International Zoo News Vol. 48/1 (No. 306) January/February 2001


Half a Century of International Zoo News – Anniversary Messages
International Zoo News – the First Two Years John Tuson
The Arks of Beijing Herman Reichenbach
Columbids and Psittacines in Japanese Zoos, 1997 Ken Kawata
Recent Zoo Books in German and Dutch: Sources for Historical Studies A.C van Bruggen
Some Notes on Cuban Zoos Harro Strehlow
Letter to the Editor
Book Reviews
International Zoo News

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International Zoo News is something of an oddity among the world's specialist journals. It has always been a small-scale production – a `cottage industry' is the term I sometimes apply to it when explaining my job to outsiders. None of its editors except Geoffrey Schomberg had previously had more than a very peripheral experience of zoo work. Although for more than half its existence its survival has been financially dependent upon a great zoo owner and the foundation he established, I.Z.N. has retained almost complete editorial independence and never become a mouthpiece for any particular sub-group within the zoo community. It is, in short, an amateur production whose readership consists mostly of professionals. The fact that it has even so managed to survive for half a century suggests that this apparent handicap may in fact be a source of strength.

Nothing could have been more amateur than the magazine's origins. But its founder, the 17-year-old Bent Jørgensen, was an amateur not merely in the negative sense of not being a professional, but much more importantly in the word's primary etymological sense – he loved zoos. Only the most passionate enthusiasm could have led this teenager – living in a remote (and zoo-less) corner of Europe, working at a poorly-paid job, and possessing only such rudimentary duplicating facilities as were available at the time – to launch an English-language international publication for zoos. And only his extraordinary determination – and, let's admit it, an element of chutzpah – could have enabled him to keep it going for two years and win the cooperation and support of many leading zoos around the world. (The same qualities must explain Mr Jørgensen's subsequent career, in which, after a variety of jobs unconnected with animals, he obtained a zoology degree, worked at Copenhagen's Zoological Museum, and eventually became director of Copenhagen Zoo and a distinguished figure in the world zoo community.)

Enclosed with this issue of I.Z.N. is a near-facsimile of the very first number, which I hope will interest readers (and not cause too much embarrassment to Bent Jørgensen!). It might have been less misleading to reproduce one of Mr Jørgensen's later issues, for, as John Tuson points out below in his appraisal of the magazine's first two years, I.Z.N. was improving all the time, and the final edition of 1952 had ten pages and a number of photographs. By then, in fact, it had become so successful that it had outgrown its founder's limited resources in time and money; but luckily, a second proprietor and editor was ready to take it on.

Gerard van Dam was a Dutch zoo enthusiast who, by 1950, had met a number of European zoo directors. A public relations officer by training, he was shocked to learn from them how little international contact there was between zoos. In 1952 he found a copy of International Zoo News in a zoo library and, as he later wrote, `clearly realized that such an information bulletin could serve as a unique communication medium.' He became Bent Jørgensen's friend and co-worker, and then his successor. After a year's gap, Mr van Dam's first issue appeared in January 1954. (The magazine's numbering dates from this relaunch, which is why the current volume number is 48 rather than 51.) Thereafter for 20 years van Dam single-handedly edited the magazine as a `hobby' in the intervals of a full-time job. It grew steadily, from a total of 56 pages in 1954 to 196 in 1959 and 300 in 1973. It grew in influence, too; particularly in the early years, when the zoo community was fragmented and parochial to an extent hardly credible today, it was the principal medium through which zoos everywhere could keep in touch. In 1956 van Dam published a list containing 531 addresses of zoos all over the world – probably the most comprehensive of its kind ever issued up to that time. (A few years later, the first volume of the International Zoo Yearbook listed only 312 zoos.) For years, I.Z.N. printed annual zoo attendance figures and animal stock lists, when this information could not be found anywhere else. Hundreds of international exchanges of zoo animals were facilitated through the magazine; and it served as a clearing-house for new ideas on such topics as animal management, diet and housing.

At the end of 1973, when a severe illness compelled Gerard van Dam to give up producing I.Z.N., John Aspinall took over as proprietor. Without the generous subsidy which he and his foundation have ever since provided, it is very unlikely that the magazine could have survived to celebrate its first half-century. At this point, a note on the magazine's finances may be useful. The income from subscriptions is generally little more than sufficient to pay my salary and cover postage and office costs. This means that the John Aspinall Foundation pays almost all the printers' bills, which currently come to around £2,000 per issue. Over the past 12 years these bills have been rising, not merely with the general rate of inflation, but additionally to cover the growing size of the magazine. In 1989, the year I took over as editor, I.Z.N. totalled just 272 pages; last year's total was 556. Every one of these extra pages represents an additional cost to the Foundation. If readers paid an economic price for each copy, the subscription would need to be more than doubled.

Obviously the ever-increasing communication and cooperation between zoos over the past half-century has usurped many of the functions which I.Z.N. served in earlier years. It is hard today to imagine a world without the International Zoo Yearbook, Zoo Biology, ISIS, EEPs, SSPs, international studbooks. . . But even so, the niche which Bent Jørgensen discovered in 1951 still seems to exist. Circulation continues to creep upwards (though never as fast as I'd like!), and I.Z.N. is currently read in more than 50 countries. When van Dam was editor, he made several unsuccessful attempts to have I.Z.N. accepted as an official organ by various national and international zoo organisations; but many readers – including some whose messages are printed below – now regard its independence as one of the magazine's great assets, enabling it to promote free discussion of `taboo' topics such as the problem of bad zoos, the shortcomings of cooperative breeding programmes, and the extent to which zoos really promote the survival of endangered species, rather than merely using `conservation' as a convenient, politically correct slogan.

Some of the changes which have taken place during my years with I.Z.N. are responses to the opportunities presented by modern technology. In 1989 I typed out the text of each issue with two fingers on an Amstrad computer with a daisy-wheel printer (almost Dark Age equipment viewed from the 21st century, though at the time it seemed to me like the last word in technical wizardry); the pile of `daisy-wheeled' sheets was then sent to our printers, who had the job of typesetting the text and designing the layout. The first big change came in 1991–2, when I acquired first an IBM personal computer and shortly afterwards a scanner. The latter enabled me to input text for word-processing via `optical character recognition', a marvellous invention which has since saved me many thousand hours of tedious copy-typing. Finally, about seven years ago I went over to the PageMaker `desktop publishing' system, and since then the typesetting and layout has been my responsibility (all except the photos and some other graphic material, which at present I still leave for the printers to insert in the spaces I leave for them).

The latest innovations to affect I.Z.N. have been e-mail and the Internet. Thanks to the generous help of Richard Perron of Quantum Conservation, the text of each issue now appears online almost simultaneously with the printed version. So far this has had a beneficial effect on circulation, with a steady trickle of new subscribers who first heard about the magazine by seeing the website. The site (, which includes much other material as well as I.Z.N., has an efficient `search engine' which makes me wonder whether the work of indexing the printed volumes is worth the trouble. In particular, it is able to pick up all the minor references which for reasons of space have to be omitted from the printed indexes; thus, e.g., the website turned up five occurrences of `mountain tapir' from the last three years' issues, whereas the printed indexes show only one reference in nine years. (The advantage isn't all on one side: the indexes pinpoint page references, whereas the search engine – unless I'm using it wrong – only guides one to the issue and brief context of the word/s being sought.) Recently, aquarium-related items from I.Z.N. have also begun to be published on the website of Natural Habitats Ltd ( I am glad of this, as it raises the magazine's profile in the public aquarium industry, which I feel has always been under-represented among our readership.

I'd like to end this editorial on a personal note. Writing below, Gerard van Dam comments that when he was editing I.Z.N. he `always had a great deal of fun.' That goes for me too. He admits that it `cost a lot of time' as well; but no doubt, like me, he found that the effort and problems of the job were vastly outweighed by its pleasure and satisfaction. I've fortunately never been sent an elephant, as he was (see below); but I get some amusement from the mail which arrives addressed to the Subscriptions Department, Public Relations Manager, Book Review Editor, Office Supplies Purchaser, Advertising Department et al., all of whom are in practice just me in my three-metre by four-metre office. (Something once came addressed to the Head Penguin Keeper. . .) Perhaps the best part of the job is the contact it brings me with so many charming and interesting people around the world, I.Z.N.'s readers and contributors (two categories often, of course, embodied in the same person). My main regret is that I don't meet as many of these people, or visit as many zoos, as I'd like. But it would be ungrateful to grumble, when mail, phone, fax and e-mail bring so many friends to me right here in my office, and I'm sent a flow of publications which would make any zoo-collector's mouth water. At 59 years old, I'm unlikely to make it through to I.Z.N.'s centenary; but I hope at least to carry it on some way into its second half-century.

Nicholas Gould

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I published the first – very primitive – issue of International Zoo News in February 1951. But the beginning was made in December 1947, when I was 14 years old.

Since September 1946 I had been deeply fascinated with the world of zoological gardens. I lived in Rønne on the island of Bornholm and had never seen a zoo, but on 8 September a cousin returned from a holiday in Copenhagen. He knew of my interest in animal life and showed me a guide book from Copenhagen Zoo, which he had visited. I immediately realized that this was a kind of Eden – a place with all the animals that I had read of: elephants, hippos, chimps, ostriches, hummingbirds, crocodiles.

I bought the guide book from my cousin, and within the next few days started writing to zoos all over the world. I did not have any addresses, but I guessed that most larger cities would have zoos like the one in Copenhagen, so I just wrote to Zoo Amsterdam, Zoo London, Zoo Paris etc. And many replied, sending me guide books and postcards, often accompanied by personal letters informing me of new arrivals since the guide book was printed. This led to a correspondence with a number of friendly zoo directors who are now well-known names in zoo history, for example Grzimek in Frankfurt, Hediger in Basel, Sunier in Amsterdam, Katharina Heinroth in Berlin, Iles in Manchester, Gillespie in Edinburgh, and Belle J. Benchley in San Diego.

My friends at school knew all about cars. I knew who was the director of Antwerp Zoo, that there was a gorilla in Chicago named Bushman, that the zoo in Warsaw had been reopened, that Copenhagen Zoo expected to receive an okapi. My friends could not care less.

I felt a need to make use of all that information. So in December 1947 I created my own zoo magazine – Zoo-Nyt (Danish for `Zoo News'). It was hand-written, in one copy, and I was the editor, the writer, and the only reader! The first issue had short articles on an exhibition planned in the Hagenbeck Tierpark for 1948 on the occasion of the centenary of the Hagenbeck animal trading firm (I had the information from Niemeyer, then public relations officer of Hagenbeck), on plans for new bear grottos in Copenhagen Zoo, on an exhibition of poultry breeds in Buffalo Zoo, and on a proposal for a Baltic Sea Aquarium in Rønne.

I wrote – and read – this private magazine twice a month for 12 months. Then girls and cars and a lot of other things began to interest me, and I could not find time for the magazine. But I continued to keep in touch with zoos, and early in 1951 I got the inspiration to publish a real magazine in English. So International Zoo News was born. That part of the story I told in I.Z.N. 25 years ago, and there is no reason to repeat it here.

International Zoo News in 1951 was not a magazine, but a primitive newsletter, and it is too much to say that it was written in English. (When, in 1979, I became director of Copenhagen Zoo, I found a complete set of the early International Zoo News in the library. Axel Reventlow, then director of the zoo, had made a number of language corrections with a red pencil in some of the issues!) However, International Zoo News was taken seriously by many zoo directors, and there surely was a need for such a publication. The proof is that you today are reading the 50th anniversary issue of International Zoo News.

Although I was father of the child 50 years ago, it is of course through no merit of mine that it has come so far. As I wrote in my 25th anniversary article in 1976, the honour goes to G. Th. van Dam of Holland, who took it over in 1954 and changed the primitive newsletter into a real magazine. And not least to Nicholas Gould, who has been so professional in his work to bring the magazine to its present high level.

Now, as a retired zoo director, I have returned to the island of Bornholm. When I am in a nostalgic mood, it happens that I take another look at the Copenhagen Zoo Guide from 1946 and at the Official Guide to the New Belle Vue (Manchester), the map of Artis (Amsterdam), and the Dublin Zoo Souvenir Guide from the same year. And sometimes, when I walk in the streets of Rønne, where I for the first time heard of zoological gardens, I think of the many dreams I had in those early years of my life. I am happy to say that I am one of those who has had the great luck to see most of them come true.

Bent Jørgensen (Editor, 1951–1952), Gudhjem, Bornholm, Denmark

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In 1954 my friend Bent Jørgensen was forced to stop publishing his magazine for zoos, due to financial problems. Supported by a couple of zoos I started publishing International Zoo News. I had already collected photos, postcards, guides and flyers over the years. So for me International Zoo News was mostly a hobby.

The magazine received many positive and nice reactions from all over the world. The most spectacular reaction was probably the gift I received from an English zoo. Out of appreciation and gratitude for a successful animal trading deal they offered me Charlie. Charlie was a rather troublesome elephant, who would only listen to his own attendant. They were therefore kind enough to send his attendant with Charlie. I accepted, but because it’s rather difficult to keep an elephant in the attic, I donated Charlie and his attendant to a zoo in Rio de Janeiro.

I always look back with much pleasure on publishing International Zoo News. Although it cost a lot of time, I always had a great deal of fun, and I still enjoy reading it.

G. Th. van Dam (Editor, 1954–1973), Veeningen, The Netherlands

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Sincerest congratulations to International Zoo News in celebration of its 50th anniversary of publication. As a long-term (40+ years) member of the zoo/aquarium profession, I can truthfully say that this magazine is an old friend.

I.Z.N. fills a unique niche in our profession world-wide, inasmuch as it is privately funded (thanks to the late John Aspinall) and bears no allegiance to a regional zoo association. As such, it can take an independent editorial stance that should be welcomed. Refreshingly, I.Z.N. also continues to contain interesting news from a variety of collections, as well as useful reports on the emerging science of zoo biology. Zoological topics should be I.Z.N.'s continued emphasis, as these have now been de-emphasized in some zoo association publications. I always look forward to I.Z.N.'s appearance on my desk and eagerly devour its contents before passing it on to our other staff.

Keep well, old friend, and remain healthy. I hope you can continue fulfilling your communication and information mission in the zoo/aquarium industry for at least another half century.

Clayton F. Freiheit, President/CEO, Denver Zoo, Colorado, U.S.A.

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I have found the typical I.Z.N. articles generally very interesting, accurate, current, and concise. In recent years, I have noticed an increase in articles on zoo education, an area of particular interest to me as a biology professor teaching human environmental biology and zoology. I have found it a valuable resource in university-level education.

One of the excellent papers was Stephen Woollard's `The development of zoo education' (I.Z.N. 45:7, 1998). He outlines the changes in focus as zoos evolved from menageries to zoological parks and on to conservation centers. Another of his papers (`Zoo education's higher purpose – education for sustainability', I.Z.N. 46:3, 1999), looks at the need to rethink consumerism and development for a sustainable future. There is a need to continue to stress the use of live animals in zoos, but also to take on the challenge of human–environment issues and adopt the ethos of Education for Sustainability – a wonderful synthesis of zoos and human environmental biology.

Sue Dale Tunnicliffe's article `Stages of a zoo visit', which appeared in I.Z.N. 46:6 (1999), is one of the more recent in a long list of papers. It is a revealing analysis of the stages involved in a successful zoo field trip. This was helpful to me, as I conduct numerous field trips to the Milwaukee Zoo.

On this 50th anniversary of the founding of I.Z.N., I want to encourage you to keep up the good work. As human population numbers continue to mount and biodiversity declines, we need publications such as this.

Thomas F. Grittinger, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin Sheboygan, U.S.A.

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In the early 1950s I was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, travelling about as passes or furloughs became available, and spending much of that time visiting zoos and aquariums. Fortunately, early on I had met the English-speaking Director of the Cologne Zoo, Dr Wilhelm Windecker, who allowed me to stay at his zoo dwelling and who introduced me to a great many directors of other European zoos. I soon heard of a young man in Denmark who was publishing a small journal called International Zoo News, and on one of my visits to that area of Europe paid a call on him. It was a nice friendly meeting, and in due course he turned over the new journal to a very eager young Dutch fellow named Gerard van Dam, with whom I also got in touch. In those days I was sending back to friends in America fairly detailed reports on the zoos that I visited, and I began to send these to Mr van Dam, who placed them in the revitalized I.Z.N. This I still do as time allows today. It has been my pleasure to have met most of the editors, Mr Gould last summer while in England. The two of us met at Howletts and both had the pleasure of lunch with the late John Aspinall, and later of riding about the park with him, so he could show us his new langurs, the gorilla troop and his African elephant family. It was a happy day, I think, for all three of us, one I shall always remember.

It is remarkable that I.Z.N. is still going strong, better than ever, and bringing the latest information on zoos to so many people worldwide. I am happy to have had a small part in helping over the years.

Marvin L Jones, San Diego, California, U.S.A.

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Memories fade with time, but I remember the excitement when I noticed the ring-tailed lemur on the front cover. That was my first encounter with International Zoo News, and it took place in Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. I was surprised that such a journal even existed in this world! Exactly when it was I am not sure; I began my zoo career in July of 1959 as a student intern at Ueno under the director Dr Tadamichi Koga, my mentor and hero. In July of the following year I went back to Ueno. It must have been around that time I saw my first copy of I.Z.N.

Over the years I.Z.N. has gone through ups and downs of life, just as a human would. I believe that G. Th. Van Dam should be credited for establishing the journal's first golden era. It then began a slow decline, and had hit the bottom when Nicholas Gould inherited the editorship. Many long-time readers would agree that within the past decade, Nick has not only built the second golden era, but is also responsible for elevating the quality of I.Z.N. to the highest point in its history.

In the past half a century I.Z.N. has carved a unique niche in the zoo field. It is a low-keyed publication with a modest circulation. Although it is a zoo journal it is neither Der Zoologische Garten, Zoo Biology nor Zoonooz. I.Z.N. offers an independent information and communication channel for zoo professionals and serious zoo fans. In that aspect, I.Z.N. has established an irreplaceable position in the zoo world. We are thankful for Bent Jørgensen, and the late John Aspinall, for being a parent and a supporter, respectively. We look forward to witnessing the growth and development of the world's zoos, and I.Z.N., in the next half-century.

Ken Kawata, Curator, Staten Island Zoo, New York, U.S.A.

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Tempus certainly fugit, as it seems only the other day that the late Geoffrey Schomberg informed me `There's an excellent new magazine out, packed with news of what's happening in zoological gardens, in fact its main purpose is to serve as a contact centre between their directors and staffs and, of course, for enthusiasts like me! Its editor is a Dutchman who works as the manager of a grocery shop, but he's a real enthusiast and does a darned good job.' This was my introduction, in the summer of 1955, to International Zoo News. When one seeks to unravel the insane rush which is today's mode of life, when the years, the decades, telescope into corridors of infinity and appear to defy one's efforts to analyse and appraise them, it's sobering to realise that I.Z.N. is half a century old – for, like most people, Geoffrey had been unaware of its existence during the first few introverted years of its infancy.

In a way I.Z.N. can be likened to a holly tree standing proud of a hedgerow bordering a field (hollies were never clipped or cut, as their presence was thought to prevent witches from running along the tops of the hedges!) and brooding on the changes around it – the rotation of the crops, or the meadow being allowed to lie fallow, the animal populations which come and go, increase or decrease, different methods brought about by changing outlooks – yet despite it all the tree remains constant, even improving in stature and productivity as the years foreshorten into long perspective.

It has certainly seen vast changes in the form and functions of zoological gardens which, during the editorship of G. Th. van Dam (whom I came to know fairly well), followed simple missions in life by showing people as wide a range of animal species as possible; in other words they broadened their horizons in return for a small sum of money. And contrary to popular belief, their collections were not necessarily of rarities, either, as the news items in the issues for those times – say until the late 1960s – clearly show. In my view such places functioned far more successfully than when seeking to be the conservation centres they in time became, whereas currently – again as I see it – zoological collections seem in danger of becoming less about animals per se than about abstruse concepts of them.

I find it interesting – perhaps significant – that these extremes of outlook have coincided with the periods in office of the two best editors I.Z.N. has had. Two very different people whose only common denominator was lack of a conventional zoological background, yet both pursued their daunting if rewarding tasks with enthusiasm and well-deserved success (as a bonus, it's been only under our present editor that I.Z.N. has appeared regularly and on time!). Much has changed in the publication's subject-matter over fifty years, but it has survived because it's been impartial, tactful in fact, and has gently swayed to and fro in the winds of time, rather than seeking to stand up to them and risk being snapped off.

