International Zoo News
Vol. 48/2 (No. 307) March 2001




Hornbills in Zoos – a Review Harro Strehlow

Letters to the Editor

Book Reviews



Annual Reports

International Zoo News

Recent Articles

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The threat to nature and the responsibility of zoological gardens for the preservation of biodiversity

At the beginning of the year 2000, I heard a report from the chairman of a great German foundation dealing with the development of communication technologies. With understandable enthusiasm he depicted the breath-taking rapidity in the development of `bits and bytes', and the technological and communication opportunities this progress offers for the future. Approximately 200 representatives of public life in the city of Münster were present. I suppose I was one of the few persons present to whom these descriptions of the future appeared like a horrible vision, and who shivered at the thought that the rapidity of the development of communication technologies might be in proportion to the destruction of the diversity of living species on earth. I assume that nobody else in the auditorium considered that during the 30 minutes of this speech probably between 500 and 1,000 hectares of tropical rain forest had irretrievably disappeared from our planet.

I am not opposed to progress. But despite the enthusiasm for new technologies, at the same time I also have in mind the risks that technological progress may imply for nature. Or, in other words, I try to compensate for the destruction of nature by active engagement as a zoo professional, not just for the sake of a good conscience but in the hope that nature and species diversity have a chance in the face of the urgent pressure of humanity to break technological records.

In our daily work, we as zoo professionals are faced with a disaster which is not one of the inevitable natural catastrophes such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, but is man-made. I am thinking of the destruction of habitats for plants and animals and the extermination of species diversity, biological diversity. This is the progenitress of natural catastrophes such as floods, periods of drought or avalanches.

Man's interference with ecological coherence means an assault on species diversity which we have carried on for decades without arousing any public alarm worth mentioning, but with increasing efficiency. This assault on nature always operates globally and is just as threatening as any military conflict. The enormous interference of man, the destruction of entire habitats, are theatres of war which are of little interest to the public and the media.

But what happens in these theatres of war? Is this war against nature really threatening, or is the danger associated with it just an exaggeration by `ecological crack-brains' who dream of an unattainable paradise quite out of touch with reality? Two comments by acknowledged ecological scientists describe the tragic nature of these events. Edward Wilson, sociobiologist and `the authority in the dispute over biodiversity', says: `The current destruction of the earth's biological diversity is humanity's most disastrous mistake. We have to prepare ourselves for a very uncomfortable 21st century. An era of loneliness is in store for us.' John Tuxill, co-author of the report State of the World 1999, an annual bulletin of the Washington Worldwatch Institute on global development, comments in a similar way: `We are in the midst of a phase of mass extinction. Since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, there has been nothing comparable to this.'

At this point, I do not want to go into detail on numbers and facts that could impressively prove the scenario of the eradication of species and the destruction of entire habitats. Plenty of this can be looked up in the relevant literature. I am concerned about the fact that intelligent persons push the problem of species extinction to one side or even prefer to ignore it. And this applies to an overwhelming majority of progress-oriented mankind.

One could maintain that there are crowds of conservationists forming a `peace movement', as well as worldwide activities for the preservation of nature. But are these efforts of many committed and mostly privately organised persons actually sufficient in the face of the approaching catastrophe? When we realize that forest cover in Asia has decreased to 25 per cent of its original level, in some regions even to 10 per cent or less, and that this decline continues undiminished, when we consider that approximately ten square kilometres of tropical forests are still destroyed irretrievably every hour, it becomes evident that the present `peace movement' is much too weak to put an early and definitive end to this apocalypse. Key words like `climatic change' and `ozone depletion' are indeed ubiquitous, but who really listens when the topic is the destruction of grasslands or coral reefs with their irreplaceable species diversity? Are we aware that the natural rate of extinction during evolution has changed from one to ten animal and plant species annually to a rate of eradication of – at the lowest estimate – at least 1,000 species each year? The reason for this is immense and wasteful exploitation – human beings now consume approximately 40 per cent of all the earth's annual biological production. A new phenomenon – the `empty forest' – has recently begun to be reported. And unfortunately it is not over-pessimistic to predict that without a rapid and radical change of attitude, the last tropical forest tree will fall by 2045 at the latest.

How many people in Europe anticipate that besides social isolation, we may be heading for a period of physical cold, when the recognised problem of global warming leads – as many reliable scientists fear – to the secondary catastrophe of the disruption of the Gulf Stream? Even though this scenario would not be global, and is therefore at best only a secondary consideration to people who think and act but lack long-term vision, it ought to shock us and prompt us to act.

The other day, I read in a newspaper article that `the German Federal Government anxiously points to the alarming decline of tropical rain forests and the associated reduction of species diversity.' This appropriate comment may offer some hope for the future. But can this news item really help to end the war of mankind against nature? It might, indeed, if the problem began to be addressed more consistently than before in the media, and if it got adequate space – alongside the reports about motor-shows, stock exchange trends or Parisian fashions. Certainly the fear is that the problems will continue to be treated only casually, while year after year irretrievable time will be lost.

It is high time for politicians to make use of the available opportunities to produce a `peace movement' that may preserve the future of our planet and its unique species diversity in the long term. And this is exactly the point where our opportunity and our personal responsibility begin. We must urge the politicians we have elected (or not elected) to think globally and act locally, as `Agenda 21' puts it, and let words be followed by deeds. After all, future generations will ask why millions of competent people evaded their responsibility to prevent, by all means in their power, a species extinction comparable to that which followed the impact of a meteorite 65 million years ago.

However, the famous anthropologist Richard Leakey sees a gleam of hope. He considers that the `sixth extinction' (the sixth great species eradication during the last 600 million years) may not be an inevitable fate. Humanity, the cause of the present biodiversity crisis, could also be part of the solution. But if so, we have to hurry – for `extinct' means gone forever!

At the last world conference of zoo directors in Pretoria, William Conway, the internationally respected president of the New York Zoological Society and director of its Conservation Park, the renamed zoo of that city, called for the redesign of zoos `as a hedge against biotic impoverishment; a time machine buying continuance for faltering wildlife populations; . . . a promoter of environmental literacy and a recruiting center for conservationists.'

A number of zoological gardens in Germany and other countries have realized the growing consequences of this new form of species conservation. In this connection we have to take responsibility not only for the conservation of endangered species via breeding programmes in zoos, i.e. ex situ, but also to step out beyond our fences and become active where our charges actually live, in situ, in their original habitats. This is also a clear demand of the World Zoo Conservation Strategy of the World Zoo Organisation (now the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums), the umbrella organisation for approximately 150 scientifically managed zoos around the world. But still responsible individuals hide behind arguments such as: `We do not have money for this,' or `We cannot spare the staff time for such large-scale work.' Both arguments rest on a weak foundation, since on the one hand it is a matter of will whether we win the support of our zoos' sympathisers among the general public, and on the other hand there are possibilities of using the resources of individual zoos for the common strategy.

I will give a short example of what I mean. In 1998, a handful of zoo professionals and conservationists in Germany elaborated the idea of a Stiftung Artenschutz (`foundation for species conservation') created by the chairman of the Zoological Society for Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP), Mr Roland Wirth in Munich. The aim of this partnership for species conservation is to amalgamate and coordinate the in situ conservation activities of single zoos to achieve higher efficiency and make financial support more attractive for sponsors. A sponsor or patron of a project will be more willing to offer bigger contributions for the protection of an endangered species if, for example, this enables him to advertise his products or his company in several zoos with some ten million visitors annually, instead of a single zoo with 800,000 visitors. Apart from this publicity in the zoos, he will also be granted associated appearances in the printed and electronic media of each participating zoo. In this way, thanks to the high reputation of zoos among the public, good prestige advertising is given to these sponsors.

For conservation projects supported by the foundation, species have been chosen for which at present no lobby exists, and which, hardly noticed by the public, are at immediate risk of extinction, such as the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey in Vietnam, the Visayan warty pig of the Philippines or the riverine rabbit in South Africa. The list of selected species represents a significant proportion of the highest conservation priorities of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

At the beginning of the year 2001, 25 zoological gardens of the German-speaking region, and several NGOs as well as publishers, have registered as partners of the foundation. Thus, just at the beginning of the new millennium, we hope to respond to the call by many people for this century to become the century of biodiversity conservation. Thus, too, zoos elsewhere in Europe may make a further important contribution to the realisation of the demands of the World Zoo Conservation Strategy.

H. Jörg Adler,

Münster Zoo,


[This article was reviewed and translated by Martina Raffel.]

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Hornbills form a relatively small order of birds with just 54 species. They live in many different environments, ranging from tropical rain forests to savannahs and the dry mountains bordering the Namib desert. They seem to be outstanding subjects for use in biological and evolutionary education, and are at the same time ambassadors of a vanishing world. They are often kept because of their attractive appearance, their size and their interesting behaviour and loud calls. But in spite of this, very few zoos use this attraction for environmental or biological education and the promotion of nature conservation.

Hornbills have been kept in zoos for more than 250 years. In about 1700 a rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) was living in the Menagerie van Blauwe Jan in Amsterdam (Pieters and Bruyns, 1988). Fitzinger (1853) mentions an Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus) living in the Belvedere Menagerie (Vienna) from 1730 till 1732. Maybe the links between European countries and Africa and Asia brought hornbills into European menageries even earlier than this, but other data are difficult to obtain. I am also unable to say anything about hornbills being kept in Asia or in Arab countries during these times.

The Zoological Society of London got its first hornbill (Buceros albirostris = Anthracoceros albirostris) on 31 March 1863 (Sclater, 1879). This seems to have been the first hornbill in any zoo; it was followed by another 15 species of hornbill in London by 1877. In Germany, Berlin Zoo kept Abyssinian hornbills for the first time in 1868. It is possible that these were the first hornbills kept in Germany.

From the 1870s onwards, the import of hornbills grew. An increasing number of zoos showed more and more species. But as far as is known, the first successful breeding of hornbills took place in 1926 in two zoos, Berlin and Frankfurt am Main, with the red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus). Also at Berlin Zoo in the same year a yellow-billed hornbill (T. flavirostris, but see below, p. 87) laid two eggs (Neunzig, 1926a, 1926b, 1928, 1930).

