts removed from his eyes, enabling him to see properly for the first time in years.

* * * * *

In recent years, Hanoi Zoo has been so successful in breeding Vietnamese pheasants (Lophura hatinhensis) that a few specimens could be sent to Europe. Antwerp Zoo, Belgium, received a pair in 1997, and in 1998 no fewer than 11 eggs were artificially incubated and hatched. The chicks were all successfully hand-reared. The last clutch was replaced by chicken eggs, which the pheasants successfully incubated. They also reared the resulting chicks, giving good hopes of parent-reared Vietnamese pheasants in 1999. Only two European zoos, Antwerp and Clères (France), currently keep this species.

Steven Vansteenkiste in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

* * * * *

In November 1998, Ramat-Gan Zoological Center, Israel, sent a young pair from its breeding herd of African elephants to Knowsley Safari Park, U.K., to join a promising group of 1.7 there. The two young animals settled in very well and were integrated into the group. Ramat-Gan has had outstanding breeding success with African elephants – 18 calves, of which 15 survived, have been sired by two different bulls. The first African elephant born there (Yossi, 1974) is now the breeding bull and responsible for the last 15 births. The group now stands at 2.7.

Jürgen Schilfarth

* * * * *

Three New Guinea crocodile skinks (Tribolonotus gracilis) have hatched at the Bronx Zoo, New York. The leathery eggs, approximately 27 mm in length, were incubated at 82° F (27.5° C) in a 1:1 ratio by weight of coarse vermiculite and water. They hatched after 48–53 days and measured 78 mm from snout to tail-tip. Very little is known of the natural ecology of this species.

C. Castellano and J. Behler in AZA Communiqué (February 1999)

* * * * *

Birdworld, Farnham, U.K., has successfully reared white-crested turacos (Tauraco leucolophus). Two attempts to get the parent birds to rear their chicks themselves proved unsuccessful. Although the chicks hatched each time, they were on each occasion found thrown out of the nest at about 15–20 days. Subsequent post-mortems showed that the parents had been over-zealous in their duties, over-feeding the chicks so that they choked on their food. Five have been hand-reared this year, all of which turned out to be female.

Kerry Banks in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

* * * * *

On 21 October 1998 Mara, a 16-year-old African elephant cow at the Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France, gave birth to a healthy female calf, later named Bahati. This park in the south of France keeps a group of 1.2 adult African elephants (born 1982–1984), together with a single Asian female about 25 years old. Bahati had to be bottle-fed at first, but is now being reared by her mother.

The calf is the first African elephant ever born in France, and one of only about 20 born in Europe since 1965.

Jürgen Schilfarth

* * * * *

A female aardvark was born at Frankfurt Zoo, Germany, on 21 September 1998 after a gestation period of approximately seven months. She weighed 1.3 kg at birth and 9 kg at about two months of age. The mother has given birth to ten offspring, seven of which were either miscarriages or failed to survive; only three have been reared since 1991. This year's young is the first to be mother-reared without problems. The first captive-bred aardvarks were born at San Diego Zoo and Frankfurt Zoo in 1962, but both died after a few days. The first young was raised at Amsterdam Zoo in 1966.

Bart Hiddinga in EAZA News No. 25 (January–March 1999)

New publication – Birth Date Determination in Australasian Marsupials

The determination of birth dates for marsupials has long been a problem for keepers of animal records. The common practice of recording the date of pouch emergence as the date of birth is not good enough. Our scientists use actual birth dates, and so should we if our records are to have scientific merit. A new guideline, entitled Birth Date Determination in Australasian Marsupials, has been assembled to allow us to estimate the date of birth using measurements and observations. It gives pouch life events such as when fur appears, when ears open and when the young begin to spend time off the teat and to emerge from the pouch. This information is provided on a chart with a measure of age in days. It also gives measures of foot, tail and head, where known. This data has been taken from published papers for each species of marsupial held in the Australasian region.

Birth Date Determination in Australasian Marsupials is available from the ARAZPA office (P.O. Box 20, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia) at A$25 to ARAZPA and ASZK members, A$35 to non-members within Australasia and A$40 to non-members outside Australasia.


Bach, C.: Egg data study of Fijian crested iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 12–13. [Taronga Zoo.]

