International Zoo News Vol. 47/2 (No. 299) March 2000


space.gif - 60 Bytesspace.gif - 60 Bytesspace.gif - 60 Bytesspace.gif - 60 Bytes FEATURE ARTICLES
Effects of Increased Food Dispersal and Random Feeding Time/Place on Stereotyped Behaviours in Otters At Adelaide Zoo Lianne Hawke, Peter Lauer, David Bartholomeusz and Zeta Steen
A Zoo with a Future – Dublin Zoo John O’Brien
Boring Brown Birds and Dull Gulls? The Work of the EEP Charadriiformes Taxon Advisory Group Achim Johann
The Use of a Social Primate in Public Demonstrations Michelle Povada
Letters to the Editor
Book Reviews
Annual Reports
International Zoo News
Recent Articles


John Tuson's Letter to the Editor in this issue contains some extremely complimentary remarks about I.Z.N. Had these remarks been all that the letter contained, I hope I would have had sufficient sense of proportion to reject it for publication. Indeed, they were so excessively complimentary that I suspect Mr Tuson had for once allowed his enthusiasm to overwhelm his critical faculty. But only in the first paragraph; for he then went on to pinpoint the magazine's most glaring fault – briefly, International Zoo News contains too little zoo news.

Mr Tuson lists four major developments of 1999, at London Zoo and three U.S. collections, which received no mention in I.Z.N. Unfortunately, however, he does not say what his own sources of information on these projects were. I received no press release from London Zoo about their new `Web of Life' exhibit; in fact, I only read about it in a daily newspaper, The Times. This did not surprise me, as I have always found London Zoo reluctant to divulge information, even when asked. Scanning the year's issues of EAZA News, I could find no reference to the exhibit there, either. (The first issue of 2000, though, does have a report on one Web of Life project, and this is reprinted on p. 123, below.) And the newsletter of the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, normally a useful source of national news, is currently undergoing a major overhaul and has not appeared for a year and a half.

The three U.S. items seem to have been similarly under-publicised. Looking through the Exhibits and Design section of the 1999 issues of AZA Communiqué, I found a reference to the Bronx's `Congo Gorilla Forest' in the August issue – but only a half-column of text, without illustrations, with nothing to suggest that it is a development of major significance. And neither Philadelphia's primate house nor Denver's aquarium seems to have received any publicity at all in their national zoo association's monthly publication. So it seems that failure to report important new projects is a problem not confined to I.Z.N.

None of this, of course, exonerates me from all blame in the matter. If the important zoo news doesn't come to me of its own accord, I need to become, as John Tuson suggests, `a little more proactive in seeking out that news.' So as a first move in that direction, most copies of this issue which go to zoos will be sent out with an accompanying letter to the director, pointing out that I.Z.N. has always depended for much of its content on the active help of zoos, and asking to be put on their mailing list for any press releases, newsletters etc. the zoo may issue. And where appropriate, I'll try in future to send specific requests for reports on any major projects I hear about. One of my predecessors, Gerard van Dam (editor, 1953–1973), sometimes sent out a hundred letters in a week asking for material. Proactivity on that heroic scale is, perhaps, too much to aim for; but it will be interesting to see whether a more modest effort on my part will help to bring about the improvement John Tuson is asking for.

Nicholas Gould

International Zoo News – cumulative index published

A cumulative index to I.Z.N. Vols 39–46 (1992–1999) has been compiled and is now available, either on disk or as a paper print-out. The disk version is in WordPerfect 5 (which should be easily convertible into most modern PC word-processor formats). The printed version is supplied unbound on loose A4 sheets. Price for disk or paper version, £5.00 (including postage and packing worldwide). Please send payment with order to the I.Z.N. office. (To avoid the inconvenience and expense of transferring a small sum of money internationally, overseas readers may add the payment to their next subscription if they wish.)


Dear Sir,

In a recent editorial you called for comments and suggestions on the possible future role of I.Z.N. as the magazine approaches its fiftieth anniversary. I am sure that I will speak for many readers when I say that I hope there will be no fundamental changes to I.Z.N.'s content and approach as we enter the 21st century, for the magazine is excellent as it is. The latest issue (Vol. 46, No. 8) illustrates this excellence with its broad spread of first-class articles covering zoo history (Bernhard Blaskiewitz on Berlin's elephants), new exhibits (an exciting-sounding aviary in Dresden), and zoo philosophy (Donna Fitzroy Hardy's musings on the role of domestic animals in zoos), as well as a fascinating account of zoos in Colombia and Peru, and a great deal more besides. It is this catholic range of material which I appreciate in I.Z.N., and which makes the magazine an essential read.