I sincerely salute it and wish it well for an important and laudable future.

Clinton Keeling, Shalford, Surrey, U.K.

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In February 2001 it will be 50 years since Bent Jørgensen founded International Zoo News. This organ accompanied me through all of my professional life. Volume 1, Number 1, had just appeared when I was appointed Director of Zoo Osnabrück, and it kept me informed during the long years in Berlin Zoo until my retirement in 1991 and beyond. At the beginning of the 1950s we German colleagues were not able to travel very often and very far, and International Zoo News as a contact organ gave us the possibility of knowing what had happened in front of and behind the scenes of other zoological gardens around the world! It gave an account of our conferences, such as the 1953 one in Antwerp with participants who have long ago passed away. It showed us, for example, the newly-completed Bird Hall at Wassenaar (Louise-Hall) with its excellent bird collection. I remember the news of how, during excavations in Berlin Zoo, the skeleton of our gorilla Pongo was found. The animal had been killed by intruders in May 1945. So we learned about other collections and also reported what had happened in our own zoos. In short, I am thankful that there has been an organ like International Zoo News! I have got all the numbers from the very beginning up to the present in my library, and still study each new issue.

I wish International Zoo News many more years to come!

Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. Heinz-Georg Klös, Director Emeritus, Berlin Zoo

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Fifty Glorious Zoo Years

A half-century represents a great achievement for any institution or publication in our ever-changing and impermanent world. For a specialist publication with an inherently small circulation potential, the survival and quality of International Zoo News is nothing short of a triumph. This triumph would not have been possible without the foresight and generosity of the late John Aspinall, and the dedication of three distinguished editors.

The late Geoffrey Schomberg was the only editor I knew well, and I am sure that I reflect the view of many when I say how sad it was that his later years were spent largely in isolation from the zoo world which he so enjoyed and served so well. Geoffrey played a significant role in the birth of Marwell, when I was an `unknown quantity' in British zoo circles although quite well connected across the Atlantic. His evidence at the planning enquiry which determined whether or not there should be a Marwell was important both technically and in another crucial aspect concerning the opposition.

During the fifty years of I.Z.N. the worlds of zoos and conservation have changed as or more dramatically than any other field of human endeavour, or destruction. Lucky the person who possesses every copy of every volume, for therein would be found recorded all of those changes written in the notes of births and deaths, and the comings and goings of humans and animals. The changes that have taken place during that half-century of publication stretch from enclosure design through to the emerging sciences of reproduction which will help us in our fight to preserve many threatened life forms, for zoos are now very much in the vanguard of the fight for species survival.

I have only been actively involved in the world of zoos for just over three-fifths of the life of I.Z.N. (I wish I had got here sooner!), but the most striking change of all that have happened in that time is the level of cooperation that now exists amongst the serious zoos of the world, which embraces sharing of technical and commercial information in a way that formerly would have been unthinkable. The exchanges of animals for genetic purposes without bargaining for money or barter represent how far we have come.

In all of these changes I.Z.N. has played an important role both as a chronicler and as a stimulant. Long may it continue so to do!

J.M. Knowles, O.B.E., Honorary Director, Marwell Preservation Trust, U.K.

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When I first joined the staff of the newly established Jersey Zoological Park, in May 1959, I was advised that the best way to keep up-to-date about what was happening in the zoo world was to subscribe to the International Zoo News magazine. Having greatly benefited from reading I.Z.N. over a period of four decades, I have also felt it to be very much worthwhile to contribute articles whenever I considered the subject matter appropriate. Indeed, my first contributions about the `Lemur collection at Parc de Tsimbazaza, Madagascar' and a visit to the `Alipore Zoological Gardens, Calcutta' were published in 1971 (Vol. 18, No. 3) and 1972 (Vol. 19, No. 2) respectively.

I first met the founder of this unique publication, Bent Jørgensen, in the late 1970s when he visited Jersey to do a radio programme about the work of Gerald Durrell's zoo and the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (now the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust) for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. It was at that time that Bent told me how while still in his teens, and living on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, he had established this first-ever international zoo link-publication.

It was always a great professional experience to work with Bent, and having shared many most enjoyable times with him over a period of 14 years at World Zoo Organisation (IUDZG, now WAZA) annual conferences in countries as varied as Australia and Canada, Germany and South Africa, the U.S.A. and Denmark, his early retirement from his directorship of Copenhagen Zoo has left a void most difficult to fill. No doubt all of us who have had the benefit of meeting Bent will have been captivated by his considerable charisma, friendliness and great but subtle humour.

On a recent visit to Denmark I had the opportunity to speak to Bent in his island home of Bornholm and to hear that he is finding more time to both broadcast and write books than his busy role as a zoo director used to allow. I also learned that his charming wife, Maria, is continuing to paint and carrying on her work as a graphic artist.

During the last 50 years, there have been very few zoo directors who, through their personal enthusiasm for the work carried out by the global zoo community, and their belief in the importance of disseminating the knowledge gained by zoo staff at all levels, have left such an inspired legacy as Bent Jørgensen – in particular, in his having recognised at such an early age, in his formative years, the significant value of sharing experiences and information about the animal kingdom that has become, during the last half-century, so increasingly endangered.

Jeremy J.C. Mallinson, Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey

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Bent Jørgensen has influenced the development of the modern zoo in Europe to a large extent. I met him first in about 1981 at a meeting which he had organized in Copenhagen about breeding endangered species.

I also remember vividly a day when the EAZA Council met in Copenhagen and discussed minimum standards for zoos, which a decade later developed into the European Zoo Directive. When I came home from dinner at his house I switched on the TV and saw the fall of the Berlin Wall – it was the 9th of November 1989. Bent was one of the fathers of ECAZA, later EAZA, and he also facilitated cooperation at the worldwide level through his functions at the International Union of Directors of Zoological Gardens and Aquaria.

Bent Jørgensen not only founded International Zoo News, but also very much later became one of the leaders in the zoo world.

Dr Ulrich Schürer, Director, Wuppertal Zoo, Germany

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I am only a teenager in the zoo world and a sort of anomaly, since I am an American who learned zookeeping in India (never having visited a zoo till I came here to study yoga and Sanskrit), and still a volunteer, not a professional. Nonetheless I have had such a wonderful relationship and involvement with International Zoo News, perhaps more so as I was completely dependent on it and the International Zoo Yearbook in my first years of working in zoos.

I have always felt a sort of identification with I.Z.N., because its founder just up and started this zoo magazine without any reason to do so except that a need was there. He too wasn't a zoo professional or even associated with zoos; he was an anomaly just like me, yet this wonderful thing has continued.

I am so impressed with the growth and development of International Zoo News. When I first started reading it, there was not so much original material. In fact, the then editor would even reprint some of my newspaper articles about Indian zoos from the Times of India. I used to send lots of current news about India to I.Z.N. also. I used to encourage my Indian colleagues to publish in I.Z.N., and there have been many articles from India, I think. Now it is harder to get published, which is a good thing for I.Z.N. The editor has more than enough material, and the standard of contributions has gone up like anything.

Out in the `boonies', we sometimes don't have much connection with the international zoo community except printed material.

There is another use I have made of I.Z.N. which is very important. It was my only source for recent historical material on some of the zoos of the Asian region which I researched both for the book Zoo and Aquarium History and also for the upcoming Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos. Some of the articles about people's travels were all I needed to fill out a section or article.

People come to our office to refer to I.Z.N., Animal Keepers' Forum and other zoo magazines of the world. And now I.Z.N. is on the web.

Happy Birthday, I.Z.N. – I hope in another 50 years you are still growing and developing, advising zookeepers in space or on another planet!

Sally Walker, Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore, India

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`With this number the ``Zoo Centret'' introduces to some zool. gardens and zoo-interested people a quite new zoo periodical.' Thus Bent Jørgensen, a seventeen-year-old post-office clerk from Bornholm in Denmark, introduced the very first issue of International Zoo News in February 1951. Three roughly-typed, duplicated sheets of approximately A4-sized paper constituted this historic first issue, which led with the headline `Copenhagen Zoo Enhances the Admission Charge' (this, apparently, `came as a bomb-shell'). Around a dozen news stories were featured: these showed a heavy Danish bias, with a couple of reports from Regent's Park (`Sunbirds to London Zoo', `Chimp Cuts and Runs') and the diets of the carnivores at Buffalo Zoo (two pounds of meat a day for the coyotes) also provided for the readers. Moving away from zoos, those readers were also informed that a circus lion in Rome had escaped and been shot. Finally, in a column entitled `From the Editor's Writing Table', Bent Jørgensen sent out a call that would be repeated, in different ways and in different words, by I.Z.N. editors time and time again over the next fifty years: `We hope that you will show co-operation and now and then send us a letter with news from your zoo. . . I will think that you now and then should be able to get ten minutes for a letter to us.'

The original intention was for I.Z.N. to be a monthly publication, and for the first year or so of its existence Mr Jørgensen was able to keep to this demanding schedule. By the time issue number two appeared in March 1951 the call for news had been heeded. The birth of a Speke's sitatunga at Manchester's Belle Vue Zoo was the lead item, with other news stories coming in from San Diego, Dublin, Colombo, Chicago and the Danish zoos closest to I.Z.N.'s editorial birthplace. The issue even saw what would be the first of many visitors' zoo reviews: `My Visit to the Copenhagen Zoo by Birgit a 9 Years Old Danish Girl.'

Issue Three of I.Z.N. featured the magazine's first picture (Copenhagen Zoo's new polar bear grotto) and a wider selection of zoo news (`Ghastly Suicide in Australian Zoo' rubbing shoulders with `The Number of Wisents is Increasing'), but it was with May's Issue Four that the magazine really came of age. A rather stylish new logo, featuring the magazine's name in a beautiful font and a drawing of an ibis, sat atop page one. Six pages of news, and one of photographs, followed, with Rotterdam, Frankfurt, New York and Philadelphia joining the regularly featured zoos of London, San Diego, Dublin and Copenhagen. `Dr B. Grzimek . . . visited Senegal, Sudan, French Guinea and Ivory Coast,' readers were informed, while Peter Scott had rather less ambitiously gone to Dublin where he `greatly admired' the zoo's stock of geese. And alongside the news and the photos was what could possibly be called I.Z.N.'s first `feature article' – a discussion by the editor on the subject of `April Fooling Per Telephone'. In his editorial Bent Jørgensen felt able to comment that his magazine `seems to be a success'.

The content and quality of I.Z.N. continued to expand through the rest of 1951. Successive issues brought news from Rio de Janeiro (`Four Maned Wolf Babies'), Amsterdam (`Hyenas Born') and Burma (`Rangoon Zoo Re-built'). Details were given of a new carnivore house in Philadelphia and an aquarium in Duisburg. In September came the first real visitor's report on a zoo: F. Sørensen was inspired by the Nykoebing Falster Zoo in Denmark to comment that `I really think the animals feel happy.' He concluded that much `can be worked up by means of hard work and efforts' – a sentiment which would be echoed in many similar articles over the following half-century.

In November a one-sheet supplement titled `Dealing With Animals' appeared for the first time. Zoos were encouraged to advertise their surplus and wanted lists here: Skansen Zoo in Sweden were asking `500 Sw. Cr.' for a grey seal, Perth Zoo were after polar bears and Belfast wanted rid of three hyenas – two spotted, one brown. The following month's I.Z.N. reported that two spotted hyenas had arrived at Chessington from Belfast, so perhaps `Dealing With Animals' did have its supporters, but it was a not a long-lived part of the magazine.

But if, as 1951 drew to a close, all at I.Z.N. looked to be developing smoothly, Bent Jørgensen's notes `From the Editor's Writing Table' told a different story. The finances of producing the magazine were clearly proving to be problematic, and frequent requests for help were answered by, among others, the zoos of Rotterdam, Odense, Colombo and Copenhagen. `We are grateful for that,' wrote Jørgensen, `but unfortunately we need more money to make both ends meet.' Money wasn't the only worry, though. The reluctance of zoos to provide information about their work was proving to be as vexing to Jørgensen as it would be to his successors down the years. `It is so very hard to worm news out of the readers. I am not an expert. I never worked in a zoo, but you, Mr Zoo Manager, do. Why not let your colleagues in other parts of the world share your observations?' Despite these pleas, I.Z.N.'s teenaged editor entered 1952 with over 120 zoos among his subscribers and a magazine which was clearly starting to become very much a part of the zoological garden `establishment'.

I.Z.N. started as a monthly, but in 1952 Bent Jørgensen was limited to just six issues as financial worries emerged. It may have been less frequently published, but I.Z.N. was improving all the time. The final edition of 1952 had ten pages, koalas on the cover, and a selection of photographs within. Amongst the articles that readers had been offered during the year were a celebration of Ueno Zoo's 70th anniversary and a look at the illness suffered by Pao Pei, a giant panda at St Louis Zoo, written by William Conway. For most of the year Bent Jørgensen elected to fill the magazine with zoo news and articles rather than his own musings `From The Editor's Writing Table' which had been so much a feature of the magazine in its first year. But by November he was back again, explaining that the magazine had been `suspended' for four months `owing to financial difficulties'. In the meantime the young editor had ceased working as a post-office clerk and had moved from the provincial town of Rønne to Copenhagen. Perhaps it was the move as much as the financial realities, but Jørgensen had had a rethink about his ambitions for the magazine: `Now I.Z.N. will only be issued every quarter and the next edition will thus be issued in January,' he wrote. In fact, these would prove to be his last notes `From the Editor's Writing Table'.

As he would later recount, `the task [of producing I.Z.N.] had grown bigger than an 18 year old could manage – at an age when friendships, education and many other things take up his time.' Fortunately there was a new editor waiting to take over. Gerard van Dam, a Dutchman, had already begun contributing to I.Z.N., and now agreed to take on the whole operation. He would go on to edit the magazine with distinction until the early 1970s. But it was a teenage post-office clerk who had established the magazine in the first place, nurturing it through its first two years of life. At the start of those two years I.Z.N. held an innocent promise; by the time the final Danish edition was produced – the seventeenth in all – in November 1952, there was news from around thirty zoos, lengthier reports from Hamburg and Antwerp, and a discussion entitled `Will The Berlin Zoo Regain Its Pre-War Position?' (`yes' was the answer provided by I.Z.N.'s German correspondent, Sigrid Hettwich). International Zoo News was well on the way to becoming the sort of magazine which, fifty years on, subscribers across the world know and appreciate. Mr Jørgensen, who, as many readers will know, would later go on to run the Copenhagen Zoo, had founded a magazine which would continue to thrive and prosper for many years to come.

John Tuson, The Mill House, Yapton Road, Barnham, West Sussex PO22 0BD, U.K. (

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Addendum – Philippine eagle historical list (I.Z.N. 47:8, pp. 496–506)

A Pithecophaga jefferyi skin (#BPBM 184287) at the State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, is that of the bird (No. 23 in the list) which died at Honolulu Zoo in March 1960.

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`Beijing has the best of everything in China bar the weather: the best food, the best hotels, the best transport, the best temples.' The authors of the Lonely Planet guide to China, the backpackers' bible, could easily have added: the best wild-animal attractions. Few of the city's estimated two million overseas visitors a year come for Beijing's zoo, safari park, game farms, bird markets or aquaria. Yet, since inauguration of its new aquarium in March, 1999, Beijing Zoo, with some 15,000 animals representing 1,600 species and subspecies, boasts what is probably the greatest variety of any zoo in the world. Those that do visit the zoo usually only pop into the giant panda house just beyond the main gate, leaving the premises as soon as they've purchased their panda souvenir. Greatest variety does not necessarily spell best zoo, of course, but a recent visit accompanying two German zoo directors demonstrated well that one can happily spend a week in China's capital looking only (or at least mostly) at animals. And as the culinary preferences of the North Chinese more closely resemble what Europeans like to eat than those of the South Chinese, even those who can get quite sentimental about animals should be able to enjoy Beijing without suffering sleepless nights.

Beijing Zoo, the nation's oldest and largest, is not without its Western detractors. A `Report on Chinese Zoos' by a campaigns officer of Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), there in the spring of 1999, noted `wretched' conditions for the bears, even `greater horrors' in the elephant house, a `thoroughly depressing reptile house' and `aviaries in very sad shape'. Recently published `Zoo Pages' of the Asian Animal Protection Network give Beijing Zoo credit for being `a beautiful park full of mature trees and miserable animals. Every cage is a small concrete box,' the author continues, noting `people shouting at and poking the animals to get reactions and laughing at zoochotic behaviour.' The Lonely Planet guide uses stronger language yet: `the pandas would be better off dead. After you've been there you'll probably look as distressed as the animals.' I beg to differ. Yes, environmental enrichment may still be Greek to the Chinese, but I've seen worse zoos even in Germany and England. For anyone interested in China's fascinating fauna, there's no better alternative than to go to the zoological gardens north-west of central Beijing, just beyond the first ring road. It's really not that bad a zoo.

Since the publication of the RSPCA report in 1999, the Beijing Zoo has moved its elephants (and, incidentally, rhinos and hippos) into new quarters double the size of the old houses. A new complex for tropical birds and songbirds, although certainly not state-of-the-art, offers clean and roomy accommodation in two houses, and a large free-flight aviary with an admittedly uninspired mix of commonplace birds. The reptile house has the largest terrarium by far, two stories high, for pythons (P. reticulatus) that I can recall having ever seen in a zoo, spacious vivaria for Chinese alligators and better-than-average for Siamese and salt-water crocodiles, and of course Chinese giant salamanders and other endemic species rarely if ever seen outside China. But it is true that the maintenance of the 20-year-old building gives a better impression when looking at it from afar than from the perspective of the reptiles and amphibians that actually have to populate the terraria. It becomes particularly obvious in the reptile house that Beijing Zoo, like cultural and scientific institutions everywhere now in a China that is socialist only in name, is having problems making ends meet: saving energy, light bulbs are weak, and one could easily get the impression that one has stumbled into the nocturnal house.

As for the giant pandas, one Lele gave birth to twins on 3 August 2000, bringing the zoo's total to 18 at the time of writing. Those that we saw looked as lively as pandas can. They are distributed between the new and the old panda house, with five decently planted and reasonably large outdoor enclosures, three glass-fronted dens encompassing some 500 square metres each inside the new panda house, and off-exhibit cages in both. The old panda house is also home to Chinese red pandas (Ailurus fulgens styani). Taking to heart the business axiom of enticing visitors to spend as much money as they can part with, the new giant panda complex alone has three souvenir kiosks, and indeed the whole zoo is chock-full of opportunities to lighten one's purse. Discovering the value of capitalist sponsorship, the zoo coaxed Volkswagen to finance a new, £240,000 (US$390,000) giant panda research centre in the grounds of the zoo, completed last year and the work-place of 20 zoologists and veterinarians. The year before, Beijing Zoo also introduced its adopt-an-animal programme. The first panda to go was four-month-old Yuanyuan, adopted by the real-estate developer Beijing North Star Company for 66,000 yuan (c. £5,000 or US$8,000 at the exchange rate then). If Lele's twins survive, they will bring the zoo's total to 38 giant pandas successfully nurtured since the birth of Mingming in 1963. Today Beijing has only one giant panda, Yongyong, taken from the wild.

Beijing Zoo claimed some ten million visitors last year, and judging by the crowds during the week we were there, that does not appear to be an exaggeration. Certainly we saw the occasional animal being teased, but considering the size of the crowds and the fact that no one of authority ever appeared to be anywhere in sight to stop unruly behaviour, we at least saw very little of it – no more, really, than in many European and American zoos. Visitors are quite keen to feed the animals, however, including giraffes and other cute creatures with rather sensitive stomachs, but our hosts reported no nasty consequences because of those habits. The current director, Zong Ying, has been at the zoo since 1996; before that, we were told, he was head of the New Summer Palace, one of the major cultural and tourist attractions in China's capital. The head of science and the animal collection is Deputy Director and Chief Veterinarian Wang Baoqiang. I've given up trying to judge Chinese people's ages, although Dr Wang is certainly younger than Mr Zong, but both seem to be in their productive years, well motivated, and the developments of the last couple of years alone, despite obvious financial constraints, bode well for the zoo's future.