Despite other attempts, the serious breeding of hornbill species only started after World War II, and by the turn of the millennium half of the species had been bred in captivity. This could be a success story, but there are nevertheless many problems still unsolved in hornbill taxonomy and management. This paper will be a review on the breeding of hornbills and on the problems still to be solved.

I follow the taxonomy of Kemp (1995) as this seems to be the most advanced.

Knowledge about and research into hornbill biology

Hornbills have aroused the attention of travellers and researchers for a long time. Their unique breeding behaviour, with the sealing in of the female, is of special interest. So the number of papers on hornbills is large. A bibliography which was distributed at the International Hornbill Workshop at Malaga in 1997 contains more than a thousand references – and since then more papers have been published. The most up-to-date comprehensive survey of our knowledge of hornbills is given by Kemp (1995).

When one looks at the huge number of papers on hornbills, one would assume that this small group is the best known of all bird orders. But if you look at the contents of the existing literature you will understand that there are more questions on hornbills left open than answered. These questions relate to all aspects of the birds' lives, from taxonomy through physiology and nutrition to behaviour and breeding biology.

The reasons are obvious. Despite their size, many hornbill species live a secretive life in rain forests or other remote areas. Photos of the Visayan wrinkled hornbill (Aceros waldeni) and Sulu hornbill (Anthracoceros montani) have been published for the first time during the last few years. Only a few long-term studies on hornbills exist. Mention must be made of the work of Alan Kemp in Africa, Pilai Poonswad in Thailand, and recently Eberhard Curio in the Philippines. Each of these three researchers has collected a lot of information on many aspects of hornbill life.

The difficulties of these studies are numerous. Just to give an example. Hornbills breed in nest-holes often between five and twenty or more metres above the ground. Just to measure the empty nest cavity, you have to climb up the tree in the wet hot air of the tropical rain forest. If the hole is occupied and the female sealed in, it is nearly impossible to get any information about the inside of the nest. Even with species living in dry savannahs, it is difficult to get information about their life-cycle. Considering these difficulties, it is understandable that most hornbill papers are on taxonomy and geographical distribution.

Hornbills therefore seem to be excellent choices for studies in captivity. But even here difficulties exist, which make research into their breeding biology very difficult. The breeding cycle is simple. First, the female is sealed in. The different species use different materials for sealing, the most common being fruits, woodchips and excrement. Depending on the species, the sealing is done by either both partners or the female alone. The part played by the respective genders in sealing is often not described, or only in such simple terms that it is useless for scientific or practical purposes. Even in papers which give the time when the female is sealed in, detailed information is often not provided. There are really at least two times to be given. The first is the day when the female becomes unable to leave the nest-hole through the partially-closed opening. This time is difficult to estimate, and only all-day observation can confirm that the female does not leave the hole. The other time is the final sealing, when the wall is finished and just a small slit is left open. Even this point is difficult to determine. In the larger species like Aceros or Buceros the females sometimes breed without sealing the opening to a small slit.

As far as we know, the female does not lay her eggs before the opening is sealed so far that she cannot emerge and seems to be safe. But even when the wall is finished, the female can delay egg-laying for some time. Only if you can look inside the nest is it possible to give the exact dates of laying and hatching. Otherwise you only can assume hatching has taken place by paying attention to the behaviour of the male, or from the first chirping of chicks. Easier to observe are the leaving of the nest by the female and the young.

To get appropriate observations from inside the nest, it is best to use a camera. Root and Root (1969) developed this idea and worked with a glass panel to take pictures of a free-living red-billed hornbill pair. In 1974 – possibly for the first time in any zoo – Hutchins (1976) installed a video-camera and infra-red light for the study of a breeding pair of Asian pied hornbills (Anthracoceros a. albirostris) at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. In 1977, Rostock Zoo used an infra-red camera for observations of their breeding pair of great (Indian) hornbills (Buceros bicornis) (Fricke, 1980; Nehls, 1979). Unfortunately, the technology at Rostock did not allow for recording anything; so of these observations, only the data of monitor-observation and photos exist (Nehls, 2000). Lieras (1983) used a video-camera at San Diego Wild Animal Park for studying Luzon tarictic hornbills (Penelopides manillae). Further use of this technology at the Wild Animal Park is not published. During recent years in Europe, some collections have used video technology in collaboration with universities. At Berlin Zoo, a pair of trumpeter hornbills (Ceratogymna bucinator) was monitored, and at Tierpark Gettorf, Karen Hammerich studied a pair of wreathed hornbills (Aceros undulatus) in 1998. At Berlin time-lapse was used, and at Gettorf real-time recording. The latter is more time-consuming but much more appropriate for analysis. Even at the Raritätenzoo at Ebbs, initial experiments with video-recording have started. As opposed to many other methods, the birds seem to be undisturbed. Nevertheless there is a danger that the lenses will be destroyed after discovery by the female. This can be avoided by using an acrylic glass panel; but sometimes the female seals the acrylic glass so that any observation is impossible.

Another part of the basic data on hornbills is their longevity. Few data have been published. A paper on the longevity of hornbills should have been published in the 1990s, but to my knowledge it still awaits publication. The longevity data given by Kemp are insufficient. Some species live much longer than he states, and in others longevity is known but not published yet. Many more changes will take place in longevity statistics during the next few years, thanks to studbooks and better collection of data.

Though hornbills form a small order, taxonomic problems still exist, even at the level of species. Tarictic hornbills (Penelopides spp.) cause the main problem today. The number of species and subspecies and their description is still unresolved. In particular, the species Penelopides panini with its subspecies is divided into different species with their respective subspecies. I will discuss details of the problems this poses for zoos in the species-by-species section. One problem has been solved. The pied hornbills of the Anthracoceros group are now divided into two species, the Indian pied hornbill (A. coronatus) and the oriental pied hornbill (A. albirostris). The latter has two subspecies whose description in Kemp (1995) is not sufficient. Tonge (1997) published an easy-to-use key to the subspecies in the first European studbook for Asian pied and black hornbills. But despite the fact that Frith and Frith published the revision of the pied hornbills in 1983 and Tonge the European studbook in 1997, zoos often use the outdated scientific name A. malabaricus for their Asian pied hornbills or designate their A. albirostris under the wrong name A. coronatus. Of course, since in the past both were regarded as a single species, it is difficult to assign the earlier breeding records to their respective species. Another problem is the new division of the yellow-billed hornbill into the two species Tockus flavirostris and T. leucomelas. Yet another difficulty has been the neglect of the subspecies, especially in red-billed hornbills (Tockus erythrorhynchus). Most zoos do not know which subspecies they keep and sometimes breed, and it can be assumed that lots of hybrids exist in zoos. The number and descriptions of the different subspecies are not clear even today.

Stephan Hübner at the University of Frankfurt am Main has initiated a very interesting step towards a solution of some of these taxonomic problems. His molecular biological research gives some insight into the phylogeny of the hornbills, and with further data of more species and subspecies it will help in revising the taxonomy. It is noteworthy that this research is supported by museums and zoos as well. Hübner's work has interested his supervisor Roland Prinzinger so much that the research on hornbills at Frankfurt University will be expanded. Besides the molecular genetic research, there will be behavioural studies too.

Last but not least, mention should be made in this section of Eberhard Curio, whose group works in the Philippines. One of their targets is research on hornbills, their significance for the rain forest ecosystem and their protection.

Methods and data used in this survey

In what follows, I will survey the data available for the hornbill species bred in captivity. For this paper I will discuss only the basic data on the breeding cycle and longevity. My first and main source is the International Zoo Yearbook with its reference section. Secondary sources are the EEPs and European studbooks of the respective species. Other sources are annual reports, publications on hornbills, personal communications and my own observations. The number of individuals bred and of zoos are minimum numbers found in these sources. There may be other collections which are not mentioned in the Yearbook and which I do not know. Also, species other than those mentioned may have been bred in small collections or outside Europe and the United States. Where possible, I name the year and collection of first breeding. But even here, it is possible that an earlier breeding succeeded somewhere but was not published in the literature available. Therefore any additions to the data would be very welcome.

Review of the breeding of hornbills

As mentioned above, the breeding of hornbills is a new development in zoos. After the first breeding of red-billed hornbill and the breeding attempts of yellow-billed hornbill at Berlin and Frankfurt before World War II, only one further breeding attempt is known, that of the trumpeter hornbills (Ceratogymna bucinator) at London Zoo in 1936 (Stonor, 1937).

After the war, the first known breeding took place at Honolulu Zoo with the Indian pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) in 1951 and 1953 (Lint, 1972). In 1953, Basel Zoo bred two Abyssinian ground hornbills, but they could not be reared. The same happened in 1954 (Lorca, 1998). In the annual reports of Basel Zoo the world's first breeding of this species is not mentioned.

The next documented breeding of hornbills was in the 1960s. Two new species, southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) and great hornbill, bred in two zoos. In the 1970s, ten more species and subspecies bred for the first time in captivity, in the 1980s eight more species, and during the following ten years till the end of the 20th century, another ten species and subspecies bred for the first time. Altogether, from the first documented breeding of hornbills in 1926 through to 2000, 27 species have bred in captivity. Approximately 150 collections have bred one or more hornbill species during this time. Since 1926 at least 2,343 hornbills have hatched in collections. Of these, 263 belong to the Bucorvidae, and 2,080 to the Bucerotidae. The most commonly-bred species is the red-billed hornbill with 707 chicks. Together the Tockus species have bred half of all the hornbills, 1,180 chicks. Yet despite this many Tockus species have never bred or only in very low numbers. The real number of birds bred is presumably higher, as many bird parks and smaller collections are not mentioned in the International Zoo Yearbook and often do not publish their successes. Also, very little information is available on private breeders.

Species section

The following part will give some remarks on breeding results of the different species. There is a very large gap between the number of birds bred and of breeding facilities and the information available on the breeding of hornbills. Many observations – if they are made and collected – are hidden in the drawers of the respective collection or lost. So we have to analyse the few data available. Of all the questions possible about hornbills, I will concentrate on the breeding cycle and longevity data of these birds in captivity.