However, there is one area where, if it would be unfair to go so far as to say that I.Z.N. is failing, the magazine could certainly do better. News – zoo news – is not International Zoo News's strong point. Let me elaborate a little. In 1999 London Zoo opened a new invertebrate house – its most important new development for 25 years. Philadelphia Zoo opened a new primate house, built at a cost of $24 million. A new aquarium – Ocean Journey – opened in Denver, Colorado, at a cost not far short of $100 million. And at the Bronx Zoo the `Congo Gorilla Forest' was completed and, if local press reports are to be believed, set new standards of zoo exhibit design. And yet not one of these new developments was reported on in I.Z.N. In fact, three of the four places mentioned above were not featured in I.Z.N. at all during 1999 – and neither were zoos as diverse and important as Toronto, Madrid, Seattle, Cologne, Lisbon and Twycross, amongst many others.

I do sympathise with you over these omissions – but only a little. Of course you depend on receiving information and news if you are to publish it; but perhaps you should be a little more proactive in seeking out that news. Blaming the inefficiency of zoos' P.R. departments, or the puzzling reluctance of zoos to publicise their good works, is all very well, but ultimately it is the editor's responsibility to ferret out information. I.Z.N. is already an outstanding magazine – I do not know of any other, in any area, which reaches its standard. But if its news reporting was so comprehensive that we readers could know that, if it happened in the zoo world, it would be in I.Z.N., then the magazine would be even better.

Yours faithfully,

John Tuson,
P.O. Box 139,
Lindi Region,


Dear Sir,

The best way to save biodiversity is to protect the natural habitats in which animals and plants are found. However, we all know that this is still wishful thinking, and that every day large areas are destroyed. Meanwhile, zoo-based breeding programmes are successfully saving at least some threatened animal species.

Snakes are among the more popular animals in zoos, but if we take a closer look at the species involved, we will discover that only a relatively small number of species are kept, and among those species only a few are actually in need of conservation. Further, many species seen in zoos are also kept and bred in large numbers in private collections. In my view it would therefore be wise to place the commonly kept and bred species in private hands, and use zoos' space and efforts for species which are really in need of captive-breeding programmes.

If we take as an example one of the most commonly kept snakes, the boa constrictor, we find that it is kept in 271 collections (Table 1). This species is also represented in huge numbers in private collections, and breeding results are so good that it should not be necessary to take any more animals from the wild, though this still happens regularly. Therefore I suggest it would be very useful for zoos to give their stock (for example on breeding loan) to private collectors, and use the space for other, rarer and/or threatened species.

If every zoo which now keeps boa constrictors were to concentrate – in cooperation with a conservation society – on a rare or threatened species, much more biodiversity could be saved. In cooperation with a herpetological society, private individuals could be contacted who were willing to cooperate in such a programme to build up a healthy captive population. In this way one zoo, in cooperation with, say, 15 or 20 private herpetologists, could do a lot to save at least one species. As part of such a programme, also, funds could be raised to protect the natural habitat of the species in question.

And there really are enough species which are in need of captive-breeding programmes. Chris Banks of Melbourne Zoo recently made a list of rare, threatened and potentially threatened snakes of the Philippines, and no fewer than 31 species are mentioned on this list! A similar figure would, unfortunately, apply to many other countries.

Since the cost of a breeding programme for a snake is not as high as for larger species, I hope this suggestion may give at least some zoos the idea of putting some effort into rare snake breeding.

Yours faithfully,

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

Table 1. Boa constrictors in zoos. (Source: ISIS, September 1999)

No. of collections
No. of animals
Boa sp.
Boa constrictor
Boa constrictor (subspecific hybrid)
Boa constrictor constrictor
Boa constrictor imperator
Boa constrictor occidentalis
Boa constrictor ortoni
Note – as not all zoos yet report their animals to ISIS, the actual number kept is probably much higher.


MISTER ZOO: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF DR. CHARLES SCHROEDER by Douglas G. Myers with Lynda Rutledge Stephenson. The Zoological Society of San Diego, 1999. 271 pp., hardback. ISBN 0–911461–15–9. US$28.00.

Dr Charles Robbins Schroeder (1901–1990) was a towering giant. A long-time San Diego Zoo director, he was a respected leader in the international zoo fraternity. In a smooth, entertaining style, the current executive director of San Diego Zoo traces Dr Schroeder's childhood in New York City, through his successful and productive life in the zoo field into the twilight years. After graduating college, he moved back and forth between San Diego Zoo and New York, where he worked at Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River, and briefly at the Bronx Zoo. As a young veterinarian at San Diego Zoo (1932–37) he not only functioned as the clinician, pathologist and research director, but also as grounds manager and food purchasing agent. He would travel south of the border to Mexico, buy horses, bring them back to the zoo and help process them for animal food. Money was tight, and in order to help the zoo, he produced picture postcards in the lab at night to be sold at the front gate the following day. He learned the art of creative fund-raising first hand from his mentor Dr Harry Wegeforth, the legendary founder of the zoo.