In the late 80s, Beijing Zoo was struggling just to feed its animals, a victim of Deng Xiaoping's new economic policy of weaning institutions from government largesse – specifically the end of food-price subsidies. Between 1984 and 1988, the price of animal feed alone doubled. Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution of the mid-60s through mid-70s did the zoo no good: the scientific and veterinary staff spent most of that time in exile out in the paddy-fields, whilst the keepers and sweepers did their best to keep the zoo going. Beijing Zoo has had as bumpy a ride through the 20th century as the city and nation it serves.

Founded in 1906 as the Wansheng Yuan, the `Garden of Countless Domestic Animals', Beijing Zoo was originally the 3.5-hectare (9-acre) zoological section of a newly-established, 70-hectare (175-acre) Central Agricultural Experimental Research Farm. The establishment of the research farm was one of the last efforts of the rapidly deteriorating Qing dynasty to modernize its scientific and technological institutions before its final collapse in 1911. A Commission to Study Foreign Governmental Institutions visited Europe and the United States in 1905 and 1906, and came back with the recommendation to make what was originally intended to be an acclimatization garden a full-fledged, albeit small, zoo. The Empress Dowager Cixi, for all practical purposes China's ruler, was enthusiastic about the idea, and donated the land, an imperial park originally established in the 17th century, for the research farm and its zoo. An initial stock of 134 animals representing 58 species was ordered from the Hamburg animal dealer Carl Hagenbeck. The shipment included animals native to China, apparently ordered in Germany out of convenience, but the collection was augmented by other Chinese animals acquired locally. The Wansheng Yuan was inaugurated on 18 June 1908, and proved to be immediately popular in a society where the institution of a zoological garden was foreign.

With the proclamation of a Chinese Republic in January 1912, hard times fell on the zoo as they did on the nation as a whole. Warlords dominated the various regions of China, and the central authority hardly extended beyond Beijing's suburbs – if that. When things settled down in the late 1920s with the establishment of the Guomindang regime under Chiang Kai-shek, the capital was removed to Nanjing. Occupied by Japanese troops from 1937 until 1945, and suffering under the subsequent civil war between the Guomindang and the Communists under Mao Zedong, by the time Beijing regained its status as capital of the People's Republic of China, proclaimed in 1949, all that were left in the zoo were a blind emu, three parrots and a dozen monkeys. Determined to make the zoo a national institution, albeit one run by the municipal parks and forests department, the whole of the old research farm was gradually transformed into a vastly enlarged zoo, renamed Beijing Dongwuyuan (literally, Beijing Animal Garden) in 1955. By 1958 the zoo had grown to 35 hectares (88 acres). With the inauguration of the new aquarium and the pachyderm houses in 1999 on new land north of an ancient canal that was once the northern boundary of the old research farm and later the gardens, the zoo now covers almost 90 hectares (220 acres).

Unlike most national or other major zoos largely devoted to exotic animals, the regional fauna takes pride of place in Beijing Zoo, although animals from abroad are also well represented in a collection of over 600 species of mammals, birds and herps. As the zoo of China's capital it is the usual recipient of foreign gifts when they come in the form of animals. Great Indian rhinoceroses from India, musk oxen from the United States and West Indian manatees from Mexico were among the more prominent donations from abroad during the last couple of decades. It is one of only two zoos in Asia, as far as I know at least, that exhibits the Central American tapir (T. bairdi), now housed along with Malayan and Brazilian tapirs in the old rhinoceros house. But for Western visitors and perhaps for most Chinese as well, it's China's extraordinary wildlife that brings the millions each year to Beijing Zoo.

Considering the enormous popularity of the giant panda in China, it seems odd that until 1955 no specimen was ever kept in a Chinese menagerie. That's almost 20 years after the first giant panda was acquired by Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. For Beijing's first panda house, three females were captured within a month near Baoxing, Sichuan province, the site of Armand David's `discovery' of the species in 1869. Two more including a male, were secured in the same area in 1956. In 1990, a second giant panda house was completed adjacent to the old one. Whereas most of the older structures in the zoo are serviceable but architecturally unremarkable, not even particularly `Chinese' in style, the new panda house, like other recent construction, sets its mark: large arches above the roof remind one (or are supposed to remind one) of a bamboo grove. As with the reptile house and the new aquarium, an extra fee has to be paid to enter the building and see the outdoor enclosures from up close, unless one purchases a combination ticket. At the time of our visit, admission, even including the panda and reptile houses but excluding the aquarium, cost only seven yuan, the equivalent of about 50 pence or 85 US cents.

At about the same time that Beijing Zoo first acquired giant pandas, a pair of another endemic, attractive animal native to Sichuan was also secured: the golden snub-nosed langur (Rhinopithecus roxellana). Kept only once before in a zoo, in London for a short time in 1939, the Beijing gardens established breeding groups of this species and the closely related black snub-nosed langur (R. bieti) that have produced to date over two dozen young. The animals have been housed since 1988 in a large – if now in parts a bit rusty – caged dome with observation platforms that are currently, perhaps because of their dilapidated state, off-limits to visitors. (One of the major drawbacks of China's decade-long construction boom is the quick-profit, forget-quality attitude of the industry. We saw housing which we guessed to be 30 or 40 years old; in reality the blocks of flats had been thrown up only two years ago!) The third species of the Chinese tribe of odd-nosed monkeys, the grey or white-caped snub-nosed langur (R. brelichi) from Guizhou province, south-central China, has been kept in the Beijing gardens only once, in the late 1960s. Highlights of an older langur house were a breeding group of François's brow-ridged langur (Trachypithecus francoisi) from Guizhou and, especially remarkable, a single white-headed langur (T. leucocephalus), `discovered' only in 1953. The new great ape house, completed in 1998, offers three species moated, well-landscaped if not particularly large outdoor enclosures and rather dark, glass-fronted indoor cages. The old house for anthropoid apes, built in the late 70s, has had its originally moated outdoor areas fenced in; it's now home to gibbons, including the rare white-browed gibbon (Hylobates hoolock), and baboons. The oldest animal structure in the zoo is also devoted to a Chinese primate – rhesus macaques inhabit the barless monkey `hill' built 90 years ago. (This species, interestingly perhaps, was among the Chinese animals that Beijing Zoo originally ordered from Hagenbeck back in 1907, rather than go out to the Eastern Tombs near the capital where the monkeys roamed free at the time.)

In the same, the oldest, corner of the zoo is the pheasantry, a well-stocked building in almost every Chinese menagerie. Most if not all white eared pheasants (C. crossoptilon) in zoos today stem from a clutch originally raised in the Beijing gardens. Perhaps the most attractive inhabitant of the pheasantry is the Chinese blue monal (Lophophorus lhuysii). Cranes too are popular birds in China, and man-made islets in man-made lakes are home to at least seven species. Beijing Zoo claims to harbour the largest breeding colony of black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) in captivity, having raised to date almost a hundred birds starting with three pairs in 1986. Rare in zoos if not in the wild is the great black-headed gull (Larus ichthyaetus), of which we saw one specimen, obviously pinioned, swimming on a lake. Crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) were not on view, but Beijing Zoo has bred at least eight of this extremely endangered species during the last decade.

The `Lion and Tiger Hill' was constructed in the mid-50s with assistance from East German zoo architects during a time when the relations between Communist China and Soviet-dominated East-central Europe were still good. A gunite `hill' houses in its core a large if sterile big-cat house surrounded by naturally planted, moated enclosures, including the only barless pen I've ever seen for leopards. In recent years the leopard enclosure has been populated by black jaguars raised at Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, but the moat is still very wide indeed. Take binoculars. The endemic South China tiger (P. t. amoyensis) is no longer represented in Beijing; I later saw specimens in Shanghai, which by Chinese definition is a southern (south of the Qin Ling mountain range) city. It's not unusual for Chinese authorities to concentrate breeding groups of rare animals at zoos in or near the region to which they are endemic.

Aside from giant pandas, we saw only three species of ursid: polar, brown and Tibetan black bears. Their enclosures, near the Lion and Tiger Hill, are larger than in most zoos, but a good example to prove that size and a moat alone do not make for a good habitat. `Wretched', frankly, is a fair description of the stale concrete pits built in 1956, each offering their inhabitants little more than a pond and half a dead tree. The nearby leopard house exhibits snow leopards from Qinghai province and spotted leopards (P. p. orientalis) from Manchuria, again in enclosures that should, let's say, be at the top of the priority list for replacement. The small-mammal and nocturnal house is the place to see such rare animals as the giant rufous flying squirrel (P. petaurista), Hainan crested porcupine (Hystrix brachyura hodgsoni), hog badger (Arctonyx collaris) and Chinese desert or mountain cat (Felis bieti).

Passing the hoofed-stock area one comes across a paddock labelled in Chinese and English as `wild yak'. I recall seeing years ago in the same yard what seemed to my admittedly untrained eye to be genuinely wild yaks (Bos mutus), but during our recent visit the yaks were, despite the sign, quite obviously domestic – the hornless variety, at that. What really is worth a visit – some might say, the flight – is the sole specimen of a genuinely wild (not just feral) Bactrian camel in any zoo in the world, a male in Beijing said to be 25 years old. He's apparently so valuable that he's kept away from the visitors' path, usually only visible when standing on a hillock in his paddock behind the Tibetan wild asses (Equus hemionus kiang). So as not to be completely alone, he shares his enclosure with a female domestic Bactrian camel – enabling one really to appreciate the difference between the wild and domestic forms. Other highlights of the ungulate collection include North China and West China takins (Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi and B. taxicolor tibetana), gorals from central and south-western China (Naemorhedus caudatus and N. baileyi), goa or Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata) and Mongolian or Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii). In addition to Tibetan wild ass, the zoo also has, we heard, South Mongolian wild ass (E. h. luteus), but we saw none. A large corner of the ungulate area was off-limits during our visit, but our hosts were not too chatty, unfortunately, about what the problem was.

A particular surprise was to find Mongolian gazelle on the menu of the zoo's main restaurant, the Bin Feng Tang, which goes back to the late Qing dynasty. Also on the bill of fare was what according to my Chinese dictionary is sea otter (though the description given fitted coypu better than otter), shredded snake meat and camel curry. The other dishes one could find, although obviously prepared differently, in any good European – well, let's say French – restaurant. Chinese fast-food stalls are distributed around the gardens. Fortunately, there are no McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken, which appear to be ubiquitous elsewhere in Beijing, even at such a venerable site as the formerly imperial Beihai park.

One of the oldest buildings in the gardens, recently demolished, was the goldfish house, which virtually every Chinese zoo otherwise boasts of. The sea lion pond, too, is empty, as is the aquarium built in the late 70s, the birthplace of six manatees. Beijing Zoo wants no competition to the new Beijing Aquarium, the £60m (US$95m) landmark on the zoo's northern annexe adjacent to the elephant house. Built in the form of what the architects consider a nautilus, it covers at 3.5 hectares (9 acres) exactly the same area as the whole zoo when it first opened to the public in 1908. At least the seventh public aquarium now thirsting for visitors in Beijing alone, but by far the largest, it is strictly speaking not an integral part of the zoo, although it stands on the zoo's grounds and the gardens are well represented on the aquarium's board. It is a joint venture of the zoo, the Beijing International Trust and Investment Company (BITIC) and Hong Kong's Pexlanda International, the principal financier. The original estimates for building the aquarium were only half the final bill. The entrance fee is accordingly high, astronomically so by Chinese standards. One can only enter the aquarium through the zoo, at least that was the case during our visit, but the price of a combination ticket jumps from seven to 100 yuan. That's the equivalent of about £8.60 or US$12 – or a week's wages for an unskilled worker. Yet the Beijing Aquarium attracted one and a half million visitors during its first year of operation, through March, 2000 – impressive considering the price but insufficient to cover costs and recover the investment at that rate. Eight million annually was what the investors had hoped for. Operated by a group called Beijing Landa Aquarium Company (BLACO), the institution is to revert to zoo management in 30 years. After ten years, Beijing Zoo will begin to share profits – if ever there are any.

When we were in Beijing the admission fee was actually only 80 yuan. The price had been reduced because the performing bottle-nosed dolphins, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and Californian and South American sea lions had been on strike since 29 February. Actually, their owners and trainers were. In a joint venture within the joint venture, JVC, a marine-mammal consultancy based in Lompoc, California, found itself in a contract dispute with BLACO, which was trying to kick the Americans training and caring for the marine mammals out of China while keeping the animals, withholding payments to JVC specified in a US$11m (£6.8m) contract. JVC is owned and run by former staff members of Marineland of the Pacific, the oceanarium near Los Angeles that was bought up by Sea World a few years ago in order to close it down. Western companies in dispute with Chinese partners usually try to avoid law courts in China, and fortunately for JVC the firm found allies in the zoo management and in the local Beijing press. Under pressure from falling attendance as well as from board members representing BITIC and the zoo, the Hong Kong investors largely behind the dispute backed down and agreed to a settlement in June. JVC resumed the marine mammal shows on May Day after an interim agreement in late April. In the succeeding nine days, some 200,000 visitors flocked into the aquarium. As part of the agreement, however, the six false killer whales and six South American sea lions are off to a new home in the Philippines; the aquarium will purchase the eight dolphins and two Californian sea lions. Whether the shows will remain as attractive to visitors once the `exotics' are gone, remains to be seen. BLACO is to take over management of the marine mammal operations from JVC in August 2001.

This episode with JVC was not the only learning experience that the aquarium had to pay for. Even before it first opened its doors, the losses of fish were 300%, we were told. Even now one misses species for which labels are there. When asked how many fish and marine invertebrates the aquarium has, the standard answer seems to be 50,000 animals and 1,300 species, but the real figure is probably anyone's guess. A conservative estimate is 10,000 aquatic animals and 1,000 species. But whatever the exact numbers may be, it's a very impressive aquarium. Divided into thematic areas, visitors first enter what's called in English the Rain Forest Adventure: large, open tanks with largely South-east Asian and South American freshwater fish, but also some species from the Yangtze Kiang and other Chinese rivers, including Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis). The plants, unfortunately, are mostly `Made in China' plastic. The Tidal Encounter is the place to touch and manhandle sea-stars and fish. In the voluminous Shark Aquarium we counted seven species of shark and two of rays. Wonders of the Coral Reef include tanks devoted to specific regions (South China Sea, Indonesia, Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef and others) as well as to systematic groups – not necessarily coral-reef fish. The Fish Roundabout is one really big tank with probably a couple of thousand tropical marine fish as well as green turtles (Chelonia mydas), through which a moving stairway in a glass tunnel takes one from the first back to the ground floor.

The graphics and labelling, as in Beijing Zoo in general, are more informative than in most European zoos and aquaria, although for the most part in Chinese only. Other than the names given the thematic areas, species names and the way to the WC are pretty much the only signs in English (but then that's a greater courtesy than European and American zoos and aquaria are willing to offer their Chinese visitors). The aquarium too has fast-food snack bars and a small restaurant, but unlike public aquaria I've visited in Taiwan, the food is not brought in from the tanks one has just passed by. (It's not as fresh, either, of course.) Needless to say, a big gift shop awaits the departing visitor.

Fifteen yuan – about £1.30 or US$1.80 – will get one into China's largest and oldest natural history museum. The institution and its building on the main axis leading south out of central Beijing were only established in the 1950s. All earlier natural history museums in China (there weren't many) were closed down by the Communists shortly after `Liberation', for whatever reasons. The Beijing Natural History Museum is a convenient half-hour's walk from the city's biggest bird market, closer yet to the Altar of Heaven, one of the top tourist attractions, and well worth a stop. Don't expect anything of the taxidermy – it's actually quite awful – but the museum does give one a good, quick introduction to China's wildlife, vegetation and dinosaurs. More to the point, it has a nice, small aquarium spread over 650 square metres (770 square yards) in the cellar. Recently modernized, it consists of several dozen individual tanks, none particularly large, but with some interesting inhabitants not seen everywhere. Highlights include Manchurian sturgeon (Acipenser schrenki), Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) and the bony-tongues Scleropages formosus and Osteoglossum bicirrhosum. The aquarium follows a practice that was once quite common in Chinese menageries, although no longer adhered to at Beijing Zoo: recycling dead animals. Of course, a natural history museum is the natural recipient for interesting animals that have died in a zoo, but traditionally in China the carcasses never left the premises. I recall visiting Luoyang Zoo in Henan province 15 years ago, and being amazed to see in the outdoors giant panda enclosure a glass case with the stuffed body of the mate of the zoo's widowed panda set up inside. The museum's aquarium has several cases of taxidermically prepared fish scattered between the tanks that never made it upstairs to the ichthyology gallery. The largest specimen is of a Kaluga sturgeon (Huso dauricus). (At the time of our visit, Beijing Zoo's new education centre was still under construction, but I understand that it will include a zoological museum.)

Chinese traditionally are lovers of birds, not just on the plate but as pets as well. The largest of Beijing's many bird markets was removed only last year from its old site near the zoo to a new one on the southern edge of central Beijing along a stretch of the old city moat. Less than a mile (one and a half kilometres) long and perhaps a quarter-mile deep, it is a warren of stalls selling a huge variety of songbirds, including an amazing number imported from South-east Asia. Needless to say, we were all well disciplined and didn't even dream of taking anything back home with us, but those who know their birds will find a visit an interesting digression. A large sign in the centre of the market admonishes customers to respect conservation laws, and as the posting is in Chinese only, for once one sees propaganda that's not just trying to give foreign tourists a good impression.

The Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association collaborates with the Beijing Centre for Breeding Endangered Animals, an institution that concentrates, as its name implies, on breeding rare animals for Chinese zoos. Like Beijing Zoo under the authority of the parks and forestry administration, it's about one and a half hours' drive south of central Beijing, yet just within the city limits. (At this point I should point out, perhaps, that Beijing is more than a city, it's also a province, although not called that. The municipality Beijing Shi, literally `City of Beijing', covers 16,800 square kilometres or 6,490 square miles – that's considerably larger than Northern Ireland or Connecticut. The four central-city wards within the first ring road that comprise Old Peking, and three surrounding boroughs, make up the urban core, with a population of seven million; the rest is mostly country-side.)

The breeding centre covers 17 hectares (42 acres) in Daxing county on the site of a former women's prison, hence the secure walls. It was once adjacent to a safari park, and when that went bankrupt the centre took over its ostriches, emus and Manchurian sikas (Cervus nippon hortulorum). As director Wang Xuejun disclosed to us, his centre is itself near bankruptcy, a victim of overstaffing and underfunding. It once made money raising rhesus macaques and chimpanzees for medical research institutes, but the market broke down after primates could no longer be exported to the United States. The centre is open to the public and admission costs only 20 yuan (c. £1.70 or US$2.40), but from central Beijing it can conveniently be reached only by taxi – if the driver ever finds his or her way. (Mr Wang kindly picked us up himself at our hotel and took us out.)

The centre attracts only about 1,000 paying visitors a year, Mr Wang told us, but another 10,000 pupils and students do visit the compound as well. There's no restaurant or gift shop, but well laid-out paths and informative signs (if one can read Chinese). The highlight unquestionably was a pair of crestless monals (Lophophorus sclateri) and their adult clutch, the only specimens in captivity, we were assured, and certainly the first instance of captive breeding of this rare pheasant. The centre has bred 23 golden snub-nosed langurs, of which 15 have survived, but most are male. Presumably it could make a fortune selling them abroad, but as long as the Chinese government can make a yet bigger fortune just loaning selected animals out to well-financed zoos, the centre will never get the permits to export specimens. Other animals that breed regularly at the centre include black-necked and Manchurian cranes, wild ass and bharal (Pseudois nayaur). The centre also provides a refuge for a blind snow leopard confiscated from an American tourist who had bought her as a cub in Lhasa and then tried to smuggle her out through Beijing airport. (How he got her through Lhasa airport, Mr Wang couldn't tell us.)

About half-way back to central Beijing, but still within Daxing county, one can visit, as we did, the Nanhaizi Milu Park. The institution is all that's left of the legendary game farm established early in the 15th century, where Armand David `discovered' the deer named after him in 1865. Nanhaizi (`South Lake') once covered 40 square kilometres (15 square miles), but it disappeared with the Qing dynasty, and all remnants of it, including the original stock of game, have since vanished without a trace. A military airbase established in the 1950s still occupies a large part of the former park. In 1985, an area of 68 hectares (168 acres) near the centre of what had been the game farm was carved out of waste ground for the new milu park.