These were the first hornbill species kept in Europe. The European studbook names 47 Abyssinian ground hornbills and 67 southern ground hornbills (Lorca, 2000). A European studbook exists for both species, a North American regional studbook for northern ground hornbills, and an African studbook for southern ground hornbills. The latter is the only hornbill species which has taken part in a release programme.

Northern ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus)

The first breeding of northern ground hornbills was in 1953, when two chicks hatched at Basel Zoo. No more information is available about this (presumably) first breeding in captivity. In 1954, two further chicks hatched. None of the four chicks survived for long. The next breeding was in Lubumbashi (Elizabethville) in the Congo (later Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo), where two chicks hatched in 1964. According to the International Zoo Yearbook (1966), they were reared.

After unsuccessful hatchings at Rotterdam (1965) and Bristol (1971), San Diego Wild Animal Park saw the first successful breeding outside Africa. In 1972, the first chick hatched and fledged, followed by 32 more hatchlings, of which 20 survived. Up until 2000, at least 28 collections bred this species. Altogether 203 chicks hatched, of which 128 survived.

Besides the studbook, nine publications give information about the breeding cycle. At San Diego W.A.P., chicks are reported to have left the nest at 80 and 90 days after hatching; the latter chicks were hand-reared (Penny, 1975). The only other information about the nestling time is about 80 days at Paignton Zoo. Chicks hatch between March and September, although two chicks hatched at Walsrode in November. The number of eggs is usually two, sometimes one. Only once, a female laid three eggs. If the first clutch is taken away, a second and third clutch are possible.

A bird imported on 13 August 1970 is still alive (Lorca, 2000).

Southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)

The southern ground hornbill has been less common in collections, so successful breeding is even rarer. The first chick hatched in 1980 at Jacksonville (Florida), and one year later the first chick fledged at the same zoo. The first zoo in Europe to breed the species was Prague in 1994. Only ten zoos worldwide had bred a total of about 60 chicks by 2000. Three publications mention egg-laying between March and July. In one zoo, the nestling period is given as 81 days (Anon., 1996); the two chicks were hand-reared. Clutch size is one or two. Kemp (1995) gives no information about the species' longevity; maybe it is similar to its relative. The oldest bird in Europe was imported in 1983 (Lorca, 1998).


The most common hornbills in captivity belong to the genus Tockus, and of the 14 species, nine have bred. The most common species is the red-billed hornbill, which is also the most often bred hornbill. More than half of all breeding records belong to the Tockus species, and nearly two-thirds of the chicks are red-billed hornbills. Most of the Tockus species inhabit the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa. The management of these species seems to be easy and they are numerous in zoos. As against this, inhabitants of the African rain forest are very rare and no report exists on such species as the dwarf black hornbill (T. hartlaubi) or the dwarf red-billed hornbill (T. camurus) in captivity. Better known and sometimes kept in captivity is the long-tailed hornbill (T. albocristatus), of which a number have been imported during recent years. At least three collections keep this species. Tockus species were the first hornbills to breed in captivity. Unlike other hornbills, they often have broods with five or more young.

African crowned hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus)

Most of our knowledge on African crowned hornbills originates from the observations of Ranger (1949, 1950, 1951, 1952). This species is seldom kept in zoos and bird parks. Brouwer (1991) mentions one zoo exhibiting the species in Europe and two others which had kept it previously. Houston Zoo was the first to breed the species, in 1993 and 1994. Birdpark Avifauna, Alphen, was successful for the first time in 1998 and has bred the species yearly since. At the Dutch Hornbill Foundation six have been raised. At Houston, the female was sealed in on 6 August 1993. The chicks hatched between 17 and 21 September and left the nest hole between 5 and 9 October after 49 days. No other breeding report has been published. According to Kemp (1995), no longevity records exist.

African grey hornbill (Tockus nasutus)

The African grey hornbill is the second commonest species in collections. They have bred in 14 zoos, bird parks and private collections. Of the 176 chicks which hatched, only 19 died. Vogelpark Walsrode was the first to breed the species, in 1981 (Wennrich, 1982), followed one year later by Pittsburgh Zoo. The most successful zoos are Cincinnati with 35 chicks and Chester with 29 chicks. The clutch size is large and often five or six young hatch. Four published breeding records and two personal communications give the following picture. Females seal in between January (Vogelpark Heppenheim) and July (Niendorf Bird Park, Timmendorfer Strand, and Gelsenkirchen Zoo) (Gürtler, 2000). The female leaves the nest at from 42 to 62 days, about three weeks before the young. The nestling time of the chicks is reported from five clutches and lasted 37, 39, 39, 43 and 47 days. On two occasions a second clutch was reported a short time after the young fledged. In Zürich the female sealed in again 18 days after leaving the cavity; two young fledged from the second clutch (Zingg, 1997). In August 2000 six young fledged at Niendorf. The female sealed in again, but left the cavity after five weeks without any sign of eggs or chicks. The longevity is 20 years (Kemp, 1995).

Red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus)

The most common species of hornbill in captivity, the red-billed hornbill, breeds frequently. Despite this success, many problems exist with the management of these birds and need to be solved.

The red-billed hornbill was the first hornbill species which bred in captivity. In 1926 chicks hatched at Frankfurt and Berlin Zoos. At Berlin the female laid two clutches, but none of the young survived. In the following year Berlin Zoo had its first success. One chick fledged. Then breeding stopped, and only in 1935 did another chick hatch, which again did not survive. At Frankfurt Zoo, three chicks were hand-reared in 1926. In 1927, three of four chicks which hatched fledged.

The next known success came at Wassenaar in 1959, and thereafter at Krefeld Zoo (Encke, 1969) and Winged World (Morecambe, U.K.) (Roots, 1968) in 1967. From this time on, many zoos bred red-billed hornbills. At least 56 collections have bred more than 700 young. Most zoos bred the species for one to five years; only four collections succeeded for more than ten years.

This huge success brought more publications than on any other hornbill species. Observations of 28 broods are given in 14 publications, and there are other publications on red-billed hornbill breeding in captivity. The females sealed in between April and September, and remained in the nest for 58 to 87 days. In one case a female left the nest after 45 days and the chicks had to be hand-reared. In two zoos 119 and 141 days are named. At Prague (Brodský, 1977) the female stayed in the nest longer than the young. After she left the nest, three infertile eggs were found, so these eggs may have been a second clutch. Nestling time is from 41 to 57 days. Pairs sometimes produce second and third clutches, so the number of young per year can be high. Frankfurt has the record with 15 young in 1980, and from 1970 until 1986, 89 chicks.

In the wild, they can breed in the first season after fledging (Moreau, 1938). At Gettorf a female which hatched on 13 July 1991 sealed in on 3 July 1992 and reared her young (de Ruiter, 1992).

Kemp (1995) names a longevity of 18 years.

The taxonomy of the red-billed hornbill is still uncertain. There are numerous subspecies which still have to be described and verified. Zoos seldom distinguish between the subspecies. The only subspecies named in the reports is T. e. damarensis. Many of the young in zoos may be hybrids between different subspecies. The molecular genetic researches of Hübner (1999) indicate that some of the subspecies should perhaps be reclassified as full species. It is difficult to use the birds in zoos for a description of subspecies or populations. Only birds of well-known origin can help to solve this problem. Maybe hybridisation between subspecies is the cause of so many pairs failing to breed and of the short time for which many pairs have bred. Despite these problems, red-billed hornbills seem to be an excellent example for zoos who wish to get a first experience of breeding hornbills. Maybe they could also be used as subjects for research on artificial insemination and other breeding technologies in hornbills.

Eastern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus flavirostris)

The eastern yellow-billed hornbill is a good example of the taxonomic problems which exist in the hornbills and their management in captivity. Until the 1990s the eastern and southern yellow-billed hornbills were considered to be one species, the southern being a subspecies of the nominate form. According to Kemp (1995) both are different species with their own subspecies. So it is difficult today to know what birds were kept before the recognition of the two species. Only if the former subspecies is known, is it possible to say which species were kept and bred. Very few pictures exist of the birds formerly kept, and the origin of the birds was hardly ever published. Mostly they were bought from animal dealers. So I have treated birds of unknown origin as T. flavirostris in every case where the subspecies leucomelas is not mentioned. Another problem is possible hybridisation between the two species. Kemp (1995) reports that at the South African National Zoo, Pretoria, hybrids between southern yellow-billed hornbill and red-billed hornbill fledged. Nothing else is known about these birds. So it is possible that some hybrids between T. leucomelas and T. flavirostris are listed as eastern yellow-billed hornbills too.

The first breeding attempt by eastern yellow-billed hornbills was at Berlin Zoo in 1926. The female sealed in and laid two eggs. As far as is known, the young did not hatch. A private collector had the first success in breeding the species in 1983 (Marshall, 1984). Kitakyushu Zoo in Japan reared four young in 1984 and was the first zoo successful with this species. Altogether eight collections and two private breeders are known to have bred them. All the pairs bred once or twice and then stopped breeding. Since 1992, no breeding of eastern yellow-billed hornbills has been reported from zoos. A private breeder in the Netherlands reared two chicks in 2000.

Only two reports from collections have been published (Neunzig, 1926; Marshall, 1984). In June or July the female sealed in and in one case left the nest after 82 days. No publication on longevity exists.

Southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

As mentioned above, the southern yellow-billed hornbill was formerly believed to be a subspecies of the eastern yellow-billed hornbill. This species seems to be much more successful in zoos than the eastern. Despite the fact that only four zoos have bred them, the number of chicks is more than double. Two of the zoos bred them for many years. Nevertheless, the last success with the species was in 1991.