Mrs Belle Benchley, then the director of the zoo, selected Dr Schroeder as her successor, and in 1953 he made a triumphant return to San Diego. At that time the annual budget of the zoo was half a million dollars (it had increased to eight million when he left in 1972). The new director immediately dived into the zoo's main battle, money. Administrative chores also awaited him, including establishment of the staff organizational chart, and job descriptions. With inexhaustible energy he continued to build the zoo into one of the greatest in the world. As the foundation of the zoo became more secure, he managed the institution into arguably the most financially sound zoo in the world. When he made regular rounds of the zoo, he carried the `little black memo book', which soon became the linchpin of his legend. As an administrator Dr Schroeder was tough and demanding, but not dictatorial. His former subordinates recalled that as a leader, he set the goals and drove the team. One of them said: `He was like a strict father, but he also had a smile that stretched from ear to ear and nose to chin. And when you made him happy, all you needed was that smile. It was a very rewarding experience, and you knew you wanted to have it again.'

The final one-third of the volume is devoted to the planning stage, birth and development of San Diego Wild Animal Park, an institution which represents Dr Schroeder's dream. He envisioned a huge animal park, a Noah's Ark for the 21st century, in the outskirts of his beloved city. At an age when his contemporaries were retired, this stubborn visionary pursued the dream with dogged determination, eventually overcoming every obstacle that stood in his way. His effort led to the opening of the 1,800 acre (728 ha) park in 1972, and over the years it established itself as a first-rate institution with impressive animal breeding records.

This publication would have made a finer tribute to the great man and an addition to the world's zoo archives were it not for inaccurate, misleading and questionable accounts throughout the book. A few minor errors may be inevitable when writing a sizable volume like this one. Yet some are so apparent. Here are some of the types of glaring errors. On page 45, it states that the first giant panda ever to be seen in this country was on exhibit in 1939. The first of the species arrived in 1936, and the second in 1938. It is noted on page 81 that Hagenbeck Zoo is `one of the world's oldest', while in fact, opened in 1907, Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark is one of the younger among the well-known. Zoos were established in Vienna (1752), Paris (1794), London (1828), Dublin (1830), Bristol (1835), Manchester (1836), Amsterdam (1838), Antwerp (1843), Berlin (1844), Rotterdam (1857) and Frankfurt (1858), before America's entry into the picture.

There is a tendency in this book to claim that San Diego Zoo and Dr Schroeder were the pioneers in some key areas, such as `animal pathology'. On page 40 it states, `. . . in a time when detailed autopsies, an emphasis on hygiene, and thorough studies of animal physiology were considered new ideas in the zoological world, Dr Schroeder was one of the first to instigate all three.' They may have been new in San Diego, but not at other zoos, in this country or overseas. As early as 1870, Dr Max Schmidt, a veterinarian and director of Frankfurt Zoo and later Berlin Zoo, published a handbook titled Comparative Pathology and Pathological Anatomy of Mammals and Birds (in German). On this side of the Atlantic, in 1923 H. Fox, based on his work in Philadelphia Zoo, published a landmark volume, Diseases in Wild Mammals and Birds. Concerning the bar-less, moated exhibit system, `Dr Wegeforth was the first in the United States to experiment with moats' (p. 80). The book then states, `Soon the San Diego Zoo's moats would be copied by zoos worldwide' (p. 81). Actually, the credit as the first in the country should go to Denver Zoo's bear exhibit, built in 1917. In 1928, a large-scale adoption of the Hagenbeck style made a debut in Detroit Zoo, and Brookfield Zoo followed suit in 1934. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that San Diego was among the last major American zoos to adopt the Hagenbeck system.

On Dr Schroeder himself, the book says he was born in Brooklyn (p. 18), while the inside dust-jacket says he was born in the Bronx. Also, readers may assume that Charles Bieler was the direct successor to Dr Schroeder (p. 128). However, announcements in the AAZPA Newsletter reveal otherwise. Dr Donald J. Kintner was Dr Schroeder's successor, assuming the management of the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park (September 1972); Dr Kintner resigned his position effective immediately, while Charles L. Bieler was named interim zoo director in March 1973, and formally appointed director as of 26 September 1973. Speaking of the AAZPA (American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums; now AZA), it is referred to as `American Association of Zoos, Parks, and Aquariums' (pp. 86, 94). CITES, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is given similar treatment, appearing as the `Convention for International Treaty for Endangered Species' (p. 95). As for government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is named `Federal Department of Agriculture' (p. 221). Also problematic are some of the names of people (e.g. Henri instead of Heini Hediger; Reed instead of W. Reid Blair) and animals (e.g. Gibraltar ape, Galapagos turtle, pronghorn deer, African Cape dog).