As is well known, all Père David's deer living today are descendants of captive specimens brought to Europe in the late 19th century. The last native specimen in China, as far as we know, died towards the end of, or shortly after, the First World War in Beijing Zoo – records of the exact date of the animal's death (and indeed, where it came from) have ostensibly been lost. The species, known in Chinese as milu or sibuxiang, returned to the country where once it was endemic in 1956, when four specimens raised at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park were presented to Beijing Zoo by the Zoological Society of London. Since then, the deer have become well represented in Chinese zoos. Efforts to reintroduce the species to the wild have been hampered by the lack of wilderness in densely populated eastern China. Nanhaizi was presumably outside the deer's natural range, but a historically suitable area to breed the animal. Certainly successful, the park currently has about 160 specimens, raised from an original stock of 22 donated by Woburn Abbey. One of the first questions that director Guo Geng directed towards the visiting German zoo directors was whether they might have any need of further deer, an offer that both had to politely decline.

White-lipped or Thorold's deer (Cervus albirostris), Chinese subspecies of red deer and sika, fallow deer originally imported from Europe, and North China roe (Capreolus pygargus bedfordi), a very rare deer even in Chinese zoos, are other cervid species raised in large paddocks at Nanhaizi. The Père David's deer themselves are kept together with emu, of all creatures, in a huge enclosure fenced in over a dried-out river bed. The only other species on exhibit in the park, during our visit at least, was the Mongolian wild horse.

Like the Beijing Centre for Breeding Endangered Animals, the Nanhaizi Milu Park is open to the public, but not exactly flooded by tourists. Admission costs only ten yuan (86 pence or US$1.20) for adults and six yuan for children, but the vast majority of the 30,000 visitors a year, Professor Guo admitted, are pupils coming in groups. For them Professor Guo has designed imaginative educational trails along the pathway that encourage children to contemplate conservation. A labyrinth in which children only find their way out again when knowing (or guessing) the right answer to a question on ecology at each fork along the way, and a `graveyard' of domino stones in one long row, each marked by the name and year of extinction of an animal species or subspecies that has died out within the last couple of centuries, are among the more attractive demonstrations addressing children. The newest project at the park is a dormitory with 60 guest rooms and halls for seminars, luring college students and visiting zoologists. The building appeared to be rather large for such a modest institution, but one impression we took back with us is that in today's Beijing, big is beautiful. The popularity of antler velvet in Chinese folk medicine insures Nanhaizi's financial security, but discretion leaves that fact unmentioned on the park's educational boards.

Beijing's other `arks', the five competing public aquaria, big and small, scattered around the city, and the surviving safari park an hour's drive north of Tian'an Men in the shadow of the Great Wall, all too have to fend for themselves. The 3.5-million-litre walk-through `Blue Zoo' adjacent to Beijing's largest stadium is the zoo aquarium's only real competition. Opened by the ambassador from New Zealand in late 1997, it attracted a million visitors in its first year. The safari park gained international notoriety in 1999 when it introduced a behavioural enrichment programme that went too far even for the likes of Zoo Check: feeding big cats live cattle. Word soon got around to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has an office in Beijing headed by a Chinese-American, and it didn't take long for the news (and appropriate photos) to hit the tabloids from Hong Kong to Hamburg. Zhang Jianlong, a spokesman for the Chinese Department of Forestry, announced immediate legislation to put a stop to cruelty to animals in zoos. Cynics might snort that such a law, taken seriously, would lead to the closure of all the country's menageries and wild-animal and safari parks, but our week in Beijing (as well as my own observation in other Chinese zoos in the past) suggests that the zoological gardens and parks in China do serve the same good purpose that they do in the West: not only amusing but educating the public, and making wild animals popular in general. Even if television could displace zoos as a vehicle for reaching the people on issues such as conservation, nature programmes on Chinese TV are almost exclusively imported from Europe and the United States; they show virtually nothing of China's unique wildlife. Beijing Zoo is probably the best in the country, and if it's nowhere near the best in the world, it is still the optimal introduction to wildlife that most of ten million people annually can currently hope for.


Anon. (1988): Keine Appetithappen für Tiger. Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 9 August, p. 32.

Anon. (1999): Beijing Zoo to host China's largest aquarium. Chinese Business World 30: 20.

Anon. (1999): Mahlzeit im Löwengehege. Hamburger Morgenpost, 24 July, p. 6.

Anon. (1999): 1.05 million foreign tourists visit Beijing in H1.

Anon. (2000): Lele, a giant panda in Beijing Zoo, gave birth to twin cubs. China Daily (Beijing), online ed., 8 August.

Blaszkiewitz, B. (2000): Zu Besuch im Zoologischen Garten Peking. Milu 10: 124–135.

Brambell, M. (1979): The Peking Zoo. In Great Zoos of the World (ed. S. Zuckerman), pp. 144–149. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London.

Buckley, M., Samalgalski, A., Storey, R., Taylor, C., and Lindenmayer, C. (1994): China – a Travel Survival Kit (4th ed.), pp. 589, 625. Lonely Planet, Melbourne.

Burns, J.F. (1985): 22 rare deer are returned to native ground in China. New York Times, 26 August, p. A3.

Crandall, L.S. (1964): The Management of Wild Mammals in Captivity, pp. 120, 318. University of Chicago Press.

Feng Youqian (no date): Current working situation of Beijing Zoo on wildlife shifted-place protection and population development. Unpublished MS.

Growald, R.H. (1987): One good turn deserves two pandas. San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 August, p. B-1.

Liang Yu (2000): Centre to bolster panda protection. China Daily (Beijing), online ed., 15 April.

Liu Jun (2000): From tiny cubs come great pandas. China Daily (Beijing), online ed., 15 February.

Littlefair, P. (1999): RSPCA report on Chinese zoos.

Qiu Bingxing (1982): Qian jinsihoude yi zhang zhen zhao [A unique photograph of the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey]. Daziran [Nature] 7: 60.

Reichenbach, H. (2001): Das Erbe der Kaiserinwitwe – Die Geschichte des Pekinger Tiergartens. Bongo 31: 40–47 (in press).

Rosenthal, E. (2000): At a Beijing aquarium, dolphins are hostages. New York Times, 3 April, p. A8.

Schepp, M. (1999): Blutige Spiele. Stern, 21 October, pp. 42–44; 2 December, p. 21.

T'an Pang-chieh (1964): Prize catches by Chinese animal collectors. Der Zoologische Garten 29: 168–173.

Wang, V. (1999): Aquarium wars. Beijing City Edition, 28 May, p. 10.

Wedderburn, J. (2000): Chinese zoos A–Z.

Xin Dingding (1999): In vogue – adopting an animal. China Daily (Beijing), online ed., 27 December.

Herman Reichenbach, Paul-Sorge-Strasse 74, 22459 Hamburg, Germany. (E-mail:

* * *



Little is known about Japanese zoos outside of that arc-shaped archipelago at the eastern edge of Asia. Being bilingual with Japanese and having access to some of its zoo-related literature, I thought it desirable to periodically publish interesting accounts in English, especially on animal collections in Japanese zoos. Three decades after I left the country JAZGA still keeps me on the mailing list, and I am truly appreciative. With No. 243 (March 1993) of I.Z.N. the review of zoo animal groups in Japan began, based on the Annual Reports of the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (JAZGA). It became an annual writing project, a practice that came to a screeching halt in 1999, when JAZGA's annual animal inventories ceased to arrive at my door. From what I heard the publication delay was due to a computer problem (ah, modern technology!). With the arrival of the 1997 JAZGA animal inventory on 2 September 2000, the `annual article' is back on track.

Entirely in Japanese, the soft-bound Annual Report is a collection of business statistics, including some of the biological subjects, such as animal longevity and breeding. In accordance with the Japanese fiscal year, the information covers the period from 1 April through 31 March of the following year. Thus, the 1997 Report actually contains data for the period ending 31 March 1998. The animal inventory section of the Report is in a separate volume, and it lists animals at the member institutions, as of 31 December of the year. A significant improvement has been noted in the 1997 inventory. Scientific names have now been added, allowing the publication to emerge from its enigmatic shell by one step. Now, those with no knowledge of the language can at least figure out the number of animals held in JAZGA member institutions, even though the names of holding institutions are still in Japanese.

1. Overview

According to Austin (1961), parrots show affinities in anatomy and in habits to both pigeons and cuckoos. Of these, cuckoos do not have much impact in zoo avian collections. Pigeons and parrots, particularly the latter, are popular in the pet trade, often targeted in international wildlife traffic, and some are protected by various national and international measures. Although small in size, both parrots and pigeons are colorful and occupy an interesting niche in zoos, frequently ornamental in terms of exhibitry. For those reasons, the two orders Columbiformes and Psittaciformes are chosen in this account. The inventory lists 366 specimens in 21 species belonging to Columbiformes, and 2,101 specimens in 62 species belonging to Psittaciformes (see Table 1), constituting a sizeable number. JAZGA now has 98 zoos and 65 aquariums, but almost all of these birds are kept in zoos.

Taxonomic names have been taken from the inventory, and commonly used English names, for instance by ISIS, have been adopted. In some cases subspecies were given in the inventory, but I have combined them on the species level to simplify the statistics. Amazons and macaws are relatively easy to identify, yet there were three dozen birds, mostly macaws, listed as `species unknown'. These have been deleted, along with one macaw hybrid.

Both orders have domesticated forms, and careful treatment is required in discussing avian collections in zoos. The inventory has a separate listing for domesticated forms which includes the rock dove, turtle dove and budgerigar; yet domesticated forms of rock doves and turtle doves also appear under the main listing. All domestic forms have been deleted from this account. Regarding Psittaciformes, the budgerigar appeared in both listings, leading us to assume that the population in the main listing is the wild form. The cockatiel raises a similar question, since we are not sure if the population listed here belongs to the domesticated or the wild form. In popular bird groups such as these, there exists a gray area, with birds commonly kept in captivity, presumably for generations, and yet not commonly treated as domesticated. Nevertheless, cockatiels are included in Table 1.

2. Family-by-family account

Columbidae: Included in this family is a total of 366 specimens in 21 species of pigeons and doves. In terms of the genera commonly seen in zoos, they are relatively well represented. But in comparison to `Western' (i.e. European and North American) collections fruit doves are the late comers, and have yet to make an inroad into Japanese zoos. The universal popularity of the crowned pigeons is also noticeable in this part of the world. Streptopelia orientalis, a native species, is virtually absent in Western zoos but seen in large numbers in Japanese collections. As a matter of fact this writer recalls seeing a wild population on the Ueno Zoo grounds, in the midst of Tokyo.

Loriidae: A large number of unsexed birds is noticeable among the 387 specimens in 6 species, despite their CITES II status. In comparison to Western collections, the inventory reveals a limited variety, with a smaller number of species.

Cacatuidae: With 356 specimens in 10 species, the family is relatively well represented by the JAZGA member institutions. Although small in terms of the number of species, they are highly valued in the pet trade and in the private sector.

Psittacidae: By far the largest group in this account with approximately 1,400 specimens in 50 species, they include birds in prominent positions in the pet trade, such as the macaws and amazons. Large numbers of macaws such as the blue-and-yellow, green-winged and scarlet are commonly noted in both Japanese and Western zoo collections.

3. Conservation programs and breeding

Under the umbrella of the Species Survival Committee of Japan (SSCJ), the following species in the two avian orders are either in the studbooks, or coordinators are assigned to them: All three crowned pigeons, white cockatoo, Goffin's cockatoo, salmon-crested cockatoo, hyacinth macaw, Buffon's macaw, scarlet macaw and military macaw. None is native to Japan. Conspicuous by their absence from the SSCJ program are some of the pigeon species, which are poorly represented in zoo collections but seem to be in need of cooperative management. A case in point is the black wood pigeon (Columba janthina), the largest of the Japanese pigeons. It is an uncommon resident of warm temperate-zone forests, and not much is known about it.

On 21–22 October 1997, the SSCJ held its tenth annual conference, where reports and discussions took place concerning the current status and future directions of management programs. A quick glance at the conference proceedings reveals a rather uneven distribution of resources allocated to various avian groups. Some taxonomic groups, such as cranes and penguins, have been receiving a fair amount of attention and effort, compared to other groups such as raptors (see Kawata, 1996, 1997, 1998). Pigeons and parrots belong to the latter category. The general impression is that these birds are mainly used as ornamentals by the holding institutions, with no serious intention to bring them into meaningful programs. Several weeks prior to the conference, SSCJ conducted a poll to review the housing and exhibition of these birds. The return rate of the questionnaire was 78.2 %. Of the 32 enclosures for pigeons surveyed (44 holding institutions), only two were provided for pairs of birds, while the rest were for mixed species exhibits. As for parrots (72 holding institutions), 131 enclosures were for pairs and 116 were for mixed species exhibits.

To be more specific, of the 15 enclosures for crowned pigeons, only two were for pair housing, and others were for mixed species exhibits. One of the reasons that parrots tend to be kept in single pair holding could be due to their persistently destructive habit of gnawing and chewing objects in their captive environment. By comparison, pigeons are often housed with other birds, which does not necessarily keep them from nesting, but it could be a factor contributing to poor breeding results.

Focusing on large psittacines, the coordinator of the salmon-crested cockatoo program asked (in large and bold print), `How can we get member institutions to actively participate in the breeding program?' He added that many zoos with single surplus birds have no intention of sending them out for breeding, and those who have pairs would not provide a proper captive environment. He suggested that these were the contributing factors for poor breeding performance and high mortality. A host of measures was suggested to remedy the situation, including more reliable sexing. Other coordinators also brought up the issue of the numerous unsexed birds. The coordinator for the scarlet macaw also discussed zoos' lack of interest in breeding the birds, noticing that 43% of the holding institutions kept single birds, which amounted to 18% of the entire population. The number of unsexed birds did decrease from 62% in the previous year to 41%, but it was still quite high. Positive identification of individual birds was another issue. On top of this, not many zoos provide an environment to enhance breeding, resulting in poor reproductive performance in spite of the sizeable population held by zoos. The situation appears similar across other large psittacine populations, he noted. He also commented that due to the small number held and the difficulty of pairing, Japanese zoos in principle should not keep the hyacinth macaw.

It is no surprise that zoos showed little understanding of the need for regional collection planning, and that it was premature to attempt to formulate such a plan at this conference. In fact, in some species there were no goals for the numbers of birds and holding institutions. Again, this is in sharp contrast to breeding successes in cranes and penguins. These two bird groups have strong traditions in Japanese zoos. Cranes are intimately tied to Japanese culture, and crane breeding in zoos dates back to the turn of the (20th) century. Penguins' high popularity is universal. Thus, not only culture and public appeal, but also history has given these birds clout. Such a basis for support is non-existent for pigeons and parrots.

The lack of interest in managing, or at least breeding, pigeons and parrots is indicative of a major problem of Japanese zoos – a poverty of professionalism. In zoos, it is middle-level managers, mainly curators, who constitute the driving force for activities such as wildlife conservation programs. But compared to their Western counterparts, the layer of middle management in Japanese zoos is paper-thin. A curatorial system in the Western sense does not exist in Japanese zoos. It takes exceptional individuals to push for conservation programs for columbids and psittacines; they are often isolated with little support from others. But the root of the problem does not solely lie with the middle management.

In Japanese zoos, unbeknownst to outsiders, selection of species (and some other aspects as well) is largely in the hands of animal dealers. Within the last couple of decades the situation may have changed somewhat, but by and large powerful animal dealers, not the staff, influence the decision as to what species are to be exhibited in a zoo. This is done with the blessing of the director. Be reminded that mainstream Japanese zoos are municipal, and that directors are municipal appointees, assigned to the zoo at a whim of the city's administration. Having no background in biology or experience in zoos, they are an alien element to the profession, yet they are at the helm of the zoo. With no knowledge of animals, they rely on animal dealers in the collection aspects of their duties. These men (directors are almost always males) use their position briefly as a stepping stone, only to be replaced by newer appointees.

To illustrate the point, between March 1990 and April 1996, Nogeyama Zoo in Yokohama had four directors. In other words, the zoo had a new director every 18 months. Considering that not every man is cut out to be a zoo director, it would be a matter of a small miracle were a capable and insightful man to be given a zoo assignment. Even if that should ever happen, very few men would be able to become thoroughly familiar with the zoo profession within a short span of time. By the time a director has begun to grasp zoo issues, his term is up and he has to vacate the position. Those short-term, non-zoologist municipal managers cannot be expected to make reasonable decisions in technical areas, such as wildlife conservation.

As the job title indicates, a director must give directions to his subordinates. It is his job to lead the crew with vision for the future. Wildlife conservation, the focal point in today's zoos, represents a lofty goal in any nation. A director of a leading zoo should have enough foresight and knowledge to carry out his responsibilities, especially on a global level. One cannot expect a man who was, until yesterday, in a public health or landscape department to direct international conservation breeding programs. This picture presents an awkward contrast with the image of Japan as a towering giant in the international economic and financial arena. There is no realistic chance that the Japanese zoo system will be reformed in the foreseeable future. Large psittacines are known for longevity, but even they cannot outlive the Japanese system to see their day in court.

Table 2 depicts hatchings of columbids and psittacines during the fiscal year. It is by no means an impressive `report card'. Considering all the above, however, one can appreciate the fact that those birds hatched in spite of the poor captive conditions, some through blind luck, but some as a result of the efforts of a small number of dedicated workers. Presumably the ratio of captive-hatched birds in the populations is rather low, and more attention should be given to the reproductive potential of those valuable birds. When the Goffin's cockatoo was added to the CITES Appendix I in 1992, a wave of young birds was brought to Japan, which now constitute 90% of the zoo population. They are reaching sexual maturity, and thus far two hatched during the year. Yet many are still listed as sex unknown.

4. Longevity

Longevity data in the Report show animals who were still living as of 31 March 1998, or who died within one year of that date. The cut-off point for this list was set at 21 years in captivity. According to the Report there was hardly any columbid worth mentioning, except for a `crowned pigeon' listed as 22 years in a small park, with no specifics such as arrival date, sex or even species. Hence, Table 3 represents psittacines exclusively. Positive identification of psittacines did become an issue at the aforementioned SSCJ meeting, which could cast a potential problem on record keeping. Data in Table 3 are based on face value of the Report. Ranking at the top of the longevity list is a blue-and-yellow macaw, sex and actual age unknown, at Itozu Zoo. It was received from an animal dealer on 19 February 1954, marking a full 44 years at the zoo.

In the 31–35 year category, a male hyacinth macaw that arrived at Kobe Oji Zoo on 11 March 1962 ranks at the top, followed by another hyacinth macaw (sex unknown) that arrived at Himeji Zoo on 31 August 1964. Three others in the category include a white cockatoo (sex unknown, arrived on 1 April 1966 at Kiryugaoka Zoo), a Buffon's macaw (male, arrived on 20 May 1966 at Kobe Oji Zoo) and a green-winged macaw (sex unknown, arrived on 30 October 1967 at Kamine Zoo). The only birds on the longevity list whose exact ages are known are two (1.1) green-winged macaws, hatched on 10 May 1966 (location not listed) and arrived at Komoro Zoo on 26 September 1969.

The longest record-holding specimens of the blue-and-yellow macaw, the Buffon's macaw and the white cockatoo, in addition to the red-masked conure (sex unknown, arrived on 10 March 1969 at Fukuoka Zoo), in Table 3 surpass the previous records reported by Brouwer et al. (2000). A chattering lory in the table has come very close to the record, with 26 years and 5 months. Brouwer et al. mention that cockatoos hold the most outstanding longevity records of all psittacines, while in Japanese zoos, macaws seem to dominate the list. Despite the large holding, amazons have not had impressive longevity records overall.

In proportion to the large holdings in zoos, the number of birds on the longevity list may appear too low. For instance, there is a combined total of 330 macaws in three species (blue-and-yellow, green-winged and scarlet), yet only 17 have managed to live longer than 21 years. If the figures appear suspiciously low, there is at least one good reason. Many Japanese zoos are still too young to have achieved significant longevities in long-living animal groups such as the psittacines. Roughly 56% of JAZGA member zoos were opened after 1960, a factor that is bound to have an adverse effect on the longevity statistics.


Austin, O.L., and Singer, A. (illustrator) (1961): Birds of the World. Golden Press, New York.

Brouwer, K., Jones, M.L., King, C.E., and Schifter, H. (2000): Longevity records for Psittaciformes in captivity. International Zoo Yearbook 37: 299–316.

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (1997): Proceedings of the 10th Conference of the Species Survival Committee of Japan. (In Japanese.)

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (1998): The 1997 Annual Report. (In Japanese.)