Bloemfontein Zoo was the world's first breeder in 1961 and again in 1963. As South Africa is the home of the species, the climate and food in Bloemfontein is similar to that in the wild. Busch Gardens, Tampa, was the next to breed southern yellow-billed hornbills successfully, in 1977. In Tampa, the birds bred five times in ten years. Fourteen chicks hatched and 12 fledged. From 1979 till 1987 San Diego W.A.P. reared 31 young; ten others did not survive. The last breeding success was at Tierpark Berlin in 1991 (Grummt, 1991). The male had hatched at San Diego W.A.P. in 1979; whereas the female and daughter are now dead, he was still alive in September 2000. As no information on longevity is known about either species of yellow-billed hornbill, this seems a good lifespan, even compared with red-billed hornbills.

Von der Decken's hornbill (Tockus deckeni deckeni)

Two subspecies exist of Von der Decken's hornbill, the nominate form and Jackson's hornbill; the two are easy to distinguish. Winnipeg Zoo bred the first Von der Decken's hornbills in 1976. Twelve other collections followed this success. But even with good breeding results of four or more chicks per clutch, no long-term breeding took place, and during the 1980s no chicks hatched. At the end of the 1990s only four European collections have reared Von der Decken's hornbills. In 1990 a second clutch was reported at Leeds Castle (Paterson, 1992). Winnipeg reported eight chicks in 1977, which seems to imply a second clutch, but no information has been published.

Only four publications give information on breeding cycles. The female was sealed in for about 60 days at San Diego (Lieras, 1979). In December 1998 a male hatched at Heppenheim. It developed a crossed bill, but is still alive. This was the first success with this subspecies in a German zoo. In 1999 another chick hatched, but died on the day the female left the nest; some days later the female died too. Chicks hatched in October and July at Berlin Zoo in 1999 and 2000.

Jackson's hornbill (Tockus deckeni jacksoni)

This subspecies of Von der Decken's Hornbill is also often kept in zoos. First breeding began earlier, in 1974, when London Zoo reared the first young. Since then nine other zoos have bred Jackson's hornbill. The first breeding success in Germany was at Walsrode in 1995. Breeding results are better than in the nominate form and some pairs bred for longer periods, up to ten years. At San Diego, the females were sealed in for about 63 days.

A female which hatched in captivity lived for more than eleven years.


As with the tarictic hornbills, there has been some taxonomic confusion with the Asian pied hornbills. Frith and Frith (1983) reviewed the genus, but zoos did not take note of the new taxonomy. Most important was the split of the former species Anthracoceros coronatus into two different species, Indian pied hornbill (A. coronatus) and oriental pied hornbill (A. albirostris) with two subspecies, Asian pied hornbill (A. a. albirostris) and Sunda pied hornbill (A. a. convexus). Up to the end of the 1990s zoos were still using A. coronatus for both species. Another commonly-used name, especially in the United States, is A. malabaricus. So from breeding records it is often difficult to work out which species bred. Of the 22 collections which reported breeding `Malabar hornbills', five seem to have bred Indian pied hornbills, four Asian pied hornbills, four Sunda pied hornbills, and one hybrids between Asian and Sunda pied hornbills. In the other seven collections, the species bred is uncertain.

Apart from these species, only Malay black hornbills have been bred.

For the Anthracoceros hornbills a European studbook exists. Simon Tonge published the first edition in 1997. Since the descriptions given by Kemp (1995) are not sufficient to discriminate between the `Malabar' species and subspecies, Tonge published a helpful new description in the studbook from which each keeper of `Malabar' hornbills can decide to which species and subspecies his birds belong.

Malay black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus)

During the eighties and nineties some Malay black hornbills were imported to Europe and the United States. Jurong BirdPark, Singapore, bred them first in 1992. Two German zoos, Saarbrücken in 1993 and Eberswalde in 1994, followed. Altogether eight zoos and two private breeders are known to have had success with the species. Jurong and Eberswalde have bred them repeatedly, the other zoos twice. At Tierpark Gettorf a chick hatched in 1998 but failed to survive; in 1999, the female sealed in again but without any result. The owner of a small animal park in Germany told me that he has bred more than 20, but since he did not confirm this success by any photos, breeding data or comments on the whereabouts of the offspring, I can only mention it an indication of the difficulties of recording the captive population.

Chicks have hatched between February and July, one in September and one in October. Only once, the nestling time is given, with 58, 63 and 67 days respectively for three young (Nyunt et al., 1996). The time the female is sealed in for has not been published.

The longevity record is 21 years (Kemp, 1995). In Europe the oldest living birds at 28 May 2000 were 14 years old.

Indian pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus)

In the studbook, Tonge (1997) suggests that no birds of this species are living outside India. The first bird claimed to be an Indian pied hornbill hatched in captivity as early as 1951 at Honolulu Zoo, but did not survive. Two years later the zoo's records report the hatching of a Malaysian pied hornbill, which would be A. albirostris convexus. Very likely the parents of both chicks were the same. This chick fledged, but its further fate is unknown (Santos, pers. comm.). Lint (1972) published a picture of the male of this pair at the nest hole. The female sealed in in March and left the cavity after 109 days in July. The chick was heard first in April and left the nest together with its mother after 67 days. This may have been the only breeding success of Indian pied hornbills outside Asia, as no further breeding of this species is confirmed.

Longevity is not reported.

Asian pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris albirostris)

This subspecies of oriental pied hornbill has bred at least at three collections. Woodland Park was the world's first zoo to rear two young in 1972. Up to 1975, nine chicks hatched there. Berlin Zoo was the first European collection which was successful with this species, in 1994. Between then and 1997, eight (4.4) young fledged, every year a male and a female. Heppenheim acquired a pair hatched in 1994 from Berlin and they bred for the first time in 1999. In 2000 no chick hatched. As the Berlin male has died, Heppenheim is at the moment the only collection with a breeding pair.

Females sealed in between April and June. Young hatched between May and September and fledged between July and October. The females were sealed in for between 86 and 102 days. The nestling time was 53 to 60 days. At Heppenheim the time between the first chirping heard and the fledging was only 47 days (Teckentrup, pers. comm.); but it is possible that the keeper did not hear the first chirping. At Berlin during the four consecutive nesting seasons, the sealing time shifted from July to April (Reinhard and Strehlow, 1998).

The longevity for this subspecies is held by a male who was captured in 1981 and arrived at Tierpark Gettorf in 1982. In 1999, the bird was still alive. It has been transferred to a private collector and no longer belongs to the European studbook, but its lifespan should be monitored.

Sunda pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus)

This subspecies of oriental pied hornbill has bred at four zoos in Europe and at Jurong BirdPark. The latter had its first young in 1992. Chessington (U.K.) and Beauval (St Aignan, France) were the first in Europe, in 1995. In 1996 Vogelpark Irgenöd at Ortenburg in Germany bred Sunda pied hornbills for the first time, and by 1999 six young had hatched there (Schobesberger, pers. comm.). Kemp (1995) mentions a first breeding of this subspecies in the Western hemisphere in 1953 at Honolulu Zoo; but as shown above, it is possible that these birds could have been A. coronatus, which was synonymous with A. albirostris at that time. At Ortenburg the female sealed in in April; other sealing dates are not published. Egg-laying dates are only available from Jurong, where they were in January and March, with second and third clutches following in May and August. In Europe chicks hatched between May and July. At Ortenburg they fledged after 56 days. The female was sealed in for 86 days. No other data are available.

The longevity record of this subspecies is held by a male which arrived at Vogelpark Detmold-Heiligenkirchen in 1971. As the bird was full-grown the owner, Mr Eckstein, estimated that the hatching was in 1966. But as Reinhard and Strehlow (1998) showed, the bill reaches mature coloration in the second or third year, so it is only possible to assume that the bird was more than two years old. This male died on 20 October 1998; it lived for more than 27 years in captivity and was therefore at least 29 years old. This is the male which is described in the 1997 studbook as being 31 year old, using the estimated hatching date of 1966.

`Malabar hornbills' of uncertain species or subspecies

Seven more collections bred a `Malabar hornbill'. At Djakarta, single chicks hatched but did not survive in 1976 and 1977. These could have been Sunda pied hornbills. The other breeders are U.S. zoos. It would be desirable for the species and subspecies of these birds to be clarified, especially those at Los Angeles and San Diego, where the last breeding was in 1996 and 1998 respectively.


At Birdpark Avifauna two broods of hybrids between the two subspecies of oriental pied hornbill are known. One of these birds is still alive in Europe. The chicks hatched in July 1990 and May 1993.


Great hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

Of the genus Buceros, the great hornbill is more often kept and bred than the other species. Earlier the species was believed to have two subspecies, B. b. bicornis and B. b. homrai. Today it is believed that these are not true subspecies but rather clines of a common population reaching from the foothills of the Himalayas to Sumatra. Separately from this population, a second population lives in the west of India. It seems that nobody has checked this population for its subspecies status, despite its obvious isolation from the eastern population. In the older literature of the 19th century the great Indian hornbill is scientifically named as B. cavatus, and in Howard and Moore's checklist (1991) a subspecies B. b. cavatus from south-west India is named. Whether there have been any birds of this possible subspecies in zoos is uncertain.

First breeding attempts with great hornbills began as early as 1951, when a female sealed in at San Diego Zoo. Unfortunately she died after a fortnight, and the two eggs could not be saved (Stott, 1951). The first zoo which bred the species was Honolulu in 1968 (Brouwer, 1993, from Marvin Jones, pers. comm.). Marvin Jones is an excellent source of information and this notice will be right. Santos (pers. comm.) confirmed the year but could not find any more information in the records. Kemp (1995) mentions a great hornbill bred in 1953, but this seems to be a mistake – the original paper (Lint, 1972) mentioned an Indian pied hornbill bred at Honolulu Zoo in 1953.

Including Honolulu, 25 collections have bred great hornbills. Rostock Zoo and Avifauna have been the most successful. Rostock bred with two different pairs and hatched 20 young between 1975 and 1993, though the results were not published until 2000 (Nehls, 2000). Avifauna succeeded from 1982 on, and after a break of five years a chick hatched on 25 February 2000. Vogelpark Niendorf was the second zoo in Europe which was successful in 2000. In 1999, the female sealed in without success, but in 2000 the first young at Niendorf fledged. No other breeding records are known since 1997 in Europe. From 1968 till 2000 more than 86 great hornbills hatched in captivity.