After glancing, one begins to wonder how much trust can be put in the content of this book, realizing that the general public would readily accept it as truth. However, to put it in perspective, this book merely represents a trend which has become evident in recent years. Such categories as marketing, public relations and special events used to constitute support activities in the zoo field. Over the years, these categories have become the mainstream. It might be noted at this point that a modern zoo requires a multi-disciplinary approach to operate, since animal care personnel and managers alone cannot fulfil all the functions. Without a doubt, a need exists to strengthen and broaden the link between zoos and the general public for institutional survival. Recently, a British colleague commented that the area in which American zoos exceed their European counterparts is marketing. Those who have made measurable contributions to promote zoos in this endeavor must be commended. The general tone and style of Mister Zoo appear to lean toward the essence of marketing, instead of the mind of a zoologist.

Yet there must be a fine balance between jubilant portrayal of zoos and the integrity of information, between entertaining story-telling and historical perspective. Animal collections, as well as collection managers and zoologists, no longer seem to command an important role in the core zoo circle as they used to. Hand in hand with this tendency, it appears, informational accuracy has begun to take the back seat. In recent months, this has been noted in the publications of even the most paramount of zoo associations. This course of history may be irreversible. It would not be surprising if we were to witness more fluff than substance, political correctness rather than practical animal husbandry, and fairy-tale-like accounts over harsh reality of nature, in publications and electronic media. Certainly, this does not signal an encouraging note either for the future of wildlife, or for that of zoos.

Ken Kawata

WILDESEL by Gertrud and Helmut Denzau. Thorbecke, Stuttgart, 1999. 221 pp., 128 illus., hardback. ISBN 3–7995–9081–1. DM79.00 (c. £26 or US$40).

A subspecies of wild ass is one of the few kinds of big game to have been discovered in a zoo. In 1882 the Hamburg animal dealer Carl Hagenbeck acquired an unusual, bluish-grey wild ass with black leg stripes but no shoulder stripe, quite unlike any African wild ass otherwise then known. Although aware of its uniqueness, Hagenbeck was a merchant, not a zoologist, and thus in no position to give it a scientific name. It wasn't until two years later that Theodor Noack described it as Asinus taeniopus somaliensis – appropriately enough in the journal Der Zoologische Garten. The subspecies has since been reclassified as Equus asinus somaliensis. This first specimen was sold in 1884 to the London Zoo on the stipulation that Hagenbeck supply the British Museum (Natural History) with skins to enable British zoologists to confirm Noack's new description.

Wild asses are not common in zoos. For one thing, all subspecies of the two or three recognized species (depending on which taxonomist one's consulting) are rare, considered by the IUCN to be at best vulnerable, mostly endangered. One subspecies each of the African (E. asinus) and Asiatic (E. hemionus) wild ass has become extinct within historical times. (The kiang, the Tibetan wild ass, is frequently considered to be a species separate from the other Asiatic forms – E. kiang. Yet another species, the European wild ass, E. hydruntinus, only disappeared perhaps 7,000 years ago.)

Wild asses are not considered very attractive zoo animals. I know of no language where `you ass' is considered a compliment. It's a brave zoo director who exhibits more than one kind of wild ass, not least, of course, because most visitors wouldn't appreciate the difference between the various subspecies or perhaps even the species. In English and Chinese (and presumably other languages as well) there's only the one vernacular term for both the African and Asiatic species. (The Chinese too, however, call the kiang a kiang, although they pronounce it more like `djiang'.) In German E. hemionus is known as the `horse-ass' or more commonly `half-ass' (Halbesel), that is, a donkey halfway towards being a horse. The French have simply Gallicized hemionus to hémione. The Russians, for their part, refer to all forms of E. hemionus as kulan, a term reserved in most languages for one subspecies, the Turkmenian wild ass, E. h. kulan. In these three languages the term `wild ass' is reserved for E. asinus, which is only fair as the domestic ass is universally considered a descendant of the African wild ass.

The book Wildesel, literally `Wild Asses', is devoted to both the African and Asiatic wild asses. (Not even a German would think well of a book with such a cumbersome title as, say, Wild- und Halbesel!) Browsing through internet bookshops suggests that it is the only monograph on the subject in a Western European language at least, and it is an excellent and attractively designed book. Helmut and Gertrud Denzau are a husband-and-wife team of wildlife photographers and journalists with features in BBC Wildlife, Natural History and Geo among their credits. Since first coming across Indian wild asses in 1984 in their last stronghold, the Rann of Cutch in north-western India just east of the Indus delta, they have obviously been fascinated by the only surviving wild equids that aren't covered with stripes. In two dozen photo safaris to reserves ranging from Somalia to Mongolia and holding six of the seven surviving forms of wild ass, they have accumulated a beautiful archive of images. (The Nubian wild ass is the only form that they have yet to observe in the wild.) Historical illustrations, mostly in colour, dating from the 18th century offer an attractive balance to their beautiful photographs. The eight-page bibliography appears to have actually been used, and not just listed for effect, in writing a fine natural – and cultural – history of these wild equids.