Kawata, K. (1996): Large wading birds in Japanese collections, 1994. International Zoo News 43 (2): 100–106.

Kawata, K. (1997): Penguins in Japanese zoos and aquariums, 1995. International Zoo News 44 (3): 132–139.

Kawata, K. (1998): Raptors in Japanese zoos, 1996. International Zoo News 45 (1): 11–20.

Ken Kawata, General Curator, Staten Island Zoo, New York 10310–2896, U.S.A.

Table 1. Columbids and psittacines in Japanese zoos.

Species No. of birds No. of zoos


Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) 3.7.14 4

Green-winged dove (Chalcophaps indica) 6.9.7 6

Black wood pigeon (Columba janthina) 3.4.2 4

Ruddy ground dove (Columbina talpacoti) 0.1 1

Pied imperial pigeon (Ducula bicolor) 4.4.29 5

Giant pigeon (D. goliath) 0.1 1

Bleeding heart pigeon (Gallicolumba luzonica) 1.0.1 2

Diamond dove (Geopelia cuneata) 16.15.25 10

Zebra dove (G. striata) 4.4.20 2

Blue crowned pigeon (Goura cristata) 7.8 5

Scheepmaker's crowned pigeon (G. scheepmakeri) 3.3.2 2

Victoria crowned pigeon (G. victoria) 5.4.1 6

Crested pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) 1.1.5 2

Jambu fruit dove (Ptilinopus jambu) 1.0 1

Superb fruit dove (P. superbus) 2.1 1

Spotted dove (Streptopelia chinensis tigrina) 0.0.7 1

Collared dove (S. decaocto) 1.0.1 2

Oriental turtle dove (S. orientalis) 20.22.73 22

Red turtle dove (S. tranquebarica) 0.0.7 1

White-bellied pigeon (Treron sieboldii) 2.4.2 4

White-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) 0.0.3 1


Black lory (Chalcopsitta atra) 0.1 1

Red lory (Eos bornea) 5.2.9 7

Chattering lory (Lorius garrulus) 2.2.10 7

Black-capped lory (L. lory) 2.2.15 3

Dusky lory (Pseudeos fuscata) 0.0.5 1

Rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) 7.9.316 19


White cockatoo (Cacatua alba) 6.7.11 14

Sulphur-crested cockatoo (C. galerita) 21.19.22 38

Goffin's cockatoo (C. goffini) 12.5.13 9

Mitchell's cockatoo (C. leadbeateri) 2.1 2

Salmon-crested cockatoo (C. moluccensis) 35.22.10 30

Lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo (C. sulphurea) 14.9.17 24

Long-billed corella (C. tenuirostris) 0.1 1

Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) 4.5.2 6

Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) 42.23.52 19

Palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) 0.0.1 1


Fischer's lovebird (Agapornis fischeri) 3.2.80 12

Masked lovebird (A. personata) 2.3.68 8

Nyasa lovebird (A. lilianae) 5.6.84 5

Peach-faced lovebird (A. roseicollis) 7.7.5 10

Blue-fronted amazon (Amazona aestiva) 3.3.32 23

Orange-winged amazon (A. amazonica) 0.0.6 5

Yellow-naped amazon (A. auropalliata) 6.10.19 20

Red-lored amazon (A. autumnalis) 0.0.1 1

Yellow-shouldered amazon (A. barbadensis) 2.4.5 8

Red-tailed amazon (A. brasiliensis) 0.0.1 1

Yellow-crowned amazon (A. ochrocephala) 4.0.6 6

Mealy amazon (A. farinosa) 0.0.2 2

Vinaceous amazon (A. vinacea) 0.1 1

Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) 5.2.4 7

Buffon's macaw (Ara ambigua) 5.5.12 11

Blue-and-yellow macaw (A. ararauna) 35.22.82 49

Green-winged macaw (A. chloroptera) 21.31.61 36

Scarlet macaw (A. macao) 23.24.31 34

Military macaw (A. militaris) 2.2.2 4

Red-fronted macaw (A. rubrogenys) 1.2 1

Red-masked conure (Aratinga erythrogenys) 0.0.1 1

Patagonian conure (Cyanoliseus patagonus) 1.0.4 5

Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus) 6.5 6

Slender-billed conure (Enicognathus leptorhynchus) 0.1 1

Blue-crowned parrot (Loriculus galgulus) 4.0.1 2

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) 95.76.322 30

Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta m. monachus) 0.0.1 1

Nanday conure (Nandayus nenday) 1.1.1 2

Bourke's parrot (Neophema bourkii) 0.0.1 1

Turquoise parrot (N. pulchella) 3.0 1

Scarlet-chested parrot (N. splendida) 1.0 1

Blue-headed parrot (Pionus menstruus) 0.0.1 1

Pale-headed rosella (Platycercus adscitus) 0.2.3 3

Crimson rosella (P. elegans) 4.3.3 6

Eastern rosella (P. eximius) 3.2.9 8

Western rosella (P. icterotis) 3.3.1 2

Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) 1.0 1

Princess parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) 3.0.4 3

Superb parrot (P. swainsonii) 4.1.3 2

Red-capped parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius) 1.0 1

Red-rumped parrot (Psephotus haematonotus) 3.0.5 3

Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) 2.4.6 9

Moustached parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) 5.0.1 4

Derbyan parakeet (P. derbiana) 3.1.4 2

Alexandrine parakeet (P. eupatria) 3.3.1 3

Rose-ringed parakeet (P. krameri manilensis) 6.2.1 7

Table 2. Columbids and psittacines hatched in Japanese zoos.

(Figures in brackets represent the number of birds that failed to survive.)

Species No. hatched No. of zoos

Nicobar pigeon 3 1

Green-winged dove 5 (2) 1

Diamond dove 16 (13) 3

Blue crowned pigeon 1 (1) 1

Superb fruit dove 1 (1) 1

Rainbow lorikeet 1 1

White cockatoo 4 (3) 2

Goffin's cockatoo 2 1

Salmon-crested cockatoo 1 1

Lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo 4 (2) 3

Fischer's lovebird 8 (8) 1

Buffon's macaw 3 1

Blue-and-yellow macaw 7 (4) 2

Green-winged macaw 5 3

Scarlet macaw 1 1

Blue-crowned parrot 7 (6) 1

Western rosella 1 1

Table 3. Longevity of psittacines in Japanese zoos.

(Due to the insignificant records, columbids have been excluded from this table. The years indicate duration of captivity, not ages, of birds.)

Species >36 yrs 31–35 yrs 26–30 yrs 21–25 yrs

Chattering lory 0 0 1 0

White cockatoo 0 1 0 1

Sulphur-crested cockatoo 0 0 0 1

Salmon-crested cockatoo 0 0 1 1

Lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo 0 0 0 1

Vinaceous amazon 0 0 0 1

Hyacinth macaw 0 2 0 0

Buffon's macaw 0 1 2 1

Blue-and-yellow macaw 1 0 3 2

Green-winged macaw 0 1 2 2

Scarlet macaw 0 0 3 3

Military macaw 0 0 0 1

Red-masked conure 0 0 1 0

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The primary sources for studies on the history of zoological gardens are, of course, original documents, if still available. However, many such institutions have little sense of history and in many cases zoo archives are defective, to say the least. The main secondary sources of material for the zoo historian are zoo guides, zoo periodicals and, of course, zoo books. Every good zoo guide should contain some data on the zoo's history, although, again, many guide books are, to put it mildly, somewhat disappointing in this respect. Published studies of zoo history are increasingly available in the German-speaking area (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). Among well-researched general treatises, i.e. books not specific to a particular zoo, those of the joint authors Rieke-Müller and Dittrich are the most outstanding (see References for three book titles). The present author has recently acquired five titles in German on four Austrian, Swiss and German zoological gardens of some considerable standing; in addition a recent book on the Arnhem Zoo (Netherlands) will be discussed.

A note of caution should be sounded. These books originate from the zoological gardens in question. Understandably, ups and downs of the history of these establishments are not always equally treated. I refer to Heini Hediger, who left Basel in a huff (of which not a word appears in the Basel book), but whose wrangles with the board of trustees in Zürich are fairly described in the relevant tome (see also Hediger's autobiography: Hediger, 1990).

Two titles on the Vienna Zoological Garden

Recently I acquired two books on Schönbrunn, the venerable Vienna zoo. This widely known establishment had gone through an extremely difficult period when it practically ground to a halt through bureaucratic procedure in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Tiergarten Schönbrunn, as it is now called, had been a state-run institution just like the Paris, Washington and Pretoria gardens. Finally, after the perhaps avoidable death of an Indian elephant and mainly due to pressure from the media (TV and the press) and action groups, this zoo was released in 1991 by the authorities to start a life of its own as a limited company. Immediately the Austrian state supplied very substantial investment sums for renovation and new buildings. Also, numerous firms were prepared to sponsor animals and future plans, while the population of Vienna also played a major role; indeed, this zoo lives in the hearts of the citizens of Austria's capital. The new board appointed as director Dr H. Pechlaner, who had made such a success of leading the Innsbruck Zoo (1979–1991). This charismatic and highly motivated expert at once made the old establishment buzz with multifarious activities, promising to rebuild Tiergarten Schönbrunn within ten years. His aim was to make the Vienna zoo into a world-class establishment by the time of its 250th birthday in 2002. This sounds easier than it is, because the majority of the existing buildings, being historical monuments, were to be left inviolate. Yet, it seems that he is going to succeed! What has been accomplished in eight years without distracting from the historical character of the place is already quite exceptional. Within five years income generated from outside sources has increased from 30% to 85% of the total budget. This zoo is visited by 1.2 million visitors per annum, the society of friends of the zoo numbers more than 5,000 members, etc. This, indeed, is a gem of a zoo, and it is going to get better all the time! The director also wants it to be `the zoo of happy animals'; he and his staff are doing their very best to design new or refurbish old enclosures that ensure a maximum of biologically correct environment.

Two recent books celebrate Schönbrunn zoological garden. The first is by a newspaper reporter, Gerhard Kunze, who has played a major role in awakening public opinion to the plight of the zoo – he deserves the thanks of all people who have a soft spot for this historic place. Because he is also a photo-journalist his book is beautifully and lavishly illustrated (in both colour and black-and-white), with a good many historical pictures as well. He has properly researched the long and turbulent history of Schönbrunn Zoo and its predecessors. Many a story is of more than passing interest, such as the early morning zoo visits by the Emperor Franz Joseph, who had a little door made in the wall around the animal park so that he could visit his mistress of the day without drawing attention to himself – everybody knew that the emperor was highly interested in the `awakening of the animals'! Another episode of importance was the birth in 1906 of the first-ever Indian elephant conceived in captivity. This animal, a female, lived for 38 years, until 1944, when it died from an intestinal infection. Under the new regime a spacious new elephant house with a large outside enclosure has been built for African elephants, which they hope to breed in the near future. The new and dynamic director obviously has a knack for obtaining money to realize his large-scale plans, and Kunze has greatly contributed to the popularity of the zoo and its director. This journalist deserves all the credit he can get for what he has done to help preserve this important historical institution. Even if you cannot read German, this highly interesting book is worth the money for its beautiful illustrations. Three of the colour photos struck me as particularly noticeable, the one of the laughing grey seal on p. 12, one of a curious polar bear on his balcony watching the seals perform on p. 73, and the view of the cheetah enclosure from inside one of the old carnivore cages on p. 172. This photograph shows how the world has changed: where visitors used to walk is now the cheetahs' outside enclosure, and the visitors stroll through the old outside cages!

The director, Dr Helmut Pechlaner, busy though he must continuously be, has also contributed a colourful volume on his experiences as a zoo director in both Innsbruck and Vienna. Although it mainly focuses on the animals, it also contains some historic data, e.g. on the elephant and monkey houses, and the first giraffe in Vienna (1828). Throughout, the book is lavishly illustrated in colour, including some old material. This is another modern book on Tiergarten Schönbrunn supplying valuable data on the beginning of the Pechlaner era.

A two-volume treatise on Basel Zoological Garden

The venerable zoological garden in Basel, the senior zoo in Switzerland, celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1999, for which occasion they published a beautiful two-volume treatise under the editorship of J. Hess. The first volume covers the history, the animals, animal husbandry throughout the period 1874–1999, the ever-changing mission statements and future plans, in twenty chapters by a variety of expert authors and illustrated by black-and-white photographs. This is a very worthwhile book because it well reflects the changes in zoological garden management in general and those in Basel in particular. There is plenty of historical material (I love those photographs of little girls in big hats in front of heavily-barred enclosures) which is properly evaluated. This zoo has always been in the forefront of new developments, for example in keeping species together (most strikingly in the combination of hippos, zebras and ostriches), and it can pride itself on outstanding breeding results with Indian rhinos, Somali wild asses, okapis, lesser kudus, African elephants, gorillas, flamingos and many more. Of course, we must not forget that Hediger was its director (the first university-trained zoologist to be in charge here) in the period 1944–1953. The second volume is solely dedicated to a series of superb colour photographs of the gardens today; there is no text, but the pictures, some very unusual and/or beautiful, speak for themselves. Both volumes are bound and presented in a slip-case. This particular zoological garden was well-documented already, but this is the most lavish and informative publication yet in its 125 years of existence. Incidentally, this zoo has always been well-endowed, so future development, which promises to be very exciting indeed, seems assured.

A book to commemorate Zürich Zoo's first 70 years

The Zürich zoological garden, Switzerland's second most important zoo, dates from 1929. A book by Röthlin and Müller was published in early 2000 and, again, may be considered an important source for zoo history studies. We should not forget that the famous Hediger was also director here (1954–1973) and, as at Basel, the first professionally-trained zoologist in charge of the zoo.

Although only 70 years old and never having experienced wartime conditions, Zürich Zoo has had more than its fair share of accidents and incidents, making for a colourful history. Here I will only mention the black panther escape (1933), the male elephant killing a nightly intruder (1944) and subsequently a relief keeper (1946), the giraffe tragedy (1949), the difficulties of Dr Hediger with his board of trustees (1957–1959), and the failure to establish the pygmy hog (Sus salvanius) in captivity (1976–1977).

Of course, these are all negative happenings, unfortunately resulting in a lot of press coverage. However, we must not forget that Zürich Zoo has been in the forefront of breeding endangered species, first and foremost the black rhino, but also Indian elephant, Rothschild's grackle (the famous and almost extinct Bali mynah, 1965–1987: 250th bird hatched, representing the fifth generation in Zürich) and giant tortoises, to name but a few. Also, Zürich Zoo has been a hub of scientific research since Hediger arrived in 1954. The future plans are to increasingly change the grounds into an `ecoreserve' based on biogeographical principles. Parts of this, such as the successful South American mountain forest with spectacled bears and ring-tailed coatis, and the Himalaya complex with lesser pandas, tigers, snow leopards and Mongolian wolves, have already been completed.

The book is well documented; extracts from correspondence, reports, newspaper articles and the like are shown on a coloured background, giving a look of authenticity. The book is lavishly illustrated in black-and-white and colour with an abundance of historical photos. The happenings leading to the opening of the zoo, spanning the period 1871–1929, are also fully discussed – the most astonishing fact here is that the city of Zürich already possessed a couple of lions long before there was a proper zoological garden! These animals were first boarded with Hagenbeck in Hamburg and later removed to Basel Zoo, where they even raised cubs. The appendix (pp. 272–289) gives interesting details of e.g. staff, posters, financial data, a list of animal species as at 31.12.1998, and also the total amount of food used in 1998 (e.g., 16,640 eggs, 48 kg of vitamins for marmosets, 816 litres of orange juice, 800 bottles of malt beer for the gorillas and orang-utans, 8.5 litres of mosquito larvae, and 56 wagon loads of grass). This well-researched and illustrated history is of importance to anyone interested in zoological gardens and deserves a wide circle of readers far beyond the confines of Switzerland's greatest city.

A book in honour of the 50th birthday of Magdeburg Zoo

Books like this (relatively modest) volume are invaluable sources for historical data. It sketches the modest beginnings of the zoo during the communist regime in East Germany (D.D.R.), chronicling an amazing period of growth followed by a new lease of life after the reunification of Germany in 1990. Started as a Heimattiergarten, a park for local animals only, it grew within a few decades into a medium-sized zoological garden (14.5 hectares) with a comprehensive collection and remarkable breeding results.

Magdeburg Zoo nowadays specializes in marmosets and tamarins, maintaining 13 species (some infrequently seen in zoological gardens), most of which have bred successfully. Apart from that, they have an enviable record in breeding the black rhinoceros since 1979, now in the second generation with a calf born in 1995. Today the collection contains a number of rarities seldom seen elsewhere, e.g. kori bustard, red-and-yellow barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus), white-tailed colobus (C. guereza caudatus), Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica), wolverine, Amur cat (Prionailurus bengalensis euptilura), snow leopard, dhole (Cuon alpinus), Grevy's zebra, Bornean bearded pig (Sus b. barbatus), wart hog, Eld's deer, Kirk's dik-dik, forest buffalo, Japanese serow etc. In addition there are the usual species of mammals and birds; the collection of reptiles is limited to only nine species.

Two of the new buildings are of more than passing interest. First of all the giraffe house, built in 1991 in 110 hours as a challenge in a TV programme called Jetzt oder nie (`Now or never') – an item worth inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records? Nevertheless it is spacious, well-designed, well-built and completely functional, and has given no reasons for complaints after nine years. This building is partly environmentally friendly, with a roof covered with grass. Incidentally, the sprinkler system to water the grass once gave rise to a curious happening: in 1994 the fire brigade was called by neighbouring residents mistaking the fine spray in the distance for smoke coming from the roof of the building! The equally spacious ape house, erected in 2000 for chimpanzees, orang-utans, pygmy marmosets and tropical African birds, has also been designed as an environmentally friendly structure, partly covered with soil and plants and fully integrated into the green zoo scenery, more or less like the giraffe house. Finally, a state-of-the-art Siberian tiger enclosure was opened in the past year.

Apart from numerous liberally illustrated data on the animal population, there are also details of the six directors in the period 1950–2000. Initially the people of Magdeburg were asked to `voluntarily' lend a hand in building the zoo; it is a moot point whether to call this `forced labour' or not. Many participants did enjoy the work, showing their enthusiasm for their own zoo. The first director/founder was forced to resign in 1952 for political reasons (not being a true communist), the second director had to flee to West Germany in 1957 (his personal data and even a photograph are not yet available, because his files were sequestered by the secret police) – both events being symptoms of an authoritarian regime without any regard for the individual. The endpapers depict the zoo plan in colour in 1950 and in 2000, witness to the progress made in half a century. The final pages (pp. i–xxiv) show the metamorphosis of buildings and enclosures in the past fifty years (pp. i–ii), the covers of the 15 zoo guides published (pp. iii–iv – note the increasingly friendly lynx as a logo), a highly informative complete list of animal species kept in the period under review, with first year of breeding (pp. v–xxii), and photos of the directors (pp. xxiii–xxiv).

All in all, this is a modest, but very nice and highly informative book on what must be a little gem of a zoo in central Germany. For anybody able to read German this would be a valuable addition to a general zoo library; for others, the fine illustrations alone make it well worth buying.

A first book on Burgers' Zoo, Arnhem

Burgers' Zoo at Arnhem is widely known, even far beyond the Dutch borders, as being innovative in presenting major displays on an ecological base. These are Burgers' Bush (1988, now after a dozen years a very creditable facsimile of a tropical rainforest), the Mangrove Hall (1991, on a more modest scale, but nevertheless also quite successful), Burgers' Desert (1994, an American desert environment), and since last year also Burgers' Ocean. Beyond a few zoo guides, there is a dearth of published literature on this fascinating zoological garden which has had such a colourful history. Arnhem is the second location of this animal park (since 1924 – an early start was made in 's-Heerenberg in 1913), originally completely in the style of Hagenbeck. It experienced a prolonged traumatic period in the Second World War (1944–1945), after which they never looked back, pioneering a `safari park' (1968) and large-scale ape displays for chimpanzees and gorillas. In the late sixties they also became involved in scientific research, particularly in primate behaviour. This park has been extremely fortunate in the family that still runs it as a private enterprise. Two of the grandsons of the founder (Johan Burgers) have applied their talents to this institution, Antoon van Hooff as director and Jan van Hooff having the scientific responsibility – the latter is now Professor of Animal Behaviour at Utrecht University.