The prominence of the birds has led to many publications on the breeding cycle (e.g. Choy, 1978; Golding and Williams, 1986; Robiller and Trogisch, 1985). Females sealed in between December and May. (Just once a female sealed in in August.) Eggs per clutch were two to four. Up to four chicks hatched between February and June, in one case in August and in another in October. Normally one young fledged after a nestling time between 70 and 118 days. The females were sealed in for 75 to 120 days. The number of eggs and young turned out to be higher than previously thought. Nehls (2000) reported two to four eggs in each brood, most of them fertile. But the second, third and fourth young died within a short time from starvation, as the oldest chick consumed most of the food. Nehls also reported a gradual moult as in other birds. This problem should be more closely monitored in more sealed-in females, as the literature cited in Kemp (1995) is inconsistent.

Three obvious hybrids with rhinoceros hornbills are reported, but their origin is unknown.

The longevity is the highest of all hornbills. The record is held by the female Josephine, who arrived in London in 1951 and died after 47 years. After 37 years she laid her first and only egg (de Ruiter, 1999). At Osnabrück Zoo a female died on 9 May 2000 who had arrived on 19 July 1962.

Rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros)

Three subspecies of rhinoceros hornbill are recognised. In former times most captive birds belonged to the Malayan or Bornean subspecies, but these are now rare in captivity. Most birds kept now are Javan rhinoceros hornbills (B. r. silvestris). The European studbook is kept by Hübner in Frankfurt am Main but is not yet published. All rhinoceros hornbills bred are Javan except three birds at Walsrode's breeding and research station, Ornis Mallorca, who are of the Bornean subspecies. The first breeding was at Audubon Park, New Orleans (Reilly, 1988), which is the most successful breeder of rhinoceros hornbills, with 18 hatched. Eight other collections have since bred the Javan subspecies. Only Ornis Mallorca has bred two subspecies; their first breeding of Bornean rhinoceros hornbills was in 1993, and a second young fledged in 1995.

Only three sealing dates have been published; the females sealed in between March and June. Young hatched between April and August (four publications) and fledged in July (only one report). The nestling period was 80 days. Once a female was sealed in for 53 days, another time for 86 days.

Longevity should be similar to that of the great hornbill, but only a bird of 22 years is recorded (Kemp, 1995).

Rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax)

There are three subspecies of rufous hornbill. It is not known if the great Samar hornbill was ever kept. The other two subspecies are seldom kept or bred. The species has bred in Europe only twice, first at Wassenaar in 1981 and then at Avifauna in 1987. Two and four young hatched, but none survived. The high number of hatchlings reminds one of the breeding of great hornbills. Jurong was the first collection to have a success; one chick was reared in 1996.

Kemp (1995) gives the longevity as 15 years. Reinhard and Strehlow (1998) reported a male which arrived at Berlin Zoo in 1966 and was still alive in 1997.


The Penelopides species have the most difficult taxonomy of all the hornbills. The former species tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini) is now split into four different species, the Visayan (P. panini), Luzon (P. manillae), Mindanao (P. affinis) and Mindoro (P. mindorensis) tarictic hornbills. Four of the five Penelopides species have bred in captivity. The main problem arises with the former species tarictic hornbill. Zoos often got pairs of tarictic hornbills of different subspecies. As the tarictic hornbill has always been rare, zoos often ignored possible subspecies differences. In this way, from the standpoint of modern taxonomy, they produced hybrids between different species. So today it is difficult to say to which species many tarictic hornbills formerly bred in zoos belonged.

Even with living birds it is often impossible to give the correct species. Hybrids are similar to one or the other parent species. Only with birds caught in the wild can the species be decided with certainty. For example, the birds bred at Vogelpark Schmiding seem to be hybrids between a male of unknown species and a Luzon tarictic female. Artmann (1992) names the male as a Samar tarictic hornbill (P. affinis samarensis), but it could equally well be a Visayan, as the male offspring of the Schmiding pair are similar to Visayan males, and the female offspring resemble Luzon females. Even the plumage of fledging young shows the coloration of the respective sex. This is a feature of Luzon tarictic hornbills. The Schmiding offspring are fertile and can breed and rear successful chicks, which have the same pattern of coloration as their parents, as shown in Raritätenzoo Ebbs. At Berlin Zoo, a female from Schmiding paired with a wild-caught Luzon tarictic hornbill. The offspring, both female and male, resembled the adults and were similar to Luzon tarictic hornbills. Even third-generation breeding is known. A male hatched at Berlin produced a chick at Frankfurt with a female from Schmiding. So without real knowledge about the founders and their offspring, it is difficult to decide whether any particular bird belongs to a species or is a hybrid. Similar problems arise with the other breeding groups in Europe. These taxonomic difficulties show that the speciation of the Penelopides hornbills is an ongoing process in which the borders between the species are more a matter of geography than of genetic and behavioural differences. Stephan Hübner, who has worked on the taxonomy of hornbills, will be making a further study of the taxonomy of the tarictic hornbills. The first European studbook was published in 2000, but the studbook holder, D.A. Bolton, did not distinguish the species for the reasons named above.

A longevity of 14 years is recorded (Kemp, 1995), but the species is not confirmed, though thought to be Luzon tarictic hornbill. A male which arrived in London on 22 July 1977 died in August 1996. At Frankfurt Zoo the female of the breeding pair arrived in 1998 from Schmiding. Mr Hübner told me that this female is proven to be 21 years old; but the studbook does not confirm this date. In a letter in 1996 Mr Artmann of Schmiding told me that he got his pair from an Austrian dealer in 1988, but in 1996 only a female was living at Schmiding; this was the bird which later on bred in Frankfurt. Currently the oldest living bird in Europe is at Berlin Zoo; he arrived in March 1986.

South Sulawesi tarictic hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus sanfordi)

This species has been validated for a long time and is so different from the other species that zoos never confused them. The species is seldom kept. San Diego W.A.P. had the world's first breeding success in 1993 when, of four chicks hatched, one survived. Since then San Diego has regularly bred this species, and by 1998 had bred 13 young of which nine survived. In 1993 the birds laid a second clutch. The young of the first clutch hatched in late April or early May in 1993 and 1994, the young of the second clutch in June (Mace and Azua, 1997).

No longevity is reported.

Visayan tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini)

Two subspecies of Visayan tarictic hornbill used to exist, but the Ticao subspecies (P. p. ticaensis) seems to be extinct, and even the Visayan (P. p. panini) is in danger of extinction. It seems that of the 15 collections that claim to have reared tarictic hornbills, most bred hybrids or Luzon tarictic hornbills. It is uncertain if the first success at Los Angeles Zoo was a Visayan or a hybrid. From the pictures published (Jennings and Rundel, 1976) the male resembles a Visayan, but the fledged young has the plumage of a female and not of a male as usual for young Visayans. New research confirms that even young Visayans resemble adults of their respective genders (Klop et al., 2000). So maybe the breeding of Visayan tarictic hornbills in 1999 at the breeding centre in Bacolod, Negros, is the first success with this species (Wilkinson, 2000).

Luzon tarictic hornbill (Penelopides manillae)

Only one zoo has bred confirmed Luzon tarictic hornbills. In 1981 San Diego reared two males (Lieras, 1983). In the following years till 1990, 26 more young hatched. The birds who bred successfully at Jurong may also have belonged to the Luzon subspecies (Buay, 1991). The female at San Diego sealed in in April, and eggs were laid between 21 and 30 April. Chicks hatched between 20 and 24 May and fledged after from 57 to 63 days. The female was sealed in for 102 days. At Jurong the female sealed in on 4 March, the first chirping of chicks was heard on 29 March, and the hand-reared chicks fledged after about 60 days.

Samar tarictic hornbill (Penelopides affinis samarensis)

San Diego succeeded twice in breeding this species in 1993 and 1995. Each year one young was reared. But nothing has been published about this first breeding in captivity.

Tarictic hornbills of uncertain species and hybrids

Few data are available on the breeding cycle of tarictic hornbills, and the uncertainty about successful breeding may justify summarising the data available. The close relationship between the Penelopides species offers further justification.

Twelve collections bred hybrids or birds of unknown species. Los Angeles Zoo was the first breeder of tarictic hornbills, in 1974. Up to 1976, 16 chicks fledged. The females sealed in between February and June. In Europe chicks hatched between the end of March and August, and once at Bristol Zoo in October. A second clutch was laid twice at Raritätenzoo Ebbs. In July, four months after the first sealing and two or four weeks after the young fledged, the female sealed in again (Bihler, pers. comm.). The young of the first clutch hatched between the end of March and the end of July and fledged between April and September. In Europe third-generation breeding of hybrids is known at Frankfurt, in 1999. Most of the breeding pairs stopped breeding during the 1990s. Until the taxonomic problems are solved and the birds in Europe can be paired with mates of the same species, zoos will not support further breeding of `tarictic hornbills'.


White-crowned hornbill (Aceros comatus)

As in many hornbill species, the breeding cycle and egg-laying of white-crowned hornbills are little known. The species has only twice bred in captivity. In 1993 Ornis Mallorca reared the first three white-crowned hornbills. A year later Discovery Island Zoo (Buena Vista, Florida) followed with one chick. This young hatched on 11 October and fledged after 63 days on 13 December.

The longevity is more than 30 years. The male of the pair who arrived at Berlin Zoo in 1966 (Reinhard and Strehlow, 1998) died in 1999 (Frädrich, 2000), but the female is – as far as I know – still alive as at September 2000. This bird has lived for more than 34 years in captivity.

Sulawesi wrinkled hornbill (Aceros cassidix)

This very attractive hornbill is rarely kept. First breeding was in 1991 when young hatched at three collections. Only Ornis Mallorca was successful and reared three young from two pairs (Michi, 1993). Since then ten collections have successfully bred the species. At least 44 young have hatched up to 2000. Five collections bred the species for four or more years – besides Ornis Mallorca, these are Audubon Park, San Diego Zoo, Jardin d'Oiseaux Tropicaux (La Londe, France) and Ebbs.