Zoos too find their place in the Denzaus' monograph. With the exception of a historical photograph of the now-extinct Syrian wild ass taken in Schönbrunn Zoo in 1929, all of the photographs were apparently taken in the wild. But the sections on the history of the discovery, classification of and research on wild asses includes pages of pertinent references to the equids in menageries and zoos. Carl Hagenbeck's grandson Carl-Heinrich organized an expedition to Iran in 1953 and 1954, the last campaign to capture wild animals that the Hagenbecks would execute themselves, bringing back to Hamburg a small herd of onager, Persian wild ass, from which virtually all of today's zoo specimens descend. In the guidebook to their Tierpark published after completion of the 5,000-square-metre enclosure in 1955, they wrote that `It is the purpose of modern zoological parks to become asylums for wildlife in a progressing civilization that is robbing them of their natural environment.' The Denzaus in their beautiful book show that there is still hope for wild asses in the wild.

Herman Reichenbach

Cheetah booklets available

The Wassenaar Wildlife Breeding Centre has published two booklets on aspects of cheetah captive management. Both are in English, and were written by Wendy van Oorschot of the Van Hall Institute for Animal Management, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

Management Guidelines for Mother-reared Cheetahs in Captivity provides practical recommendations for those concerned with the care and welfare of cheetah mothers and their young in captivity. Cheetah Single Cub Litters in Captivity offers deeper insight into the problems one may experience with cheetah litters when only one cub is born.

Any zoo staff who are interested in obtaining one or both of these publications can receive them free of charge by ordering from Wassenaar Wildlife Breeding Centre, Fax 0031–70–5119268.



Summary of the Annual Report 1999

In 1999 Burgers' Ocean, the fourth large-scale ecodisplay, was already a main attraction at the zoo. This mega-aquarium, containing over eight million litres of artificial seawater, will be opened officially in spring 2000, but from June 1998 visitors have been allowed to take a look inside the Ocean during construction. Planning started in 1994 and construction in 1996. In autumn 1998 a first 1,200-m3 tank was put into use showing a rocky shore. In 1999 almost every two months another new tank became ready to be populated with fish or invertebrates.

In Burgers' Ocean visitors will be `immersed' into a South-East Asian seascape. The track starts at a tropical beach and leads down into a lagoon with numerous schools of colourful fish and corals. Here the visitor enters the fringing reef and meets the spectacular creatures from this enchanting ecosystem. In two separate tanks even the nocturnal life can be observed. Leaving the coral reef one encounters the open ocean. A most impressive tank containing three million litres forms the mysterious exhibit for pelagic sharks, rays and smaller fishes. Visitors watch them looming up from behind a shipwreck or out of the dark through a 6 ´ 21 m panoramic panel. Even experienced divers and biologists are really impressed by the realistic imitation of the coral sea and underwater experience. Newspaper headlines are already using phrases like `diving without getting wet'. Although the Ocean has not been opened officially, this new project has already become famous in The Netherlands and abroad, causing an increase in visitor numbers to over 1.5 million in 1999.

Notable births in 1999 included 2.1 African darter (Anhinga rufa) from two clutches within six months. The offspring were parent-reared in the 13,500 m2 rainforest ecodisplay, Burgers' Bush. A couple of free-flying turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were also parent-reared in the neighbouring indoor ecodisplay, Burgers' Desert.

The primate section reported the birth of no fewer than five chimpanzees, all of whom are being reared within the world-famous family group, which now numbers 34.

Another important event was the birth of two Sri Lankan leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) in November 1999. There are only about 40 leopards of this highly endangered subspecies within the EEP, and the animals in Europe are all related to each other. The EEP coordinator therefore asked Burgers' Zoo to import an unrelated female from Singapore Zoo. She arrived in Arnhem in August 1999, and as early as November she gave birth to two healthy cubs. Although it is her first litter, she is raising them perfectly.

Unfortunately a newborn male aardvark and male blue duiker (Cephalophus monticola) did not survive. Burgers' Zoo is the European studbook keeper for both species, as well as for greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and king vulture (Sarcorhamphus papa).