The book under the editorship of Antoon van Hooff contains a wealth of historical detail, well illustrated with many photographs. Most fascinating are some of the family portraits of the Burgers–van Hooff zoo directors' dynasty (e.g., on pp. 58–59 and 78–79). The short history of the Tilburg Zoo (1933–1971), initially a satellite establishment (until 1944), is also touched upon. Although a beautifully produced book, there are some drawbacks. First of all, there is no contents list or index, which is a pity. However, what is far worse is that in very many cases there are no captions to the illustrations, even though many of the – sometimes unusual – photos in colour (mostly by Jan Vermeer) depict less frequently seen animal species (and also plants). This is a serious omission, the more so because many photos feature interesting behaviour patterns as well (e.g. the chimpanzees on pp. 136 and 148–149). This book should appeal to a broad Dutch public and the illustrations should have been properly explained. Nevertheless, even if you do not understand Dutch, it is a valuable volume with lots of historic photographs in black-and-white and a host of stunning pictures in colour of the modern zoo.

Books reviewed

Hess, J. (ed.) (1999): Zoo Basel [125 Jahre]. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel. Two vols., 248 + 107 pp., hardback, in plastic slip-case. ISBN 3–85616–106–6, price DM78.00 (about £24).

Kunze. G. (2000): Tiergarten Schönbrunn: Von der Menagerie des Kaisers zu Helmut Pechlaners Zoo der glücklichen Tiere. Verlag L.W., Sankt Pölten, Wien. 224 pp., hardback, ISBN 3–9501179–0–3, price DM49.90 (about £15). (This is essentially a somewhat extended version of Kunze's 1993 book Tiergarten Schönbrunn: Bilder – Geschichte – Geschichten; this edition, however, only featured black-and-white illustrations.)

Pechlaner, H. (1997): Meine Schönbrunner Tiergeschichten. Verlag Holzhausen, Wien. 239 pp., hardback, ISBN 3–900518–68–8, price DM52.00 (about £16).

Röthlin, O., and Müller, K. (2000): Zoo Zürich: Chronik eines Tiergartens. NZZ Verlag, Zürich. 290 pp., hardback, ISBN 3–85823–754–X, price DM60.00 (about £18).

Schröpel, M. (2000): Im Zeichen des Luchses: 50 Jahre Zoo Magdeburg. Ein Chronik der Gründung und Entwicklung des Zoologischen Gartens Magdeburg. 129 + xxiv pp., numerous illustrations in black-and-white and colour, two zoo plans. (Price unknown: to be obtained from Magdeburg Zoo, Am Vogelgesang 12, D-39124 Magdeburg, Germany.)

van Hooff, A.J.J.J.M. (ed.) (2000): Burgers' Zoo. Burgers' Zoo / Gelders Dagblad, Arnhem. 240 pp., hardback, no ISBN number (to be ordered from Burgers' Zoo), price Hfl. 35.00 (about £10).


Dittrich, L., and Rieke-Müller, A. (1998): Carl Hagenbeck (1844–1913): Tierhandel und Schaustellungen im Deutschen Kaiseirreich. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

Hediger, H. (1990): Ein Leben mit Tieren im Zoo und in aller Welt. Werd Verlag, Zürich.

Rieke-Müller, A., and Dittrich, L. (1998): Der Löwe brüllt nebenan. Die Gründung Zoologischer Gärten im deutschspragigen Raum 1833–1869. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne.

Rieke-Müller, A., and Dittrich, L. (1999): Unterwegs mit wilden Tieren: Wandermenagerien zwischen Belehrung und Kommerz 1750–1850. Basilisken-Presse, Marburg/Lahn.

Dr A.C. van Bruggen, Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands. (

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The number of zoos and animal collections worldwide is unknown. Even in Europe it is difficult to know all collections and their actual status. Private collections as well as society-owned or government-owned zoos close down or open. Political and economic changes influence the existence even of well-known zoos. The list of zoos and aquariums of the world in the International Zoo Yearbook is incomplete, as is every other list of zoos. In Europe the Quantum Verzeichnis (Perron, 2000) gives an impression of the number of collections, but it, too, is incomplete.

Vernon Kisling's book (Kisling, 2000) on the history of zoos and aquariums has now been published. As a history, it shows the development of zoos and aquariums as cultural institutions through the centuries and in all continents; but it does not give a survey of all the zoos and aquariums of the world. In some cases, however, it is difficult to understand why certain countries are not mentioned at all. This is the case, for example, with the Tanzanian zoos of which John Tuson recently gave a survey in I.Z.N. (Tuson, 2000). Tanzania is not mentioned in the Yearbook's list, so maybe this is the reason.

Cuba is another country which has interesting animal collections whose work is at least educational. The history of keeping wild animals does not go back very far in Cuba; yet it was here that Rosalia Abreu lived with her outstanding collection of anthropoid apes. Here the first chimpanzee outside Africa was bred in 1915 (Montané, 1916). When I was in Cuba in 1995 I was able to visit the zoo at Santiago de Cuba, the Aquario Baconao and a crocodile farm. I was unfortunately unable to visit Havana Zoological Garden, whose history has been recorded by Bonilla (1988). I could spare only a short time for each of the collections, and was not able to talk to anybody there. So these notes are just some personal impressions of these three collections.

Cuba is a very impressive country for naturalists. Its rich wildlife still survives, and even during a short stay there it is possible to observe some of the island's famous creatures. Our hotel on the beach at Baconao was on the top of the cliff, and a path some hundred metres long led down to the beach. A colony of Cuban iguanas (Cyclura macleayi) lived in the cliffs above the path. It was astonishing to see these large animals running up and down or across the precipice. The iguanas are protected and therefore not shy. On the contrary, some of the adult animals came down to the beach near the public to get food such as boiled eggs, cakes or bananas. Other interesting animals were Cuban curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalus carinatus), which colonised the walls around the houses. These small animals were active all day long and showed territorial behaviour. They were much more nervous than their larger cousins. Free-flying turkey vultures, one humming bird and many other Cuban birds lived there too.

Baconao is a large area near the south-east coast of Cuba and is protected as a nature reserve. It is also a recreation and education centre for the Cuban people, especially for children. The Baconao Aquarium, a new and modern facility, is situated near the coast. Thanks to the consistently hot climate of Cuba, the aquarium is not a building, but a large open area with a number of big tanks. The tanks are sheltered and the technological support facilities are hidden in buildings adjacent to each tank or group of tanks. People walk on paths or on the grass and look into the different tanks. These tanks are of enormous size and the glass sides are nearly two metres high. An underwater tunnel is also part of the exhibition. Fishes of the Caribbean inhabit the tanks, but a small pool for dolphins also forms part of the aquarium. Unlike the fish tanks, which are above ground level, this is sunk into the ground, so people can only view it from above. In comparison with European or North American standards of keeping dolphins, the pool is far too small. In 1995 the lack of fuel was making life in Cuba very difficult; instead of buses, trucks carried people on most routes. The Baconao Aquarium is a long way from Santiago de Cuba, and it must have been difficult to maintain visits by schoolchildren even at the level they were at in 1995.

Some miles further away from Santiago on the same road is a crocodile farm, part of which is open to the public. Cuban crocodiles (C. rhombifer) are kept and bred here in large numbers. For most Cubans and tourists it provides the only chance to see this species.

Between the Baconao Aquarium and Santiago is an exhibition of prehistoric animals. This wide park is planted with grass and some trees and hedges, and between the plants you will find sculptures of prehistoric animals, from mammoths to saurians. This park is very popular and each day many school classes visit it. As far as we could discover, entrance for Cubans is free to both the aquarium and the prehistoric park. Foreigners have to pay a small amount.

The zoo in Santiago de Cuba is worth a visit. Just like the other places, it is crowded with school classes. Despite all the difficulties Cuba experiences as a result of the embargo, the zoo has some nice enclosures and interesting animals. However, some of the cages are poor and old; for example, the cages for monkeys and chimpanzees are relatively small, with iron bars and concrete floors. The chimpanzees demonstrated the use of tools in the way made famous by Köhler's chimpanzees in Tenerife, using long sticks to draw near cakes or other food people had thrown down outside their cage. The lions, tigers and bears have large rocky enclosures without bars, while antelopes and deer live in large enclosures with wire-mesh fences. The Cuban subspecies of the white-tailed deer kept there differs in its red colour from the mainland subspecies. Fishes, mostly guppies (Poecilia sp.), are sold to the children. The zoo also exhibits some Cuban birds such as eagles and owls, crocodiles, and some exotic animals.

The economic difficulties of Cuba influence zoos as much as other aspects of life. At the time of my visit the number of animals was still high and they seemed to be in good condition. But there was a lack of educational material, as well as of guides or any other printed items. It will be more and more difficult to replace animals which die, as the few Cuban zoos cannot maintain self-sustaining populations. The zoo community should think about some form of support for Cuban zoos, which are very important places for the environmental and biological education of the Cuban people. During the last few years some environmental and wildlife protection organisations have started to support Cuban nature conservation. In the past the zoos of East Germany had very close links with zoos in Cuba; maybe these old connections could be renewed, helping the Cuban zoos to become better integrated into the international zoo community.


Bonilla, A.M. (1988): Geschichte des Zoologischen Gartens Havanna. Der Zoologische Garten 58 (2): 115–122.

Kisling, V.N. (ed.) (2000): Zoo and Aquarium History: Ancient Animal Collections to Zoological Gardens. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Montané, L. (1916): A Cuban chimpanzee. Journal of Animal Behavior 6 (4): 330–333.

Perron, R. (ed.) (2000): Quantum Verzeichnis 2000 [Directory of European zoos and conservation oriented organisations]. Quantum Conservation, Diepholz, Germany.

Tuson, J. (2000): Zoos in Tanzania. International Zoo News 47 (4): 222–227.

Dr Harro Strehlow, Meierottostrasse 5, 10719 Berlin, Germany.

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Dear Sir,

With reference to your editorial in Vol. 47, No. 6, on unlikely food items for herbivores, I recall that in the 1970s Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney had a big pigeon population which was controlled by shooting. The shot birds would frequently land in a big yard holding red deer, and the deer would eat off the heads of the dead birds.

I also recall reading in a 1930 magazine about an Asian elephant which ate a bucket of fish.

Yours sincerely,

Richard J. Wood,

P.O. Box 64,

Seeb International Airport,

Post Code 111,

Sultanate of Oman.

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ZOO BASEL edited by Jörg Hess. Christoph Merian, Basel, 1999. 2 vols in slipcase, 248 + 112 pp., photographs, hardback. ISBN 3–85616–106–6. SFr. 68.00 (c. £28 or US$42).

ZOO ZÜRICH – CHRONIK EINES TIERGARTENS by Kurt Müller and Othmar Röthlin. NZZ-Buchverlag, Zürich, 2000. 290 pp., 350 illus., hardback. ISBN 3–85823–754–X. SFr. 58.00 (c. £24 or US$36).

ZOOLOGISCHE GÄRTEN ALS KAPITALGESELLSCHAFTEN – GESCHICHTLICHE ENTWICKLUNG UND FINANZIERUNG by Armin Schmitz and Arne Metzger. 192 pp., illus., hardback. ISBN 3–9806401–2–4. Antik Effekten, Frankfurt am Main, 2000. DM 145.00 (c. £47 or US$70).

The two major zoos of Switzerland, like the country itself, enjoy an international reputation far greater than the small size of their hinterland. Klein aber fein, one would say in German – small but exquisite. Switzerland's largest city, Zürich, has only 350,000 inhabitants; Basel, the second largest, about 180,000. Villages were they in China or India, yet known at least by name to presumably everyone of any education. Not surprisingly, Zürich and Basel also have the country's premier zoos, covering 27 (a decade ago only 12) and 13 hectares respectively (100 acres between them), and attracting annually a million visitors each – that is, four times their combined population. Both are on the pilgrimage map of every zoo director, not least, of course, because of Heini Hediger (1908–1992), director first of Basel and then of Zürich Zoo – and before that, incidentally, head of Dählhölzli in Bern, the third `real' zoo in Switzerland. He is universally recognized as the `father' of zoo biology; the `Nobel prize' of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria is called the Heini Hediger Award not without reason. Although he has been accused of not always practising what he preached, his innovations – and those of his successors – have earned Basel and Zürich acclaim. Their breeding records, too, are legend – Basel was the first zoo in Europe, for example, to breed flamingos, the gorilla, spectacled bear and great Indian rhinoceros. Zürich Zoo, having recently doubled its acreage, will spend SFr. 70m (c. £28m or US$36m) during the decade ending 2005 for the first phases of its modernization and expansion.

To commemorate Basel's 125th and Zürich's 70th anniversaries, two splendidly illustrated, coffee-table books are now in the bookshops, if not, presumably, in yours. Müller and Röthlin's history of Zürich Zoo is (almost) everything one could wish of a chronicle: well-researched, lavishly illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs, comprehensive and detailed. A look at the publisher is reassuring: NZZ stands for Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of the oldest, best informed and most prestigious newspapers in the world. The only feature really missing – I certainly miss it – is an index.

The book edited by the photographer Jörg Hess is not a history of Basel Zoo, but a celebration. Volume 2 is a portfolio, in colour, of photographs taken by Hess himself over the years in the Zolli, as the people of Basel fondly call their zoo. Volume I is a collection of 20 essays by two dozen authors addressing various aspects of keeping wild animals in zoos, in Basel or in general: behavioural enrichment, of course, veterinary medicine, zoo horticulture, education, friends of the zoo, the profession of zoo keeper, and others. The history of Switzerland's oldest zoo is compressed, unfortunately, into a four-page (including photographs) chronology. But the book does have an index.

Basel Zoo, since its inception, has been a joint-stock corporation, on land leased from the city. For most of its history, Zürich Zoo has been a cooperative, but in 1999 it too was transformed into a share-holding company. One associates shares and corporations with an effort to make money at the bourse, but with the exception of Disney and Busch (the owner of Busch Gardens, Florida, and the Sea World chain) no names are actually equated with really making money on zoos. Yet in German-speaking countries in Europe, and in some others as well, most zoos established from the mid-1800s into the early 20th century were originally organized as corporations, selling shares to finance their enterprise. In the United States, Cincinnati and Columbus Zoos, both in Ohio, for example, were originally share-holding companies. Today, only four zoos in Germany (Berlin, Cologne, Duisburg, Munich) still are, but with the exception of Berlin the host municipality is the majority shareholder. In Zürich, the city and canton (province) each hold 12.5% of Zoo Zürich AG's stock. No dividends are ever paid nowadays; zoos are corporations only in order to take advantage of corporate laws, and keep them free from government bureaucracy. Zoo shares are a luxury, usually passed down from one generation to the next. If Berlin Zoo stock ever does get on the market, it is at a very high premium, currently about DM 14,000 per share. One would have to buy an annual pass, which offers roughly the same privileges, for a hundred years to match that sum.

The tradition of trading in zoo shares has created, however, a new field of collectables: antique zoo stocks and bonds. Most people now buying shares never see their stock – they're just in some bank's computer somewhere. But in the past, stocks and bonds were printed as certificates, and zoo shares, usually decorated with lots of animals, were among the most attractive. Collecting antique shares can be a luxury too: a Standard Oil certificate dated 1870 realized DM 108,000 (c. £35,000 or US$50,000) at an auction in Düsseldorf three years ago; a Hamburg-America Line share from 1878 estimated at DM 6,500 fetched DM 28,000 at auction last year. Zoo shares, apparently, have yet to reach such heights, but a Basel Zoo certificate issued in 1872 is currently reckoned to be worth DM 12,000, while a Cincinnati Zoo share issued at a nominal value of $50 in 1875, nicely engraved with a lion, a leopard, giraffes and an alligator, is estimated at $9,000.

Collectors of antique zoo shares now have their bible: Zoologische Gärten als Kapitalgesellschaften. It has no English-language subtitle, which would read something like `Zoological Gardens as Share-holding Companies', but in fact the book is bilingual, German and English. Fifty zoos and aquaria worldwide that at one time or another in their history issued shares or bonds are represented in this finely bound and printed book, attractively illustrated with reproductions of share certificates. For every institution, the date of issue, nominal value, type of stock or bond, volume, estimated number still in circulation and estimated current value of each new set of shares is given, and where known, the name of the designer and printer as well. Each entry begins with a brief history of the zoo or aquarium and, as many of the institutions are now long gone, these provide one of the few introductions – in German at least – to some very obscure menageries. The English-language translations are occasionally slightly abridged, especially the general historical introduction, but that is perhaps just as well. English readers are thus spared the apparently inextirpable fairy-tale of Marco Polo in the late 13th century visiting a menagerie or game park in Beijing identical to the one established by a Zhou dynasty king two millennia earlier near what is now Xi'an. I spotted two or three other, minor errors, but on the whole the text is reliable. The book is not meant as a history of zoos, of course, but as a handbook for the collector of antique zoo shares. Not being one myself, I may be missing something, but as a starter I could not hope for a better book. Considering the fortunes recently burnt on the Nasdaq and Nemax exchanges, even current zoo stock might not be a bad investment. The Zürich Zoo shares, originally issued in September 1999 at a face value of SFr. 50.00, are already worth about SFr. 12,000 each. That certainly beats Amazon and!

Herman Reichenbach

PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSIS OF MORPHOLOGICAL DATA edited by John J. Wiens. Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000. x + 220 pp., paperback. ISBN 1–56098–816–9. £17.95 or $26.95.

Having worked for more than a dozen years in a museum, I am only too well aware of the increasing demand for samples by molecular biologists. However, there has also been a resurgence of interest in the measuring of and scoring characters from skulls and other bones for morphological analyses, as realisation dawns that molecular methods are not the panacea once thought. Long gone are the days of just taking a few measurements and hoping to notice some fascinating and hitherto unnoticed relationships between taxa from simple graphs. These days complex calculations by PCs on huge data sets are required to elucidate phylogenetic trees.

Phylogenetic Analysis of Morphological Data provides a current status report on the development of increasingly complex methods for determining phylogenies. It is divided into eight papers or chapters authored by the leading exponents in their fields. Each chapter presents a current status report on a particular field. For example, the first chapter deals with the largely modern myth that there are often conflicts between molecular and morphological data when trying to determine phylogenies. After dealing with the respective advantages of molecular and morphological data, the chapter looks at some apparent conflicts (e.g. the apparently closer relationship between sperm whales and baleen whales as revealed by molecular phylogenies, in contrast with their closer relationship to other toothed whales from morphological studies), which can be explained variously as differences in phylogenetic methods, rooting problems, long-branch attraction, different phylogenetic histories and morphological convergence. Only one confounding study was revealed: the relationship between the gharials (Gavialis) and the false gharials (Tomistoma), morphological studies of which show that similarities are due to convergence, whereas molecular studies differ by suggesting a close phylogenetic relationship.

Another important area dealt with in Phylogenetic Analysis of Morphological Data is the criteria that biologists use to select the characters that are used in phylogenetic studies. A survey of more than 400 papers in 23 journals for the period 1986 to 1997 revealed that few authors stated explicit reasons for choosing and rejecting specific morphological characters, and even when they did their reasons for doing so were not soundly based. There is a need for a better justification of which morphological characters are used, in order to improve the rigour of morphological analyses and to allow for better comparison between studies.

Phylogenetic studies often use shape differences between taxa rather than measurements in order discover relationships, but the example of body measurements in piranhas is used to show how these can be used to discriminate between species and then to construct phylogenies. There are also excellent chapters that deal with several other problem areas, including the usefulness of ontogenetic characters, what to do about polymorphic characters within species, the problems caused by and usefulness of morphological analyses of hybrids, and the usefulness of stratigraphic data in testing phylogenies and rooting phylogenetic trees by looking at where characters first appear in the fossil record.

The final chapter deals with the logical problems that are associated with either including or excluding characters. This includes an interesting section that deals with the `morphology versus molecules' debate, which has mostly assumed that molecular data are more useful and objective than morphological data and so can be used to test the validity of morphological phylogenies. However, as the author writes `one rarely, if ever hears the argument that phylogenies based on an ``independent'' morphological data set are needed to analyze the evolution of molecular characters.' Of course, as the first chapter states, we should be using both morphological and molecular data to derive the best phylogenies, although we will need to have read Phylogenetic Analysis of Morphological Data to make sure that we have been explicit and logical in choosing the right characters for our research.

Although not necessarily of immediate interest to the zoo world, this excellent book contains much useful background information that will help us all understand why the classification and phylogenies of animals seem to keep on changing endlessly. Hopefully, it will also prevent us slavishly believing that molecules are best!