The females seal in between April and August. Chicks hatched (two cases reported) in June and July, and young fledged between August and January. The nestling time, 79 days, is known in only one brood. Females were sealed in for 120 to 142 days. One or two young hatched and fledged.

At present no data on longevity are known.

Sunda wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugatus)

With at least 107 young, the Sunda wrinkled hornbill is the most successful Aceros species in collections. The first full success with this species was at Audubon Park in 1988. Nineteen holders have reported chicks of Sunda wrinkled hornbill since then.

Females sealed in between February and September. Two or three eggs were laid. Three times, the first egg was laid four or five days after sealing was finished (Sigler and Myers, 1992). Young hatched between May and September, once in February at Jurong (Lilleør, 1998). They fledged after 60 to 76 days. The females were sealed in for between 90 and 124 days; they left the nest earlier if the chicks died. Second clutches are sometimes reported after both successful and unsuccessful broods, have but failed to produce fertile eggs (Low, 1995; Gucwinski, pers. comm.).

Longevity is not known. The oldest birds in Europe were aged 16 in 1998 (Lilleør, 1998).

Papuan wreathed or Blyth's hornbill (Aceros plicatus)

Papuan wreathed hornbills are a good example of the difficulties involved in simply giving the history of captive breeding. The first breedings mentioned in the International Zoo Yearbook were at Rotterdam, San Diego and Cricket St Thomas (Chard, U.K.) in 1994. Breedings for 1994 mentioned by Brouwer (1995) include the first two of these and add La Londe, Birds International (Philippines) and the Avicultural Breeding and Research Center (Loxahatchee, Florida). He also reported an unsuccessful brood in 1979 at Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta, and said that the pair at La Londe was the most successful in the world and had already bred before 1994. Mr Dupuyoo of La Londe settled the question. He informed me that at La Londe reproduction of Blyth's hornbill began in 1990 when a chick hatched. Up till 1997 nine chicks hatched, normally one but in 1994 three. This world's first successful rearing is not mentioned anywhere to my knowledge.

Since 1990, 33 Papuan wreathed hornbills have hatched in 12 collections. At three collections the females sealed in in April or May. One or two chicks hatched and only one fledged. Hatching was between May and July in four collections. Only one fledging date is published (King et al., 1996); this premature chick left the nest cavity after 55 days, in July, together with the mother, after the male died. At El Retiro Park (Malaga), the young left the nest cavity after 126 days (Scheres and Alba, 1997).

No longevity reports have been published. The oldest bird in Europe, a male, arrived in 1967 and has lived in Beauval Zoo since 1988; up to now (2000) he has been in captivity for 33 years (Pavlin, 1999).

Wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus)

Of all Aceros species the wreathed hornbill has been the most common in captivity; but numbers are now declining, at least in Europe. This was the first Aceros species to breed in captivity, when a private breeder in Asia reared a chick (Bemmel, 1968); unfortunately the year is not named. At Bronx Zoo a pair reared a chick in 1977, and with 12 chicks between 1977 and 1995, Bronx is the most prolific breeder of wreathed hornbills, followed by Rotterdam and Gettorf with nine young each. Altogether 50 young have hatched in 12 zoos.

Clutches contain up to three eggs. Sometimes two chicks fledge. Females seal in between December and June and stay in the cavity for between 78 and 127 days. Young hatch from the end of January to September after a nestling period of between 70 and 104 days.

Kemp names a longevity of 15 years. At Berlin Zoo a female arrived in March 1965 (Reinhard and Strehlow, 1998). She died in 1999 after more than 34 years in captivity. In 1997 and 1998 she sealed in for the first and second time in her life, but no eggs or signs of young were found when she left the nest after being sealed in for more than three months.

Writhe-billed hornbill (Aceros leucocephalus)

This beautiful bird, one of the smaller species of the genus Aceros, is not often kept and very seldom bred. The first breeding success was at Miami Metrozoo in 1989. San Diego and Audubon Park succeeded in 1993. At Audubon nine chicks hatched of which five survived. The only report on breeding in captivity gives observations from Audubon Park (Myers, 2000).



Trumpeter hornbill (Ceratogymna bucinator)

Of the Ceratogymna species, the trumpeter hornbill is kept and bred most often. Twenty-one collections are known to have bred the species. De Ruiter (1996) names three more collections or private holders in the Netherlands and Denmark, and maybe there are some more.

As early as 1936, a first breeding attempt was noticed at London Zoo (Stonor, 1937). The first hatching was at Natal Zoo (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa), where two young fledged in 1970. The next reported successes were at Augsburg Zoo in 1984 (Gorgas, 1986) and Chester in 1989 (Wilkinson and Merry, 1991). Since 1970 more than 150 trumpeter hornbills have hatched, which has made the species much more common in collections. Some problems exist with malformed young, but most breeding pairs have been successful over many years.

Females sealed in between January and May. Mostly two chicks hatched, sometimes one or three, between March and July. The young fledged between May and September after a nestling time of 49 to 83 days. During successful broods the females have been sealed in for 79 to 117 days.

Kemp (1995) mentions a longevity of 21 years.

Grey-cheeked hornbill (Ceratogymna subcylindricus)

Birdworld (Farnham, U.K.) was the first collection to breed grey-cheeked hornbills, in 1972 (Harvey, 1973). Since then 41 birds have hatched at eight collections. Four pairs have bred four times or more.

Females sealed in between March and May. Two eggs per clutch seems to be normal. One or two chicks hatched between March and September and fledged 60 to 87 days later. Females were sealed in for 104 to 131 days.

Kemp (1995) reports a longevity of 31 years.

Silvery-cheeked hornbill (Ceratogymna brevis)

The first breeding was in 1991, when Ornis Mallorca hatched a chick. Six collections have since succeeded with this species and 31 young have been reared.

Females sealed in between April and July, and chicks hatched between June and August and fledged between August and September after 57 to 60 days. The females were sealed in for 102 to 115 days.

The longevity is not known.

Black-casqued wattled hornbill (Ceratogymna atrata) and yellow-casqued wattled hornbill (Ceratogymna elata)

No successful breeding is known of these species. As both species have been imported in larger numbers in recent years, a breeding attempt by black-casqued wattled hornbill at Copenhagen Zoo should be mentioned (Poulsen, 1970). In May 1967, the female sealed in, but left the cavity after five weeks. In 1968 she sealed in on 13 March and left the nest on 11 May. No eggs or remains of young were found, and the pair died in 1968. The longevity record of black-casqued wattled hornbill comes from Berlin Zoo, where a female lived from 1962 until 1986. Also at Berlin, a yellow-casqued wattled hornbill lived from 1962 until 1985 (Reinhard and Blaszkiewitz, 1986). This was the bird mentioned by Kemp (1995).

Another species of Ceratogymna which we hope will breed soon is the piping hornbill (C. fistulator). At Guinate Tropical Park, Lanzarote, this species is kept and some breeding activity was observed in November 1998 (Marín and Matesanz, 1999).


Despite the large number of successful breedings, the data about breeding cycles are still unsatisfactory. Often only part – if any – of the data has been published. So you will find some inconsistencies in this paper. For example, the published data on grey-cheeked hornbills say that females sealed in between March and May, but young hatched between March and September. Obviously this does not mean there was a very short or a very long incubation period, but that for the early and late hatchings the sealing date is not published. Readers will be able to find many other examples.

The usefulness of the data collected and published until now is questionable. Only in a few cases can the breeding cycle be described completely, and then often for just one year. The data collected in the wild show a distribution over the whole year for most species with a large geographical range. Breeding is believed to be influenced by rainy seasons and other environmental factors. Even in the wild, the number of observations is often so small that deduction and analysis is difficult. When captive-breeding programmes such as the EEP or SSP try to draw up husbandry and management guidelines on a practical and scientific basis, far more data will be needed. Only then will assertions be possible on the onset of the breeding cycle and other aspects. At the moment, the times the females of a species are sealed in differ to a large extent, even as nestling periods do. At present, it is not possible to understand the reasons. As danger grows for the hornbills of the tropical rain forests due to logging and other habitat destruction, the need for scientifically based breeding programmes will grow. It is astonishing that even well-known zoos do not support the studbook keepers and do not publish the data collected. To build a solid data base of the breeding cycle, each publication should contain the date of the sealing in (which means the date the slit in the wall is so narrow that the female can no longer emerge), the date of egg-laying and the number of eggs (if it is possible to get this information without disturbing the birds), the date of first chirping, the date of fledging and the date when the female leaves the cavity.

Even the longevity of many species is not known. It seems that Bucorvus species have a longevity of about 30 years, Tockus species 15 to 20 years, Anthracoceros species 20 to 30 years, and Penelopides species between 15 and 20 years. Buceros hornbills seem to have the longest duration of life with 30 to 40 years, Aceros species live more than 30 years, and the Ceratogymna group may reach about 30 years.


I want to thank the many curators, owners and keepers of hornbills who have provided me with observations and have allowed me to publish them. Also I am grateful to the studbook keepers with whom I have been allowed to work. Mrs Indu Kumar read and corrected my English. Last but not least, I thank Nicholas Gould for giving me so much space for this little aspect of hornbill biology in captivity.


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Dr Harro Strehlow, Meierottostrasse 5, 10719 Berlin, Germany. (E-mail:

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Dear Sir,

Your note in I.Z.N. 47:7 (p. 453), `An unusual alternative to hand-rearing', gave me some thoughts about how captive-bred animals could help to conserve their species in the wild. A few years ago, a TV crew in Germany discovered a scandal. A number of German wildlife parks sold the brown bears which they had bred that year to dealers (mainly Belgian, if I remember right) who sold them on to restaurants were they were killed and sold as an `exclusive' meal!

The scandal was that even though the wildlife parks knew there was no alternative market for the bears, they still let them breed annually because young bears attract a large public.