Marc Damen


The zoological park in Hamburg entered 1999 with a new name. Known since its inauguration in 1907 as `Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark', it is now called simply `Tierpark Hagenbeck'. The zoo, still owned and run by fifth- and sixth-generation Hagenbecks, attracted only as many visitors in 1999, unfortunately, as it did during the Hagenbecks' sesquicentennial in 1998: 700,000. The weather, especially during the summer, was much better last year than the year before, but apparently weather too good, too warm, keeps potential visitors from coming to the zoo as potently as a dismal season can. The beginning of the year 2000 found the Tierpark in much the same state as it was at the end of 1998: waiting for the fulfilment of agreements and contracts to supplement its income and ensure its financial security. (See I.Z.N. 45:8, 468–475.) Specifically, the sale of property and the construction of a hospital to be built in conjunction with a zoo-owned hotel have yet to be finalized. Thus, no new zoo construction was completed last year, although work was begun on a new, attractively landscaped, 360-m2 enclosure for North China leopards, four times the size of the current enclosure, as well as on a large new breeding aviary for red-and-green macaws. Both new enclosures will be opened to the public this spring. The one for the leopards was financed by the Stiftung Tierpark Hagenbeck, a foundation supporting the zoo. The macaw aviary was paid for by the Verein der Freunde des Tierparks Hagenbeck, a friends-of-the-zoo society. Both organizations were founded only in 1998. As the society's and zoo's official magazine, the third the Tierpark has started in its history, the first issue of the semi-annual Hagenbeck Tierpark-Magazin came out last autumn.

If the sale of land for the hospital project does come through, the zoo will lose 1.5 ha, including the site of the Troparium (the aquarium-cum-terrarium), the adjacent orang-utan house, and paddocks for various hoofed stock. The ungulate collection continues to be downsized: the Tierpark disposed last year of Grevy's zebra, guanaco and llama, and gaur are on their way out. On the other hand, a wealthy `rhinocerophile' pledged to donate a pair of African, presumably white, rhinos last year as a 60th-birthday gift to himself and the zoo, and the Stiftung Tierpark Hagenbeck is well on its way to collecting the sum necessary to build an appropriate enclosure for them and cheetahs. A new aquarium-terrarium and glassed dome for the great apes remain on the drawing boards as well.

The inventory at the year's end counted 2,492 animals representing 358 species. Two dozen species, mostly mammals, were successfully bred and reared. That includes 1.1 great red kangaroos, 1.1 ring-tailed lemurs, 0.0.1 hamadryas baboon, 3.1 mandrills, 1.0 Sumatran orang-utan, 10 maras, 2.2 oriental small-clawed otters, 1.0 Persian wild ass, 2.1 alpacas, 1.0 Bactrian camel, 1.1 Reeves' muntjac, 1.0 wapiti, 1.1 axis deer, 2.1 greater kudu, 1.1 American bison, 1.3 blackbuck, 1.3 springbok, two Himalayan tahrs and 0.1 aoudad. Other than waterfowl, the only bird species successfully reared in 1999 was one, as yet unsexed, red-and-green macaw. The Troparium reported the successful hatchings of a matamata (Chelys fimbriata) and a Burmese python.

Specifically for the year 2000, the Tierpark Hagenbeck will host two special projects. Adjacent to the elephant house an exhibition centre will be constructed, opening in June, offering visitors all kinds of information on elephant conservation. The pavilion will be an outpost of the Expo 2000 world's fair in Hannover. Opera enthusiasts can enjoy Georges Bizet's Carmen from 4 June through 1 October. The Tierpark's largest pond, virtually a small lake, has been drained to permit construction of a moated stage that can be flooded when not in use. Germany's largest tent will be constructed over the stage and the surrounding bank supporting the tiers for 2,000 people. Neither rain nor sun will then be an excuse not to visit, at least, Hagenbeck's version of Carmen.

Herman Reichenbach


Extracts from Help Newsletter No. 21


At Howletts, 13 successful births were recorded, most notably that of another moloch gibbon – the tenth surviving infant of this critically endangered species to be born here. Our population of nearly 40 Javan langurs (Trachypithecus auratus) is now divided between Howletts and Port Lympne, with each collection holding three groups. This has doubled to six the number of males in a breeding situation, and allows for two poorly represented genetic lines to be increased. To integrate the 1998 Sumatran banded leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophos) arrivals with the existing Howletts population, a sequence of moves and introductions was required. Each one relied on a successful integration to allow the next step to proceed. As introductions of unrelated adults are often fraught with problems of dominance disputes and compatibility, we were greatly relieved that our plans went surprisingly smoothly. At present we have pure groups of three P. melalophos subspecies, and a fourth subspecies awaits the maturity of a male who will be introduced next year. The grizzled leaf monkeys (P. comata) have had a trouble-free year and we await the first captive birth of this species.