Dr Andrew Kitchener,

Department of Zoology,

Royal Museum of Scotland

ON THE MOVE: HOW AND WHY ANIMALS TRAVEL IN GROUPS edited by Sue Boinski and Paul A. Garber. University of Chicago Press, 2000. xii + 812 pp. ISBN 0–226–06339–9 (cloth) or 0–226–06340–2 (paper). £66.50 or $95.00 (cloth); £24.50 or $35.00 (paper).

In a nutshell, On the Move tries to answer questions about why and how animals travel together in groups, why they travel in particular directions and for what purposes. The answers come in a massive volume, which seems exhaustive in its treatment of these questions, but which often leaves us with even more questions than definitive answers. At the very least On the Move is a stimulating read, which summarises our current state of knowledge and which will hopefully inspire and direct research for the future. For those interested in the problems of reintroduction or even rehabilitation, On the Move provides much food for thought: Can we assume that captive-bred animals will know what they are doing, when we let them go in the big wide world?

On the Move is divided into five main sections. The first two sections are mostly theoretical and deal with the costs and benefits of travelling in groups, and with questions associated with the cognitive abilities of animals, mostly primates. Among the topics covered in the cost-benefit analyses are the energetic costs of travelling, the effect of food patch size and density on group size, the effects of predators on vigilance, sleeping-site selection and travel routes, the advantages of living in mixed-species groups, and territorial defence in callitrichids. And that is just the first section. The second section deals with the cognitive processes that allow groups, from social insects to primates, to cope with the many ecological and social problems that affect the organisation of social groups and finding resources for them. For example, one chapter takes a look again at the differences in brain size between folivorous howler monkeys (small brains) and frugivorous spider monkeys (large brains). The argument goes that spider monkeys need bigger brains and greater cognitive abilities to locate patchily-distributed fruit trees, compared with howler monkeys who can grab a few leaves from any tree. By analysing specific brain structures, the authors conclude that there has been selection for those areas of the brain that deal with the visual mechanism; high visual acuity and well-developed colour vision are needed to spot colourful but small fruits in the forest, and this is probably at least partly responsible for the spider monkeys' greater amount of grey matter.

The middle section, travel decisions, examines how primate groups are apparently able to find their way around tropical forests. In particular it looks at whether they are using route-based maps (e.g. turn left at the traffic lights and right at the post office) or coordinate maps, and also at the rules governing foraging. The most fascinating chapter in this section deals with the ability of reintroduced golden lion tamarins to find their way back to their artificial nest boxes. These newcomers to the forest lack the confidence to leap across gaps in the forest, unlike their wild cousins, and therefore they often become a prey item as they scurry across the forest floor to get to fruiting trees just out of their grasp. Reintroduced tamarins were moved to locations away from their artificial nest boxes and were shown to be able to travel immediately back to where they had come from, whether they could see where they had come from or not. However, we still do not know how they do it.

The penultimate section looks at how social processes influence the travel decisions made by primates. There are in-depth reviews of the role of vocalisations in group movements in a wide range of primate species, the still relatively unknown grouping and movement patterns of lemurs, and the remarkably detailed studies of baboon groups. The last section takes a broader look at group movement in other animals, including mixed-species flocks of forest birds, whales and dolphins, gregarious carnivores, early hominids and the nomadic Turkana people of northern Kenya.

There is just so much fascinating information about the hows and whys of travelling in groups that it is really hard to do a book of this depth and complexity the justice it deserves in such a short review. I will certainly be returning to it for a longer read in the near future.

Dr Andrew Kitchener,

Department of Zoology,

Royal Museum of Scotland

RHINO: AT THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION by Anna Merz. Longhorn Publishers (P.O. Box 124, North Riding 2162, South Africa), 3rd edition, 1999. 233 pp., paperback. ISBN 0–620–24640–5. Distributed in Europe by Natural History Book Services, 2–3 Wills Road, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5XN, U.K., price £15.00

`I had some money and decided that I would use it to try to help save this animal.'

This book tells the story of a woman's efforts to establish a reserve for the rhinoceroses of Africa. We Europeans, we animal lovers, we conservationists, we zoo enthusiasts, we armchair travellers – we are used to books about brave schemes in Africa, about personal encounters with all kinds of African wildlife, about the exciting lives and colourful friends of the author-heroes. We have been reading such books, with only changes of emphasis, for a couple of hundred years now. Once they were mainly about hunting, now they are about saving. The vast category of Books by Europeans about Africa contains classics of conservation, works of (upper-case) Literature, books of amazing egomania, works of equally amazing humility and insight. Written from the vast African landscape, the more recent of African animal books sometimes employ a somewhat supercilious tone about zoos. They sell copies and often make it onto television.

Where does this one slot in? There were the big attractive mammals awaiting a saviour. There were all the colourful friends referred to only by their first names. There were the baddie poachers. There were the fascinating anecdotes. Another expatriate wife telling her story?

After twenty years in Ghana, Anna Merz and her husband arrived in Kenya. She had been appalled at the rapid disappearance of the wild animals during her stay in Ghana. She had been heavily involved in various wildlife protection schemes, mostly founded on her own initiatives. She had had her hands dirty many times. She is also a speaker of unvarnished truths. How do you kill a leopard in Ghana so that its skin remains undamaged? Already the author is appearing as no dilettante.

`But when I spoke to the village chiefs I always heard the same story: ten or twelve years earlier there had been many animals and plenty of bush meat, but now the animals had ``travelled''. ``Where?'' I used to ask. The answers varied: across the Volta River, across those hills, into Togo, into Upper Volta. Anywhere but here. However, the true answer was that the wild animals had all been trapped, snared or shot and their ``travels'' had been in lorries to the nearest big market town.'

In Kenya there seemed to be a lot more animals, but she was not easily deceived. The rhinos of East Africa were being killed just as ruthlessly as the creatures of Ghana – perhaps even more so. But when the rhinos were killed their bodies were simply left for the scavengers, or to rot. Only the horns disappeared. She did not want to re-live the depredation of Ghana all over again. She decided to do something positive about the rhinos.

As a non-Kenyan she was allowed to buy only ten acres (four hectares) of land. If she was to establish a rhino reserve she would need thousands of acres. She found a way. She used her money – it must have been a fair amount – to establish a reserve, to pay for its buildings, its fences, its staff, its equipment, animal transportation, veterinary services and all the rest. So the armchair traveller and adventurer has a wonderful heroine here. She stopped in her tracks and made a decision to try to save the world. The author would not approve of my apparent exaggeration here, but what else was she doing? Anna Merz, however, was not just in a book; she is a real person. The decision was an actual moment in a human life, the decision was business-like, risky in financial terms and possibly even in terms of human life. The money was spent unstintingly; there was no room for compromises or short cuts.

Some of the animals brought to the reserve were remaining single specimens of whole rhino populations which had been massacred by the `shifta', the organised gangs of poachers armed with modern machine guns. Such isolated animals would never have found a mate. Some seemed positively traumatised by the sudden disappearance of the rest of their group.

The Ngare Sergoi Sanctuary – that was the name it had first – was not a scientific experiment. There were no imminent Ph.D.s, no research grants, no coming home if it all went wrong. Its purpose was `simply to try to keep some rhinos safe so that they could breed'. Most of the animals were black rhinos, but after a time a white male arrived, and three females of his species eventually followed.

The book is full of potential clichés which all turn out to be moving experiences for the reader and significant learning, even life-changing, experiences for the author. One such is her hand-raising of a baby black rhino through to adulthood. Young rhinos stay with their mother for years before becoming independent. They have a lot to learn. Samia, the one raised by Anna Merz, stayed the requisite number of years with Anna. Samia never became a pet. Yes, a rhino could become a pet, in the sense that it became totally dependent on humans for its needs and motivation. Samia retained a relationship with Anna, but went on to live and breed as a wild animal.

Anna Merz tells us that the only thing she knew about rhinos was that she felt the need to do something to save some. She did, however, take the trouble to study in detail the rhinos in an Asian sanctuary, before embarking on her own project. In the course of this story she learned a lot. She is not only a determined woman, and a perceptive and intelligent woman, but a remarkably sensitive one, too. She makes observations about rhino diet which crash straight across conventional preconceived notions of what rhinos are supposed to eat. She provides some eye-opening examples of rhino behaviour which can only imply an animal of notable intelligence, but an intelligence of a different order to human intelligence, which has caused it to be labelled as stupidity. She showed a most noteworthy sensitivity to the sounds made by rhinos; the different vocal noises and the different kinds of breathing (compare the sigh in humans). She probably made more advances in this area than any previous European zoologist or zoo keeper, possibly any author anywhere. Yet she expressed her regret at not being able to interpret all the messages that she knew certain rhinos were trying to communicate to her. On occasions they seemed to be bringing back narratives of what had recently been happening to them. The rhinos in the reserve coexisted with domestic cattle without problem. But they were always wild animals – the author spends a fair part of the book trying to climb trees to keep out of their way at unexpected meetings. She is not too proud to admit the loss of her false teeth and glasses in such escapades. In fact, there are several references to her poor eyesight – a characteristic she shares with the rhinos.

The author, then, is a person who never disappoints. Her achievements are magnificent, yet there is a thread of genuine humility throughout the book. The project itself was so successful that the whole ranch, of which the rhino sanctuary was at first only a part, was eventually given over to the rhino project. It was then greatly increased again at the suggestion of the Kenyan government. Its name is now the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The development of the sanctuary over several years, with its many setbacks, tragedies and triumphs, is the material of the book. The many stories, and the store of information about rhinos at which I have hinted here, must be read in the book itself This third edition has an added chapter simply called `And the Years that Followed After', which is self-explanatory.

We can now take the author as a truly remarkable person who achieved a truly remarkable aim, and enriched the world in the process. What of the book as a book? Is Anna Merz also a good writer?

The book's construction is conventional. The story is largely chronological. The `information' chapters deal with rhino behaviour in predictable categories – feeding, mating and breeding, social behaviour and so on. All, however, is acutely observed and tellingly written. The author is aware that she is breaking down certain preconceived notions about rhinos. She never resorts to what others have said. Although she obviously made great, and successful, efforts to educate herself about rhinos, the book makes no claim to be a scholarly work. It is a personal contribution to rhino knowledge. It is more than a rhino handbook. It is more than an autobiography. Like ecology itself, it is an interweaving of interdependent threads, each complementing the others. Honesty, humility, knowledge, observation, human frailty, dedication, rhino revelations and many more, are all in the recipe, generally in the correct proportions.

One long chapter is devoted to her hand-raising of Samia. Another makes classic Africa armchair reading. In this chapter, `Life in the Sanctuary', are all the anecdotes and observations about Africa's glorious animal life – lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, buffalo, giraffe, eland, waterbuck, bees, scorpions, kudu, baboons, wart hogs, porcupines, and a zorilla – not to mention the author's own horses and dogs, and her husband's piano playing. Anna had several uncomfortably close encounters with leopards, but these are never over-dramatised in the text. She manages to open most chapters with a ringing sentence, It was the opening sentence of chapter one which first put me on my guard as to which way the book might go. `How did I ever come to get involved with rhinos?' It might have gone in the direction of `Don't you wish your life was as exciting as mine?' It did not; it took me in another direction, a direction of inspiration and admiration. The book is a book, not just information on pages. It is a book to keep on one's shelves.

In my own idealistic and blind youth, I tended to believe that zoos, conservation organisations of all kinds and similar institutions were all bound together with a common noble aim. It did not take too long for me to discover that rivalries and easy targets were more what the game was about. Zoos have always been easy targets for anyone wanting to shoot everyone else. Noble ideas do sometimes have a tendency to surface after the carnage is over. Reintroduction programmes, for example, involving museums, natural reserves, zoo-bred animals, geneticists etc., are now a conventional idea, even if vastly complicated projects. The exchange of animals between zoos on a non-commercial basis, to improve gene pools, is thankfully now commonplace. Anna Merz has one or two things to say about zoos and zoo people. She is honest and balanced, as one might now expect. She mentions the discussions of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, considering funding a rhino sanctuary at another location. She takes the trouble to mention that the coordinator of the Ngare Sergoi Support Group worked for Columbus Zoo, Ohio, when he first visited the sanctuary. She refers to a zoo-bred white rhino who was actually brought to Kenya to be in a film, and who lived on in her sanctuary because no one seemed to have considered the quarantine regulations involved in his return journey. In her observation about the surprisingly wide range of foods taken by a rhino she feels obliged to say, `I believe that the poor condition, and consequently the poor reproductive rate, of some zoo-kept black rhinos may well be due to their having a much more narrow range of fodder.' If this is true, maybe rhino keepers acted upon it after the book's first and second editions. She does, however, acknowledge her debt to zoo breeding records, but is suspicious of a commercial zoo formula for artificial rhino milk substitute. She maintains that the mental capacities of a young rhino are difficult to develop in a zoo – and gives her reasons. `Yet despite this it is really only among zoo keepers that there is any appreciation of the rhino's capacity to learn.' And then there was the fence, 110 kilometres long and two and a half metres high – paid for by the American Association of Zoo Keepers. My own faith was restored somewhat. Could it be human cooperation that will save the rhino?

There is an appendix about medical data and capture drugs. At the head of each chapter there is a quotation from Loren Eiseley (two spellings of the surname occur, both different from the one I have just used). There is no index. The book is bound as a strong, glossy paperback.

All the profits from this third edition go to rhino conservation projects, and if you are inspired by the whole thing, there is a British address to which you can send donations.

`To kill a rhino is very easy' (Ch. 2). `Often a species becomes extinct because man destroys its habitat, but in some cases all the members of a species are simply killed. This is what is happening to the rhino' (Ch. 10). This book will carve a significant place in the history of rhinoceros literature.

David Barnaby

Other books received

Shortage of space and editorial time have prevented the publication of reviews on a number of recently published books of importance to zoo people. Details of some of these books are given below. Full reviews of them will be printed in I.Z.N. in the near future.

Zoo and Aquarium History: Ancient Animal Collections to Zoological Gardens edited by Vernon N. Kisling, Jr. CRC Press, 2000. xxiv + 415 pp., hardback. ISBN 0–8493–2100–X. $69.9.

Threatened Birds of the World edited by Alison J. Stattersfield, David R. Capper et al. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, 2000. xii + 852 pp., hardback. ISBN 0–946888–39–6. Launch price £59.50 or $95.00.

Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in Human-dominated Landscapes edited by John Seidensticker, Sarah Christie and Peter Jackson. Cambridge University Press, 1999. xx + 383 pp., paperback. ISBN 0–521–64835–1. £20.95.

The Variety of Life by Colin Tudge. Oxford University Press, 2000. xvi + 684 pp., hardback. ISBN 0–19–850311–3. £35.00.

Primate Conservation Biology by Guy Cowlishaw and Robin Dunbar. University of Chicago Press, 2000. xii + 498 pp., hardback or paperback. ISBN 0–226–11636–0 or 0–226–11637–9. $75.00 or £47.50 (hardback); $27.00 or £17.50 (paperback).

Common Names of Mammals of the World by Don E. Wilson and F. Russell Cole. Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000. xvi + 204 pp., paperback. ISBN 1–56098–383–3. $19.95 or £14.95.

Hotspots: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions by Russell A. Mittermeier, Norman Myers and Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier. University of Chicago Press, 2000. 431 pp., hardback. ISBN 9–686–39758–2. $65.00 or £45.50.

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Belfast Zoo, Northern Ireland, U.K.

Our housing for ring-tailed lemurs is quite unusual, and has been developed in recent years to become one of the most interesting and well-known animal encounters in the zoo. While we have the ability to enclose them into their connected heated tree houses and traditional enclosure, for instance during extreme winter weather or when the infants are very young, for the majority of the year they are allowed to range freely around the zoo. They are sensible enough to return to the houses for feeding and sleeping, though on fine summer nights they are just as likely to sleep in tall, ivy-covered trees around the zoo. While they are free to journey and explore almost anywhere, they tend to stay in the area around the farm and lake. Fortunately, excursions into the neighbouring district of Glengormley are rare!

It must be a fantastic life for the lemurs themselves, and an important and effective way for them, as `captive' animals, to learn and develop behaviours that are in many ways similar to those of their wild cousins in Madagascar. Free-ranging species in the zoo, such as the ring-taileds and lion tamarins, could, in time, be ideal candidates for reintroduction. It is also undoubtedly an unusual and memorable part of the zoo trip for visitors to have a close encounter with our free-ranging lemurs. We hope that this unique opportunity engenders an interest in both these and other primates in the zoo, and, just as importantly, in other endangered primates and animals living in the wild.

Zoo Crack No. 50 (Winter 2000)


Bristol Zoo, U.K.

The 2000 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Zoo Animal Welfare Award was won by the zoo's `Seal and Penguin Coasts'. Recreating a naturalistic rocky coastal environment in all its complexity (the exhibit even has its own wave machine), Seal and Penguin Coasts allows the public to see its inhabitants acting naturally. Housing jackass, gentoo and king penguins, Inca terns, eider ducks, great cormorants and South American fur seals, this walk-through exhibit offers a series of different and spectacular viewpoints. Starting from above, the visitor views a rocky coast inhabited by penguins, terns, ducks and cormorants. The trail continues through an information centre, housed in the wreck of a ship, to the seals, who are in a separate enclosure. Visitors then descend below water level, where viewing tunnels allow the underwater grace and agility of the penguins and seals to be seen as they pass overhead.

In the view of the judges, the exhibit meets the needs of the animals and is well designed and flexible, facilitating animal management and husbandry. Important welfare features are the use of salt water, which is better for the animals' eyes than the more commonly used chlorinated water, and the diverse range of substrates and microhabitats. Although the site is small, the design maximises the space available to the animals and offers them both choice and complexity. The judges consider that the exhibit encourages a feeling of respect for the animals, is easy to manage and provides a dramatic improvement in welfare over the previous enclosure.

Abridged from a UFAW press release


Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada

Eight Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) were born last summer to two sets of parents at the zoo. Because of the species' precarious situation and undefined husbandry methods, keepers adopted a `hands-off' approach to ensure optimal breeding. The pups are among a population of fewer than 100 individual marmots left in the wild and in captivity – the Vancouver Island marmot is Canada's most endangered species, and is ranked as one of the world's rarest mammals. It was declared endangered in 1980, but its population has decreased by more than 60 per cent in the last decade due to mortality during hibernation, disease, and habitat encroachment. Intensive captive breeding efforts boosted world population by 10% in the initial year of a recovery program started by the zoo in 1998 in partnership with the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team, the Marmot Recovery Foundation, Toronto Zoo and Mountain View Farms Breeding and Conservation Centre in Langley, British Columbia.

AZA Communiqué (October 2000)


Columbus Zoo, Ohio, U.S.A.

Clyde, a male black rhinoceros, who died at the zoo in December at the age of 49, was the oldest rhino on record. Black rhinos have an average lifespan of 25 years in the wild and 35 to 40 years in captivity. Born in the wild in 1951, Clyde was captured as a baby and taken to Basel Zoo in Switzerland. He came to Columbus in 1954. In recent years, zoo workers took special care of Clyde because of his advanced age. They ground and puréed his food to compensate for his worn teeth, gave him a special mattress and kept him bandaged and medicated because of a pressure sore. He probably weighed 2,400 pounds [1,100 kg], zoo officials estimated.

The zoo still has two black rhinos, Kijito, 7, a male, and a 12-year-old female, Kulinda. Neither is related to Clyde, who never reproduced; however, semen was collected from him before he died and frozen in anticipation of technological advances in reproductive science for rhinos.

Detroit Zoo now lays claim to the oldest living rhino, which is in its mid-40s.

Abridged from Matthew Marx on the Columbus Dispatch website (, 19 December 2000


Dallas World Aquarium, Texas, U.S.A.

The Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) of Colombia and Venezuela is one of the larger crocodilian species; individuals have been known to reach seven metres in length, though today the biggest males rarely exceed five metres. The species was once numerous, but overhunting for its skin, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, resulted in a drastic decline, and it is now one of the most endangered of crocodiles.

Daryl Richardson, proprietor of the privately-owned Dallas World Aquarium, became involved in the animals' plight after he opened the aquarium's new 45,000-square-foot [4,200 m2] exhibit `Orinoco: Secrets of the River'. In 1998 he acquired a domesticated pair of the crocodiles from Venezuela, the only potential breeding pair in the U.S.A. Miranda, the female, is 27 years old, weighs 300 pounds [135 kg] and is about ten feet [3 m] long; Juancho, the male, is about 20 years old, weighs 400 pounds and is about ten-and-a-half feet long [180 kg, 3.2 m]. The first 50 eggs yielded no hatchlings, but Richardson hopes this spring will be different. Any crocodiles born will stay in captivity for two or three years until they can safely be released in Venezuela.