In my view, this need not be a problem at all, as long as the animals are killed in a humane way (which in Belgium was unfortunately not always the case). The breeding animals themselves will benefit from it, because they can display natural breeding behaviour, and the owners of the wildlife parks will profit by attracting more visitors. Because of the large demand for bears (or their body parts) in East Asia, I suggest that all bear-keeping collections should allow their bears to breed freely, and every surplus animal should be killed as painlessly as possible and sold to the East Asian market.

If the money earned in this way were to be used for bear conservation projects, we would achieve two major goals. Firstly, the pressure on wild populations would be reduced, and secondly more money would become available for bear conservation. There are also other species which are placed in a non-breeding situation in zoos because of over-production in captivity – for example tiger, African spurred tortoise, Asian rock python – for which there is a large market, mainly in Asia. If these animals were allowed to breed freely, they too could help their wild populations to survive.

I am of course aware that not all zoo people will think the same way about this suggestion, but I still think it is worth discussing.

Yours sincerely,

Maarten de Ruiter,

Pr. Beatrixstraat 9,

4793 CV Fijnaart,

The Netherlands

Dear Sir,

My compliments to Marvin Jones and Richard Weigl for assembling the data on the Philippine eagle in captivity (I.Z.N. 47:8, pp. 496–506). Courtesy of Prof. Carlo Violani, I have learned that a female Pithecophaga jefferyi died in Turin Zoo on 28.08.1963 and is preserved as a mounted specimen in the Milan Natural History Museum (# 27998).

Yours sincerely,

Spartaco Gippoliti,

Viale Liegi 48A,

I-00198 Roma,


* * *


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 tiger is the charismatic megamammal par excellence, one of the (depressingly few) animals that virtually every person can recognise and name. Almost everyone would agree that its extinction in the wild would be a grievous loss, something that would diminish us all. And yet, at least three decades after their urgent plight was first recognised, are tigers any nearer to achieving a safe equilibrium in at least some parts of their historic range? Only the most blinkered optimist would answer that question in the affirmative. Yet the message of Riding the Tiger may be described as one of cautious optimism. Saving the tiger is well within our capacity, if the will is there. Indeed, I'm tempted to say that compared with many other species – the giant panda, say, or the Sumatran rhino – the tiger should be a fairly easy species to save.

Riding the Tiger consists largely of contributions from the speakers at a symposium convened by the Zoological Society of London in 1997, which brought together a large number of scientists working on tiger natural history and conservation. The book is a model of what such publications should be – authoritative, highly informative, attractively designed, and clearly and lavishly illustrated. It is divided into three sections: Introducing the tiger; Tiger ecology: understanding and encouraging landscape patterns and conditions where tigers can persist; and Approaches to tiger conservation. Each section is headed by an overview written by the editors, and the last section is subdivided into three parts: Linking in situ and ex situ tiger conservation; The trade in tiger parts and what to do about it; and People, tiger habitat availability and linkages for the tiger's future.

It is impossible in a short review to do justice to the detail and scope of Riding the Tiger – it is a book that every tiger enthusiast will want to read and own. I shall only pick out a few points which especially caught my attention. Zoo tiger populations are currently organised on a rigidly taxonomic basis; but the papers by Andrew Kitchener and Joelle Wentzel et al. leave one wondering whether this fragmentation of effort and resources has any scientific rationale. Originally, tigers ranged more or less continuously from the Caspian to the Amur and the Sunda Islands; common sense would suggest that at that time they formed a cline rather than a series of discrete subspecies, and recent morphological and genetic studies point to the same conclusion. Decisive resolution of this question may be the most urgent need in ex situ tiger conservation. (It has in situ implications too, of course. Kitchener suggests that the critically endangered South China tiger could be reinforced by animals from South-east Asia or India – this might assist the survival of the tiger as top predator in China, whereas insistence on the `purity' of the tiny P. t. amoyensis population may merely condemn it to eventual extinction.)

Separate, isolated populations are probably more relevant than subspecies as a way of subdividing the world's wild tigers. Tigers today are fragmented into around 160 areas between which there is no dispersal and hence no gene flow. In more than 60% of these areas extinction may already be inevitable. The good news is that the tiger has proved to be a remarkably resilient species; it is capable of surviving alongside humans as long as it has suitable habitat and a sufficient prey base. Tiger breeding rates mean that when circumstances are favourable very rapid recovery is possible. Several contributors stress the central importance of prey; indeed, contrary to most current opinion, prey depletion rather than habitat loss and poaching is the major cause of the tiger's catastrophic decline. Surprisingly, many large blocks of habitat remain throughout India and South-east Asia that could support tigers, but because large ungulates have been hunted out of these areas, tigers cannot survive in them. Where bovids, suids and especially cervids survive in reasonable numbers, tiger populations can largely be left to look after themselves, even in relatively small reserves and in the presence of some low-level poaching. In some places, relatively simple measures to improve habitat for ungulates – for example, providing access to water sites free from human disturbance – may be the best way of encouraging tigers.

Only one chapter directly addresses the part zoos can play in tiger conservation. This includes an interesting discussion of reintroduction, which concludes, on the basis of experience with other large carnivores, that this would be feasible in the right circumstances, though such circumstances are not likely to arise in the near future. If successful in situ measures can safeguard at least some existing populations of wild tigers, reintroduction may never be needed. But a self-sustaining zoo population must be maintained too, as a safety net should in situ conservation fail. Meanwhile, of course, zoos can collect money in support of field programmes and raise public awareness of the tiger's plight. And technologies largely developed in zoos (e.g. small population management and assisted reproductive techniques) may be usefully applied to isolated populations in the wild. The fact that two of the three editors are directly involved in zoo work is some indication of the central role zoos now play in the conservation of tigers – and, of course, many other species as well.

Nicholas Gould

FORAGING FOR SURVIVAL: YEARLING BABOONS IN AFRICA by Stuart A. Altmann. University of Chicago Press, 2000. xii + 610 pp. ISBN 0–226–01595–5 (cloth) or 0–226–01596–3 (paper). £49.00 or $70.00 (cloth); £28.00 or $40.00 (paper).

The behaviour and ecology of baboons have now been studied for decades. Being large, able to habituate readily to field workers, and living in social groups in open savannas and similar habitats, it is not surprising that baboons are so familiar to us. Yet there is still much to be discovered, including continuing disputes as to how many species there are.

Stuart Altmann takes primatological field studies to another level of detail and exactitude by recording from weaning to adulthood (where appropriate!) the development, diets and eventual reproductive fitness of eleven yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. This extraordinary study is set against the background of major environmental changes during the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in a higher water table, fewer fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea), and a reduction in baboon numbers of 95% in only five years. It had been suggested that a decline in available food led to this population crash.

Altmann decided to look at this in more detail to see what weanling baboons ate and how this varied between individuals. Baboons eat a wide variety of food types, and Altmann has suggested that this may in part be aimed at achieving a balance between the different kinds of nutrients and toxins each food type contains, as well as reflecting the abundance or patchiness of the food in the environment and through the seasons. He also poses the question as to whether the baboons' diets are optimal and by what criteria. Finally, he looks at the consequences of varying diets on the reproductive fitness of the individual baboons.

The main part of the book involves a detailed analysis of baboon diets, which as weanlings included 277 food types. Altmann then develops a model that considers various optimal diets for baboons, which is compared with the real data from the eleven youngsters. Rather than trying to model the empirical data for each baboon, Altmann models what is optimal based on a variety of criteria and then sees how far an individual's diet diverges from those optima. This comparison showed that yearling baboons were easily getting enough energy, fat, water, fibre and protein from their diets, but that the mineral content was slightly lower than needed, and this may have led to some of the youngsters suffering from mineral deficiencies. The remainder of the book deals with the effects that an individual's diet has on its fitness and offers Altmann's thoughts on what makes an optimal omnivore.

This book is a model study for those looking at the diets of wild mammals, and will provide much food for thought when considering captive diets, even for indestructible species such as baboons!

Andrew Kitchener,

Department of Zoology,

Royal Museum of Scotland

LEBENDE FOSSILIEN – OLDTIMER DER TIER- UND PFLANZENWELT, ZEUGEN DER VORZEIT by Erich Thenius. Pfeil, Munich, 2000. 228 pp., c. 100 illus., hardback. ISBN 3–931516–70–9. DM 28.00 (c. £9 or US$13).

RIESENKRAKEN UND TIGERWÖLFE – AUF DER SPUR MYSTERIÖSER TIERE by Lothar Frenz, with a foreword by Jane Goodall. Rowohlt, Berlin, 2000. 255 pp., illus., hardback. ISBN 3–8734–390–0. DM 29.80 (c. £9.50 or US$14).

Living fossils, it's presumably safe to assume, are among the more attractive of zoo animals. They look `funny'. An okapi or tapir or giant salamander may not do much in his or her enclosure, and many, such as echidnas and kiwis, usually can hardly be made out in the nocturnal house, but their unique features alone lead visitors to stop and stare and comment on them before going on to enjoy more active animals. (For insight into what visitors make of tapirs, see Stefan Seitz's article `In the name of the tapir', I.Z.N. 47:3, 148–160.)

Charles Darwin, Erich Thenius reminds us in his excellent review of living fossils, first coined the term over 140 years ago for forms `which, like fossils, connect to a certain extent orders now widely separated in the natural scale.' He was thinking of the platypus, for example, as a `link' between reptiles and higher mammals. Thenius defines living fossils as animals and plants isolated in the phylogenetic tree, the last survivors of once widely spread taxa now limited to relict or at least heavily shrunken habitats. Primitive features show one that living fossils have hardly changed over millions of years, compared to their closest relatives.

Thenius is a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Vienna, well established not only in academic circles but as a popularizer of natural history. His first, albeit short (88-page) book on living fossils was published over 35 years ago. His new work is as fine an introduction to the subject as one could hope for, complemented by good photographs, drawings, maps and graphics. His style of writing won't get him into journalism, but if one's German is reasonably good, one shouldn't have a problem working one's way through Lebende Fossilien. Thenius's generous use of Latin and scientific terms will help.