The total number of gorillas at the two parks grew to 63 (28.35). At Howletts, the 12-year-old female Tambabi was removed from Kouillou's group as she was not coping well with his violent displays. She was placed in an enclosure next to Kifu's group, with the intention of introducing her. We then discovered that she was pregnant, which posed a real problem, as adult males often will not accept infants that are not theirs. In due course, she gave birth to a female infant. Kifu showed a lot of interest in the baby through the weld-mesh, but we could not tell if he was happy about it or not. Tragically, he must have managed to grab hold of the baby's arm overnight, as one morning we arrived to find that her arm had been pulled off; the injury was so severe that she had to be euthanased. Later, Tambabi was successfully integrated into Kifu's group, where she has settled in very well and has been mated, so we are hoping she will fall pregnant again.


After several years of deliberately breeding very few small cats, it was decided to allow some kittens this season, so that our `senior citizens' could have a last litter and our younger cats could get started. Births at Howletts included three servals, three ocelots and a caracal. But also, most importantly, two female clouded leopards [see the photo in I.Z.N. 46:6, p. 358 – Ed.] were born to our young pair Chiang and Thai. Howletts is still the only animal park in mainland U.K. to have bred these rare and beautiful animals, perhaps the most difficult of all cats to breed in captivity. After the birth, the surrounding area was left as isolated as possible for the next six or seven weeks. Flying in the face of conventional zoo keeping, however, the father, Chiang, was left in with Thai and her cubs, as we felt it best to keep the situation as unaltered as possible, knowing how close the pair were and also how sensitive clouded leopards are to change. Thai did an instinctive and immaculate job of raising her first litter. She was hand-raised herself, and it is almost unheard-of for a hand-raised `cloudie' to care for her own young.

The Indian desert cats at Port Lympne have been prevented from breeding for over six years, due to the difficulties of finding homes for their young. But we decided to let the female Tamil breed this year, before her age or health prevent it – most of our desert cats have suffered renal failure from the age of eight. In August she gave birth to two kittens, and proved to be a good mother. New arrivals at Port Lympne were a pair of margays from the Ridgeway Trust. Their enclosure, probably the largest anywhere for captive margays, reaches a height of 21 feet (6.4 m) in places, and allows the cats to show off their arboreal behaviour. It is decorated with tree branches which stretch up to the roof, no fewer than 70 branches form aerial walkways, and numerous tree stumps adorn the floor. A waterfall runs down over big rocks and boulders into a large pond. Palms and other sub-tropical plants give cover to the enclosure floor. In giving the cats as natural a setting as possible, our hope is that they will settle quickly and hopefully reproduce in 2000.

The Howletts pack of dholes once again presented us with pups, this time four (2.2). It is fascinating to watch these attractive dogs in their family unit with all members taking part in raising the young. Unfortunately, however, the hunting dogs at Port Lympne did not repeat their breeding successes of the past two years; last year's mother, Ashanti, had three dead pups delivered by caesarean section after she became worryingly overdue. An old female maned wolf died in September 1998, and we moved her even older mate, Pedro, in with our four females. A week later he staggered out of the shed in pursuit of a young female. He became a father again in January 1999; both he and his family are doing well. Two litters of bush dogs died after three days, and it was subsequently discovered that the mothers had not been lactating. Before arriving at Port Lympne, both females had received contraceptive injections, and it is possible that this affected their ability to produce milk – the contraceptive used is known to cause abnormal lactation in felids, and it could be that the same effect occurs in canids.

The Barbary lioness (Panthera leo leo) Jade had a cub, the first in the park since she herself was born nine years ago. Unfortunately it died of a mystery lung virus at 16 days. But she produced two more cubs in July 1999, filmed by a hidden video camera. One failed to thrive and died, but at the time of writing (12 August) the other cub is fat, precocious and doing well. Our parks have maintained and successfully bred Barbary lions from as far back as 1979, when our foundation stock of sibling cubs arrived from the U.S. National Zoo. Although we have always believed our stock to be pure, and have therefore tried to continue breeding from them without diluting the bloodline with lions from other geographical areas, most other collections seem to have lost interest, and the few zoos still holding them are now faced with an ageing population of stock probably past breeding age. Ever since the launch of the programme, a major stumbling block has been the fact that many zoologists are not convinced that the Barbary is a true subspecies. But now DNA fingerprinting may provide the answer. Port Lympne has joined forces with Rabat Zoo, Morocco, and the U.K.-based charity Wildlink International who, in conjunction with Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, are undertaking the research. Samples will be taken from known Barbary lion museum specimens from around the world, and there are even plans to excavate and examine lion skeletons from sites of gladiatorial contests in ancient Rome. These samples can then be compared with Rabat Zoo's and Port Lympne's animals and other lions, and hopefully establish once and for all a subspecies status. Early results are said to be promising, if not conclusive, but we expect more definite results by the spring of this year.