Recently, residents of a Venezuelan village captured a male crocodile 15 feet long and weighing 1,100 pounds [4.5 m, 500 kg]. When Mr Richardson heard of the capture, he arranged for the animal, nicknamed El Munstruo (`The monster'), to be fitted with a transmitter and released. The crocodile's movements will be monitored by satellite and tracked by the aquarium and Venezuelan officials. It is hoped that this project will attract publicity in Venezuela and educate people there about the plight of the species.

Adapted from Laurie Fox, Dallas Morning News website (


Denver Zoo, Colorado, U.S.A.

The story of how the Egyptian plover (Pluvianus aegyptius) picks morsels of food from between the teeth of basking crocodiles dates back to Herodotus, but no scientific studies have ever been able to substantiate this behavior. Nevertheless, these striking birds do have other remarkable behaviors which have only come to light in the last couple of decades.

Denver Zoo has developed a program based on the unique behaviors of the Egyptian plover to become the first zoo in North America to successfully breed these birds. (Krefeld Zoo in Germany achieved the world's first breeding and rearing in 1999 – see I.Z.N. 47:1, p. 63.) Our keeper staff researched the published natural history information of Thomas Howell, a biologist specializing in this species, to gather information that would be pertinent to successful plover reproduction. Among the new discoveries was the principal theme that these birds breed in areas of intense heat with sand temperatures often topping 120° F [50° C]. This is much too hot for normal incubation of eggs. The birds therefore had to develop an interesting method of cooling the eggs down to the proper incubation temperature. It was found that they would soak their ventral feathers in the river and carry water to the nest to cool both the eggs and the surrounding sand. Parents would do this only during the day, with the most frequent trips being made during the hottest part of the day. At night the birds would brood the eggs in the traditional manner.

Denver Zoo acquired our current pair of Egyptian plovers in 1988, but it was not until 1994 that any significant courtship and breeding behavior occurred. An artificial heat source was placed four to five inches [100–125 mm] under the sand just prior to egg laying to simulate natural conditions. This system was difficult to regulate, and had mixed results, with two eggs laid but developing only to mid-term. The following year the birds were left alone, but they continued to be unsuccessful in their hatching efforts. In 1996 we attempted to use an overhead heating tube on a timer to simulate the sun's regular cycle, but as luck would have it, this was the year when Bird World's air conditioning system was replaced. The disturbance prevented our pair from breeding that year.

In 1997 we used the same apparatus as the previous year, but again the eggs dried up although some early development was seen. In 1998 we made modifications, and rather than the parents incubating the eggs, we decided to artificially incubate them, giving the plovers dummy eggs to sit on. To our knowledge this had never been attempted before with this species. In order to provide the optimal incubation environment the humidity needed to be radically increased. Extraordinarily, two of the three eggs were still losing too much weight, and embryo development was not optimal. The last egg apparently had better shell integrity, as it experienced more normal development. After nearly 30 days we had our first hatch. This first downy white chick only weighed around six grams at hatching. Once the chick was dry, checked over and given some fluids, it was returned to the parents, who had been tending the dummy eggs faithfully throughout the incubation period. They immediately covered the chick with sand and began running to the pool and back to the chick to douse the bird with water. These were all normal responses documented in wild plovers by Howell. In the wild the adults will cover chicks entirely with sand to hide them from predators, and wet them down as they do the eggs to prevent overheating. All appeared to be going well, so we were surprised to find the chick dead on the fifth day.

In 1999 we took the additional step of putting up privacy panels at the public viewing window, in hopes that with the adult pair completely undistracted the chicks could thrive and flourish. Three chicks were hatched by artificial incubation during that year. One had a very low hatch weight, so an attempt at hand-rearing was deemed its best chance. This chick died after a few days. The two other chicks were placed back in the exhibit under parental care. Unfortunately, one chick died after the first day and the second lived a heartbreaking 19 days. There was progress, but still the pair was unsuccessful in their breeding experience.

In 2000 it was decided to break up the clutch of eggs, pulling two for artificial incubation and allowing one to remain with the parents. However, prior to the end of the incubation period the pair mysteriously abandoned their eggs. They were now paying attention to a second site away from the heating tube. On checking the area, two new eggs were discovered – the pair had begun laying a second clutch. This turned out to be our good fortune because the first clutch, both naturally incubated and artificially incubated, did not hatch. However, since the new nest was away from the heat source the staff had no choice but to remove both eggs. A third egg was found in the same nest a day later and was also pulled. The birds again dutifully incubated their false eggs, and we artificially hatched one of the three eggs.

This time we let the chick stabilize and dry for a couple of hours and then placed it back with its parents. The birds greeted it with the now familiar burial. After contacting Krefeld Zoo about their success, we added chopped pinkie mice to our usual chick diet, though the parents still preferred feeding waxworms, mealworms and crickets to the chick. By the end of the first day the chick was moving short distances away from the nest site, and by two weeks we could see it developing well beyond the stage of the previous year. The parents aggressively defended it during the 30-day rearing process, using threat displays, feigning injury and covering the chick with sand. By one month the chick had acquired nearly all of the adult plumage with the exception of some remaining brown on the top of its head. The plover chick has continued to thrive and is on public view in the seashore exhibit of Bird World.

Eric Elling, Zookeeper, and John Azuá, Curator of Birds, in The Zoo Review (Fall 2000)


Fort Worth Zoo, Texas, U.S.A.

Herpetarium staff at the zoo recently hatched all 11 of a clutch of Timor python (P. timorensis) eggs. The Timor python is more properly known as the Lesser Sundas python, as the species does not occur naturally on Timor, but rather on the nearby island of Flores and smaller surrounding islands. Because of its small range the species has always been considered somewhat of a rarity, but beginning in the late 1960s specimens were offered for sale and small numbers were established in collections. Until now, only one captive hatch had been recorded in a zoo, when a single egg hatched at Dallas Zoo in the mid-1970s. Three other hatches have been recorded in two private collections, but the 11 eggs recently hatched at Fort Worth nearly doubles the numbers of eggs recorded in one clutch. All 11 eggs hatched to produce healthy neonates, a feat the staff feel is significant. The adult pythons are both ten years old, although the species has been known to lay fertile eggs at five years of age. Unlike previous years, the pair was given extensive amounts of cypress mulch, PVC tunnels and subterranean hide areas that they utilized in addition to making their own burrows. The species has been observed to be one of the most highly-strung and nervous of all of the pythons, though they rarely bite. Environmental enrichment provided the snakes with a more natural and secure environment during the breeding season, and may be responsible for reducing stress that inhibited reproduction in previous years.

AZA Communiqué (January 2001)


Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

The sanctuary has the largest captive-breeding colony of brush-tailed phascogales (Phascogale tapoatafa). Seventeen young have been born so far to four females. The offspring are managed under a studbook, and other institutions and some private people assist with the breeding program by taking our surplus young.

This species is bred annually as the males lose their fertility after 12 months of age. In the wild the males die off after the breeding season, but under the constant care of Sanctuary staff the Healesville males may live to three years of age.

Zoo News Vol. 20, No. 4 (December 2000)


Oklahoma City Zoo, U.S.A.

Bacteria may have played a role in the death of Lily, a baby Atlantic bottled-nosed dolphin at the zoo, last November – but not the same bacteria responsible for the deaths of three others in recent years. Veterinarian Joe Alexander said initial findings from the autopsy show bacteria present in the animal's lungs consistent with other ailments – possibly pneumonia. `We found no evidence of Streptococcus bacteria in any of her organs,' said Alexander. He added that the bacteria that were present, coliform bacteria, are very common, but that it is uncertain whether they were the cause of her death.

Lily was the calf of Sandi, aged 15, one of two adult female dolphins at the zoo. The dolphin shows were suspended in late October after Lily was treated with antibiotics for difficulties similar to the kind she experienced before dying. The zoo's Aquaticus exhibit lost another dolphin, five-year-old Harley, to Streptococcus zooepidemicus bacteria in June 2000. He was not the first dolphin to die of the infection in the exhibit's 14-year history. Sally and Turbo died from the illness in 1998.

Zoo officials closed the exhibit throughout 1999 and spent $212,500 on the most extensive renovations in Aquaticus's history. That work included sandblasting the dolphin pool, smoothing walls, repairing cracks, and replacing filtration and ozone systems. The zoo also hired three water specialists to make sure the dolphins' living environment was contamination-free.

Sandi and Teri, the other adult females, have continued behaving normally. `I don't think this is a water or environmental problem; I just think this is an unfortunate illness that happened with the baby that isn't connected with what went on before,' Alexander said. He acknowledged that Lily's death might prompt some to call for an end to the dolphin exhibit, but said he doesn't support such a decision right now. `The exhibit is definitely good for us, and I think it is good for dolphins as a species. People can identify with endangered wild species better if they see such animals in captivity. If they see the animals, and actually experience them, they are going to get upset when they hear dolphins are being killed in tuna nets.' He admitted, however, that he would feel differently if Aquaticus had lost another adult to the bacteria responsible for the earlier three deaths.

Abridged from Jack Money on The Oklahoman website (


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

The following births and hatchings took place during the period October to December 2000: 2 golden-breasted starling (1 DNS), 2 keel-billed toucan (1 DNS), 2 crocodile skink, 37 Henkel's leaf-tailed gecko, 7 giant leaf-tailed gecko, 8 Gould's monitor.

The following were acquired: 1.0 black-footed cat, 1.0 Amur tiger, 1.0 fennec fox, 15 rockhopper penguin, 1.3 Bali mynah, 1.0 keel-billed toucan, 4.4 pin-tailed parrot finch, 1 eastern cottonmouth, 1 eastern milk snake, 2 black spiny-tailed lizard, 10 humphead, 2 yellow boxfish, 2 orbiculate batfish, 5 orange-shouldered tang, 6 brown bird wrasse, 1 valentine puffer, 23 bluestreak cleaner wrasse, 2 volitans lionfish, 1 purple velvet wrasse, 1 firefish goby, 1 decorated firefish, 25 camelback shrimp, 6 pink tile star, 50 peppermint shrimp, 100 star shell, 100 blue-legged hermit crab, 50 top snail.

The zoo is now home to more than 200 endangered pine barren tree frogs (Hyla andersoni), marking the first time this species has been successfully bred in captivity. The tiny frogs have been on exhibit in the South Carolina Gallery of the Reptile Complex in the zoo's aquarium since the facility opened in 1989. The zoo plans to maintain a heritage population, while other specimens have been sent to Toledo Zoo and the new National Amphibian Conservation Center at Detroit Zoo.

Alan H. Shoemaker, Collection Manager, and AZA Communiqué (January 2001)


Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands

A female Asian elephant, Bangka, was born on 28 November 2000 within the group of four cows. This is the fourth calf born, all without problems and all female, to 30-year-old Irma. Her first calf, Bernhardine, was born in 1984 and was the first Asian elephant to be born in a Dutch zoo. Yasmin was born in 1990 and Indira followed in 1995. Sadly, Indira died at three years of age of food poisoning (from an item illicitly given by a visitor) and the dreaded herpes virus. The father, Alexander, came from Münster Zoo and Bangka is his first offspring conceived at Rotterdam. Rotterdam Zoo personnel coordinate the EEP for Asian elephants, and 2.5 are currently housed at the zoo.

A female Philippine spotted deer (Cervus alfredi), Aparri, was born in September 2000 to four-year-old mother Althea and one-year-old father Chico. The birth was somewhat unexpected as it was not known that males could breed so young. Two unrelated pairs of this deer were formed at the zoo from two sibling pairs received from Berlin Zoo in September 1999 and Mulhouse Zoo in November 1999. Rotterdam works with a consortium of zoos and the Philippine government to breed this rare deer.

While Rotterdam Zoo was virtually a `tiger-factory' in the 1960s and 1970s, breeding has slowed down considerably in recent years in cooperation with the EEP tiger programme. A male Sumatran tiger, Hermes, born at Warsaw Zoo in 1994, arrived in 1996 as a mate to female Pepper. However, Pepper proved to be too old to breed, and died at the age of 20 years and eight months in January 2000, holding the longevity record for female Sumatran tigers in Europe. Meanwhile, as part of the Sumatran tiger EEP, female Musi arrived in 1999 and soon paired with Hermes. A single female cub, Kim, the first tiger to be produced in Rotterdam in ten years, was born in June 2000 and has been well cared for by her mother.

The opening of Phase 1 of the new `Oceanium' has been a great visitor attraction in 2000, and is undoubtedly at least in part responsible for the record-breaking visitor attendance. The visitors begin an exciting water journey at the `Bass Rock' enclosure, where Atlantic puffins, guillemots (murres) and kittiwakes fly about rocky cliffs. The journey continues along dramatic North Sea aquaria and through the 26-metre-long Atlantic Ocean shark tunnel surrounded by a three-million-litre tank holding fishes, sea turtles and several species of sharks. The trip continues into great ocean depths where a whale exhibition and models of mysterious deep-sea inhabitants are found. From there the visitor travels along colourful Caribbean coral reefs and semi-tropical mangrove coast to the warm deserts bordering the Sea of Cortez. The adventure ends on the Californian coast where a kelp forest, sea otters and Californian sea lions are featured. A significant part of Phase 1 of the Oceanium opened on 6 July, just before the school vacation, and additional enclosures are being opened as they are completed.

Catherine E. King, Biologist


St Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, Florida, U.S.A.

As the only institution in the world to display every species of crocodilian, we have a few challenges. Yes, many people are drawn to our zoo because of the crocodiles and alligators, but for many people, once you've seen a few, they all start running together. So we have been going to great lengths to incorporate new ideas in and near our crocodilian exhibits. However, as you can imagine, we are limited to things that crocodilians won't eat. Some simple things include adding themed decorations, adding turtles and even some tortoises to the exhibits, and creating small exhibits in areas adjacent to the crocodilian habitats with birds or small primates that are found in the same geographic region.

Some species of crocodilians are naturally less aggressive to exhibit-mates than others. For example, even though our gharials are over ten feet [3 m] long, they eat specific prey and have never attempted to bother the Malaysian painted terrapins (Callagur borneoensis) that share their enclosure. Our gharial exhibit has a significant amount of land space that is rarely used by the gharials themselves. When the bird and mammal department asked about the possibility of adding mammals to this exhibit, we were not sure what the answer was. Our research found a zoo in Thailand that houses gharials with Asian small-clawed otters, and they said they have never had an incident. Small-clawed otters are not in our collection plan, but Asian muntjac are. Figuring that if a water-loving mammal could live with these large crocodilians, then a small deer should have no problem, we built a night house in the exhibit, and once our muntjac made it through quarantine, we introduced it to the gharial exhibit. The first few minutes we held our breath. The muntjac attempted walking across the top of both gharial pools and tried to jump through several panes of glass before calming down. During one of its attempts to walk on water, the muntjac actually swam directly above two of the gharials, but they showed no interest at all. Today our visitors have one more reason to spend time at the gharial exhibit, and can now see more than `just another crocodile'.

Our second success in 2000 involved not mixing species, but just letting nature take its course. Our facility has a long history with crocodilians, over 100 years now. The zoo has tried to make each exhibit as interesting as possible. So, when our female Siamese crocodile built a nest in the front of her exhibit, we decided to leave it there for our visitors to see. We have bred Siamese crocodiles before, but like all of our other crocodilian eggs, we pulled the eggs and artificially incubated them. The thought is that we have much better control over the egg and hatchling environment then the parent crocodilians do. After all, who knows if the male will eat the hatchlings, or if the temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors will be perfect enough for two months to even bring an egg to its hatch date?

We did pull three eggs from the nest to put in our incubator, just in case. As it turns out, this was unnecessary. On 13 August, as visitors looked on, the female began to dig at the nest and open the eggs. She carefully and methodically picked up each hatchling in her mouth and carried it to the water. The male (whom we were so concerned about) opened several eggs very gently. He never made an aggressive move toward the hatchlings, and made the perfect `island' for the babies in the middle of the pool who were tired of swimming. Now, an exhibit that was barely noticed by our visitors has an entire family unit of crocodilians in it. Crowds of visitors want to see mom, dad, and the babies. The parents can often be seen on sunny afternoons covered in hatchling crocodiles, as the youngsters bask on their heads, backs, and tails.

As a side note, the eggs that we put in the incubator did hatch, several days after the ones in the exhibit. We have since been able to introduce these three babies to the exhibit, and they have been accepted by the parents.

John Brueggen in AZA Communiqué (December 2000)


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

For the first time in North American breeding history, St Louis Zoo has used artificial insemination to produce cracid chicks. The hatching of common piping guans (Pipile cumanensis) occurred on 13 August and 19 October 2000 as part of a long-term research project at the zoo. The chicks were the result of artificial insemination with frozen/thawed semen to evaluate the success of the semen extender and cryopreservation studies. The goal of the project is to develop a technique for freezing guan semen, which would serve as a model for endangered cracids. The ability to store guan and curassow semen long-term would allow for future genetic exchange between captive and wild populations.

AZA Communiqué (January 2001)


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

The Zoological Society has constructed its new Seed Bank at the park using straw bales. The services of an expert builder and architect were employed to help create the real `smart house' of the future – not some computer-controlled, high-tech contraption, but a solid structure that naturally stays cool in summer and warm in winter, is easy and affordable to build, and is made from renewable resources. As explained by Tom Hanscom, the Society's conservation outreach specialist, `We thought if we were going to build a structure that would represent the Society's conservation commitment, it would be a good idea to build something that was eco-friendly, that represented green construction.'

But before we extol the virtues of straw bale building any further, let's ask the crucial question: Why a seed bank? Of 7,260 species of vascular plants in California, 22 per cent are considered rare or endangered. San Diego is a critical area for plant conservation, and the area's coastal sage scrub is the most critically endangered habitat in the continental U.S. The seed bank will preserve the most endangered plant species in southern California for revegetation projects and scientific study.

The 1,800-acre [730 ha] Wild Animal Park, more than half of which has been set aside as protected native species habitat, is technically located inside the city, so the seed bank was the first permitted straw bale structure in San Diego. The practice of building with bales is not new: it originated in the Sandhill region of Nebraska more than 100 years ago, with several structures from that period still standing. It's been popular throughout the southwest for the last 20 years or so, and the process isn't difficult to learn. Straw bales are surprisingly fire resistant, but the real threat is from excess moisture. You must guard against water damage by building big overhangs on the sides of the building and raising your structure up off the ground. Technically a waste product, straw bales are cheap. The seed bank's 240 bales, acquired from a Ramona horse breeder, cost under $900, including delivery. And then there's the cooling quotient. The 880-square-foot [80 m2] building has a traditional frame and foundation with straw bale infill, plastered with stucco to form thick walls that will maintain a constant temperature for the fragile seeds within.

The seed bank is divided into three separate rooms, including an office. That may seem odd, since the building is only to hold seeds, but a surprising amount of administration is needed in order to acquire and maintain the proper permits for gathering seeds from endangered plants. There's also a wet lab, with a giant blow-dryer-like apparatus that separates the chaff from the seed. The largest room is the dry lab, where seeds will be dehydrated with calcium sulfate in aquarium-style containers for up to two weeks, then frozen in refrigeration units. Although some seeds (such as acorns) do not take well to freezing and storage, plenty more can be preserved for decades without spoilage. The main goal is to hold the most threatened species, such as the Del Mar sand aster, in protective custody for replanting, especially in case these species are ever wiped out entirely in the wild.

Abridged from Simone Butler in Zoonooz Vol. 74, No. 1 (January 2001)


Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, Germany

On 21 December 2000 a house for African primates was opened as the last part of the section for African fauna. (The enclosures and buildings for giraffes, zebras, African wild asses, African buffaloes and desert antelopes had already been completed.) The new primate house has an area of 1,600 m2, 700 m2 of which is occupied by the visitors' hall. Five species are housed there: gelada baboons, red-crowned mangabeys, and, as newcomers to the park, De Brazza's monkeys from Lodz Zoo (Poland), mona guenons from Tierpark Gettorf, and patas monkeys from Duisburg Zoo. Each species has four enclosures of 20 m2 each, at least two of which are furnished with a pane of glass on the visitors' side. The outdoor enclosures have natural substrates and climbing trees. They will be opened at Easter 2001.

Dr Bernhard Blaszkiewitz