Bach, C.: The other kind of keeping. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), p. 21. [Record keeping, with special reference to recording birth dates in marsupials. (See p. 125, above.)]

Baker, W.K.: Are there any general guidelines on what could set an animal off and how do primary signs of aggression fit into this kind of situation? Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 2 (1999), pp. 56–57.

Baker, W.K.: How does exhibit design affect zoological safety? Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 1 (1999), pp. 11–12.

Blaszkiewitz, B.: Vari-Fünflinge im Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde. (Quintuplet ruffed lemurs at Tierpark Berlin.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), p. 398. [German, no English summary.]

Clark, P.: The Rainforest Habitat, Lae, Papua New Guinea. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 32–33. [See pp. 120–121, above.]

Dittrich, L.: Zoobauten als Ausdruck geistiger Zeitströmungen. Bemerkungen zum Verständnis der historischen Bausubstanz deutscher Zoos. (Zoo buildings as an expression of the spirit of the times: comments on understanding the architectural heritage of German zoos.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 325–331. [German, no English summary.]

Dolan, J.M.: The mammal collection of the Zoological Society of San Diego. A historical perspective. Part XIV: Tachyglossidae to Vombatidae. Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 337–364.

Engle, K.: Should zoological institutions sell `wildlife products'? Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 4–6.

Franklin, D.: Some thoughts on taking birds from the wild. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 8–11.

Gallivan, S.: To intervene or not to intervene. . . Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), p. 30. [Australian Wildlife Sanctuary. Assisting a pair of black swans (Cygnus atratus) to hatch a clutch.]

Gardiner, L.: A comprehensive school in elephant training, handling and safety procedures. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 40–41. [A report on the annual course at Riddle's Elephant Breeding Farm, Arkansas, U.S.A.]

Garner, R., and Mackness, B.: Captive breeding of the whitetip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 16–17. [UnderWater World, Mooloolaba, Queensland.]

Garner, R., and Mackness, B.: First captive breeding of the blotched fantail ray Taeniura meyeni (Müller and Henle, 1841) in Australia. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 22–24. [UnderWater World, Mooloolaba, Queensland.]

Gerencser, J.: A science education opportunity with same taxon species. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 1 (1999), pp. 21–24. [International Crane Foundation; children observed and compared behaviour of Grus grus, G. japonensis and G. canadensis.]

Gubler, Z.: Captive breeding of wompoo fruit-dove, Ptilinopus magnificus. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 18–20. [Currumbin Sanctuary.]

Gupta, B.K.: On reproduction and captive breeding of ranids. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 25, No. 12 (1998), pp. 464–468.

Hardy, D.L.: Male–male copulation in captive Mojave rattlesnakes (Crotalus s. scutulatus): its possible significance in understanding the behavior and physiology of crotaline copulation. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society Vol. 33, No. 12 (1998), pp. 258–262.

Hemphill, J., and McGrew, W.C.: Environmental enrichment thwarted: food accessibility and activity levels in captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla). Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 381–394. [A group of ten gorillas at Columbus Zoo, Ohio, use an outdoor enclosure which simulates in function a multi-levelled African forest. Despite having this environment, the animals are more inactive than their wild counterparts, spending 80% of their time resting, in comparison with only 31% in the wild. As most of a wild gorilla's time is spent foraging for and consuming food, the authors altered the form and placement of the gorillas' food, by giving it diced into small pieces or elevated off the substrate. Activity levels changed, but mostly in unexpected ways. Foraging was not affected in either condition. The diced food produced increases in travel, but also in resting, and decreases in eating, probably because the tiny pieces were not worth the effort to gather. Travel probably increased because the individuals were searching for larger food items. The elevated food produced only a slight increase in travel, when the immature gorillas were affected by the novelty of the food tubs used; because of their fascination with the containers, much of the food fell to the ground early on, thus negating the condition. Clearly, not all enrichment efforts, however well-intentioned, succeed as expected.]

Ireland, B.: To train or not to train. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 14–15. [Auckland Zoo. Emphasises the beneficial effects of training zoo animals.]

Johann, A.: Rhododendron-Vergiftung bei Varis. (Rhododendron poisoning in ruffed lemurs.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 399–400. [German, no English summary.]