Two new bongo bulls arrived at Howletts from Germany and the Czech Republic. However, the past twelve months have seen an unusually high number of bongo deaths, largely due to circumstances beyond our control. A female, Bomilli, gave birth to twin male calves in September 1998; despite much research and investigation, we were unable to find another example of a natural twin bongo birth in captivity anywhere in the world. But unfortunately Bomilli did not pass the placenta, and after five days became very ill, and died despite every effort being made to save her. While the twins were with their mother they had been progressing well, but when they were removed they ate a quantity of straw, something that their digestive systems were not developed enough for, and we lost them both. Shortly afterwards, old age caught up with one of our original females, Bomilli's mother Siku, and she had to be euthanased at 15 – an admirable age for the species. On a happier note, we had two (1.1) bongo births in July 1999; both calves were integrated back into the herd within five days of their birth, and are healthy and strong.

It was a great year for the black rhinos at Port Lympne, with four healthy calves born between September 1998 and June 1999, three of them to first-time mothers. Two more calves were born in October and November, making a total of six black rhino births in 14 months. All the calves are being mother-reared and are doing well. Port Lympne has bred black rhinos since 1977. A total of 20 calves have been born since then, 15 of whom survived. This makes Port Lympne one of the most successful black rhino breeders worldwide, along with Dvur Králové in the Czech Republic, where 22 calves have been born to date.


The African elephant herd at Howletts continued to grow, with Stavit giving birth to her first calf, a very healthy female named Justa, in October 1998. Justa has become quite a character within the herd and enjoys playing with the other three calves, who have grown very quickly but still display the same playfulness when we enter their enclosures. The two bulls Ebeni and Jums have been sexually active this year. Ebeni mated Masa, Tammi and also Lara, and we are really hopeful that he has managed to impregnate them. He will then be a `proven' bull, giving us another bloodline to work with. If all goes well, we could be in for a spate of births in 2001. Jums has mated Shara, and going by his past record it would not be surprising if she also gives birth in August 2001. Interestingly, both Ebeni and Jums have come into musth. This is the first time we have experienced this strange change in their general behaviour. It is quite daunting, as they become extremely dangerous and need to be handled very carefully. Luckily we have not encountered any major problems, even though we have not shut them away in their stalls, as many other collections do. They have both remained outside with the rest of the herd, but obviously we separate them if we think they are becoming too aggressive towards the cows and their young.

At Port Lympne, very sadly, our little Asian bull calf, Ashoka, died at the age of 11 months due to osteoporosis. Although short, his life was full of fun and he spent every waking hour playing and exploring new things. He loved going for walks around the park, where he took delight in meeting people and, of course, he won the hearts of everybody he met. Although his death was a great setback to the elephant section, it was an invaluable and cherished experience, one that has hardened our resolve to continue and hopefully succeed in breeding Asian elephants. Late in 1999, several more elephants came from overseas to join the herd. La Petite, a 13-year-old female, arrived in October as part of a breeding cooperation between us and Ganserndorf Safari Park, Austria. Two other elephants from Ganserndorf will spend the winter at Port Lympne, hopefully returning to Austria next spring in the early stages of pregnancy. Finally, Rotterdam Zoo agreed to send us five of their elephants – three cows and two young bull calves – whom they needed to move due to successful breeding and an acute shortage of space. This will bring the number of elephants at Port Lympne to 14, with the two visitors from Austria making 16, dramatically increasing our breeding capacity.

Overseas projects

The Congolese gorilla project has continued to thrive despite the enormous difficulties that have become the norm in an environment of political instability, rampant banditry and general anarchy. Currently the Lefini sanctuary is operating successfully, with 21 gorillas, some living free and some under human supervision but spending most of their time in the forest. Sadly, however, we have decided to suspend further confiscations of orphan gorillas until we have a better idea of what the future holds for the ones we already have – the sanctuary's capacity has already been stretched, so to accept more orphans might jeopardise those already here. There is no accurate estimate of the number of gorillas being killed in Congo, but the large numbers of automatic weapons and the lack of employment have vastly increased the bushmeat trade. National and international laws mean that it is next to impossible for these orphans to find a home outside Congo; but the cost, danger and difficulty of finding and supplying another site in the country is unfeasible at the moment.

At our other site, Mpassa in Gabon, we now have 11 (4.7) gorillas, all under five years of age. They are doing extremely well, adapting to the forest and to each other. At the time of writing plans are in hand to send out two Howletts-born males to join them; they will be the first captive-born gorillas ever to be repatriated to semi-wild conditions in Africa.