Kerridge, F.J.: Part-time fostering by a pair of black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia v. variegata). Animal Welfare Vol. 8, No. 1 (1999), pp. 35–42. [Twin (1.1) infants at Chester Zoo were fostered on a part-time basis, in conjunction with hand-rearing, with an adult pair who were closely related to them. The adult female showed allomaternal behaviour towards the twins, although she did not attempt to suckle them. The adult male ignored them for the first few weeks, but as they became more mobile and playful he frequently initiated play with one or both. Growth rates showed a significant trend, with the fostered twins growing faster than hand-reared infants but slower than parent-reared ones. Fostering of rejected infants as a captive-management strategy is advocated as an alternative to traditional hand-rearing techniques because of the welfare advantages to both infants and foster parents.]

Kolar, K.: Haltung und Zucht gefährdeter Haustierrassen im Schönbrunner Tiergarten, Wien. (Management and breeding of endangered domestic breeds at Schönbrunn Zoo.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 365–376. [German, with brief English summary.]

Lloyd, K.: The laboratory rat as an inter-species foster-mother for an Australian rodent. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 6–7. [Territory Wildlife Park. Two dusky rat (Rattus colletti) infants were successfully fostered by a female domestic rat; the author suggests similar fostering might be feasible with such endangered species as the rock rats Zyzomys palatalis and Z. pedunculatus.]

Murphy, J.A.: Interactions between arboreal and terrestrial marsupials sharing enclosures at Healesville Sanctuary. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 26–29.

Noonan, B.: Behavioural enrichment of African lions Panthera leo krugeri. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 34–35. [Auckland Zoo.]

Pryor, W.: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Indiana, U.S.A. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), p. 31.

Reason, R.: Successful rearing of a ten-and-a-half-week-old orphaned giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) calf at Brookfield Zoo. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 2 (1999), pp. 64–66.

Rose, E.: Diets and nutrition for aquaria. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), p. 3. [Sydney Aquarium. Emphasises the value of gelatine as a binder for a variety of foodstuffs.]

Schürer, U., and Bürger, M.: Nachzucht bei den Neuguinea-Krokodilen (Crocodylus novaeguineae Schmidt, 1928) im Zoologischen Garten Wuppertal. (Breeding the New Guinea crocodile at Wuppertal Zoo.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 332–336. [German, with very brief English summary. The two hatchlings are believed to be the first of this species bred in any zoo.]

Sealy, R.: An amazing rescue of a Matschie's tree kangaroo joey. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 2 (1999), pp. 74–75. [The new-born joey fell to the ground, but staff successfully placed it in the pouch after about an hour, and at 26 weeks its development appears to be normal.]

Tardona, D.R., and Tardona, J.H.: Captive birds of prey and environmental enrichment: results of a field survey. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 25, No. 12 (1998), pp. 471–481.

Underwood, G.: The brush-tailed rock-wallaby recovery program at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), pp. 24–25. [Petrogale penicillata.]

Volf, J.: Erste natürliche Aufzucht von braunen Hyänen (Hyaena brunnea Thunberg, 1820) in Menschenobhut. (First natural breeding of brown hyaena in captivity.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 68, No. 6 (1998), pp. 377–380. [German, with brief English summary. In 1998 at Prague Zoo, three young were mother-reared to independence, the first case known in captivity.]

Welch, B.: New Zealand dotterel, Charadrius obscurus, and how to rear them in a tent. Thylacinus Vol. 22, No. 2 (1998), p. 2. [Auckland Zoo; preventing infection by mosquito-borne diseases. (This article will also be published in the next issue of I.Z.N.)]

Yonetani, Y.: Invitation to Japan Serow Center. Animal Keepers’ Forum Vol. 26, No. 2 (1999), pp. 58–59. [See pp. 116–117, above.]

Publishers of the periodicals listed:

Animal Welfare, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Herts. AL4 8AN, U.K.

Animal Keepers’ Forum, American Association of Zoo Keepers, 635 S.W. Gage Boulevard, Topeka, Kansas 66606–2066, U.S.A.

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

Thylacinus, Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquaria, P.O. Box 20, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia.

Der Zoologische Garten, Gustav Fischer Verlag Jena GmbH, Villengang 2, D-07745 Jena, Germany.