Lothar Frenz is a journalist, although one with a solid college background in biology. Riesenkraken und Tigerwölfe (Krakens and Thylacines) is one of the best-written books on cryptozoology I've ever come across, certainly the best book on the subject ever published in German. (Admittedly, that of itself means little.) He too has much to say on living fossils: the okapi is the heraldic animal of the International Society of Cryptozoology, and the coelecanth one of its most viable `pieces of evidence'. Frenz begins his book with an introduction to Bernard Heuvelmans, the Belgian `father of cryptozoology', and to the science, if I may call it that, of `hidden animals'. By way of convincing the perhaps sceptical reader of the legitimacy of cryptozoology, a chapter on the giant squid, Architeuthis, follows. Whereas Heuvelmans devoted two books and over 1,200 pages to giant cephalopods and giant sea-serpents alone, Frenz offers only three chapters and less than 40 pages on them. That, however, is probably as much as most curious members of the public would care to read. The rest of his book is a potpourri of recent discoveries such as those of the Indonesian coelecanth and the remarkable `new' ungulates of Indochina, and favourite old legends like those of the yeti and orang-pendek.

Frenz's book has only two serious drawbacks, once one has appreciated its brevity: it has no index and provides no sources. It's published within a series called `Books for the Next Generation'. It might well be that the next generation cares largely for the fast read; members of mine would still like to have at least an inkling of where a writer got his information. I happen to know Frenz quite well, and can vouch for the fact that he's no sloppy researcher. Nevertheless, a bibliography or at least a list of recommendations for further reading would have been a good service to the reader. What can be said of both Frenz's and Thenius's publishers is that both books are excellent value. It is seldom indeed that one comes across books in Germany as nicely bound and printed as Lebende Fossilien and Riesenkraken und Tigerwölfe that cost the equivalent of less than ten pounds each.

Herman Reichenbach

BATS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA by Frank J. Bonaccorso. Distributed by University of Chicago Press for Conservation International, 2000. 492 pp., paperback. ISBN 1–881173–26–7. £28.00 or $40.00.

Bats almost certainly rank as the most overlooked group of mammals. Our knowledge of them and our interest in them is tiny when one considers the number of bat species to be found across the world. It is therefore to the credit of Conservation International that, following on from their field guide to the lemurs of Madagascar, they have chosen to focus on the bats of Papua New Guinea for the second of what will hopefully prove to be a long and successful series.

One way to gauge the success of an esoteric book such as this is to consider how well able it is to excite interest in a subject to which one hasn't previously given a great deal of thought. By that criterion Bats of Papua New Guinea works well. Bonaccorso writes with authority and enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm rubs off on the reader. And when one is listening to or reading someone who really knows their subject, even a topic as apparently unpromising as this can be quite fascinating.

Papua New Guinea's many bats are highly important. With 80% of the country's original forest still remaining, the bats play a vital role in dispersing fruit tree seeds and controlling insect populations. They are also a good source of protein for the local people and a cultural icon: bats feature heavily in Papua New Guinean art. There are some truly fascinating species here: why, for example, have so many male masked flying foxes (Pteropus capistratus) been recorded with fully developed mammary glands filled with milk? It is the masked flying fox, incidentally, which adorns the book's cover, and a truly beautiful animal it is. It is not difficult when reading this book to see just why Mr Bonaccorso has devoted his attention to such an extraordinary group of animals, even if, at first glance, they might not seem to be the most captivating of subjects.

Each of Papua New Guinea's 91 bat species (9% of the world's total) is fully described, with geographical range, natural history, status and appearance all covered. For most – but, disappointingly, not all – of the species there are colour plates. Bats must surely be amongst the most difficult of animals to photograph, but even so it might have been nice to see a photo or two of the bats in their natural habitat. But these are minor gripes: the field-guide is well organised and covers its subject in just about as much detail as might reasonably be expected.

For many of the species included, information is scarce, and thus in several cases conservation status has had to be guessed at. Even so, there are inevitably many species whose position is precarious, and Bonaccorso suggests that captive breeding might well be the answer for some of the more vulnerable, such as the Bougainville's fruit bat (Pteralopex anceps) – a large and splendidly woolly animal. In view of the success that has been achieved with breeding Rodrigues fruit bats and, more recently, Livingstone's fruit bats, and the popularity of well-thought-out bat exhibits in zoos (I can whole-heartedly recommend those at Bristol and Drusillas Zoos, both of which are quite outstanding), there is no reason why zoos shouldn't be able to play their part in conserving this wonderful group of mammals.

John Tuson

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A model for future releases of Puerto Rican parrots

Formerly abundant throughout Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata) is now considered one of the ten most endangered birds in the world. Currently, there exists only one wild population of approximately 35–40 individuals in the Caribbean National Forest of eastern Puerto Rico. In addition, two captive populations totalling around 105 birds are currently held in separate aviaries in Puerto Rico. The primary function of these captive populations is to provide a sustainable source of parrots for release into the wild to bolster the current wild population, as well as for eventual re-establishment of a second wild population elsewhere in Puerto Rico.

Captive-reared Puerto Rican parrots were previously released in the Caribbean National Forest in 1985. However, the small number (three individuals) released was insufficient to evaluate viability of the technique. A similar release of 18 captive-reared Hispaniolan parrots (Amazona ventralis) was conducted in the Dominican Republic in 1982, but was also inconclusive.

From 1997 to 1999, we released 49 captive-reared Hispaniolan parrots in Parque Nacional del Este, a 42,000 ha area of subtropical dry and moist forests in south-eastern Dominican Republic. Each bird was radio-transmittered and monitored for up to one year to determine survival, movements and habitat use. Our goal was to develop a release strategy for Puerto Rican parrots and gain insights about potential survival of released birds. The intrinsic demographic and genetic value of captive Puerto Rican parrots for the recovery of the species precluded their use during the developmental phase of a release strategy. We used Hispaniolan parrots because they are the closest relatives of Puerto Rican parrots, are not critically endangered, and have been used successfully as surrogate parents for Puerto Rican parrots. Their value as a biological model for Puerto Rican parrots was enhanced because the released parrots were reared in the same aviaries as Puerto Rican parrots destined for future releases in Puerto Rico. Finally, because Hispaniolan parrots are native to the Dominican Republic, the releases were conducted there in order to release parrots in historical occupied habitat, and to avoid exacerbating the problem of introduced exotic psittacines in Puerto Rico.

The parrots were released from four separate cages which were also used as on-site training and acclimation facilities. Measuring 3.6 m ΄ 1.5 m ΄ 2.1 m high, each cage contained four parrots and provided space for flight. Cages were suspended approximately two metres above ground level. The birds were acclimated on-site for a minimum of 40 days, during which they were exposed to a wide variety of locally occurring native foods. Use of cultivated agricultural products was avoided, as the objective was to accustom parrots only to those species they would later encounter within the study area and to minimize the possibility that they would become local crop depredators. Each parrot was also equipped with a `dummy' radio-collar of the same weight (11 g) and configuration as the actual radio-transmitter in order to accustom them to the device before release. They were also subjected to an exercise program (e.g. forced flight) in an effort to maintain or increase flight stamina and ability. Approximately two to three days before release, each parrot was given a complete veterinary examination and functioning radio-transmitters were attached. On release days, cages were opened before dawn and the birds allowed to exit at will.

Of the 24 parrots released during 1997, five died within five days of release, and five more died shortly after onset of the dry season. Another two fell victim to hawk predation. In contrast, none of the 25 parrots released in 1998 died within five days of release. In fact, birds of the first 1998 release (29 June) had already survived for ten weeks when Hurricane Georges hit the park on 22 September.

Two modifications to pre-release training and conditioning protocols may have contributed to differences in early survival. During the 1997 releases, we felt that the parrots did not exhibit good flying skills. Thus, we subjected 1998 birds to a more rigorous exercise routine, and median keel scores (index of flight muscles) increased significantly. The second modification consisted of reducing blood samples collected 2–3 days prior to release in 1998 (i.e. 1 instead of 2 cc per bird) or not collecting a sample at all. Although parrots can replace 2 cc of blood within 3–7 days, it is possible that birds released in 1997 were weaker when released than birds in 1998.

Our work sheds light on the importance of timing of release. We found that survival rates measured over the dry season were higher for birds released in October than in December. A plausible explanation may be that birds released in October had a longer opportunity to exploit higher levels of food availability, which is greater during late summer–fall (rainy season) than during winter–early spring (dry season).

These results were incorporated into the pre-release training and acclimation of Puerto Rican parrots scheduled for release during the summer of 2000. For example, on-site acclimation cages in Puerto Rico have an internal volume twice that of cages used in the Dominican Republic. This allows additional flight space per bird and facilitates maintenance of flight ability and stamina prior to release. Birds will be subjected to forced flight training at least as frequent and intensive as during 1998 pre-release training in the Dominican Republic. Pre-release physical exams will be conducted 5–7 days prior to release, and blood samples will be limited to 1 cc per bird. Finally, predator aversion training will be conducted using a live red-tailed hawk while birds are housed at the actual release site. We hope that these modifications will aid in reducing or eliminating early, post-release mortality.

Abridged from Thomas H. White, Jaime A. Collazo, Francisco J. Vilella and Simon Guerrero in Re-introduction News No. 19 (November 2000)

Captive-bred swift foxes released in Montana

The Cochrane Ecological Institute (CEI) is committed to the preservation of North America's biodiversity through the conservation and breeding of endangered indigenous species, ecosystem restoration through the reintroduction of extirpated flora and fauna, rehabilitation and release of injured or orphaned wildlife, education and involvement of the public in conservation goals, and the monitoring of habitat and species through the development of non-intrusive survey methods.

Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) are bred in naturalistic enclosures at CEI and the offspring are released into the wild. From 1983 to 1997, 841 captive-bred foxes were provided for release to the wild in Canada (see Smeeton and Weagle, 2000, for more information on this release project), and more recently foxes have been sent to the U.S.A. for release onto the Blackfeet Tribal Lands in Montana.

This latter programme began in 1998 and is a three-way partnership between the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department, the CEI and Defenders of Wildlife. The third release of 31 captive-bred foxes took place in August 2000. This makes a total of 76 swift fox individuals that have now been reintroduced onto Blackfeet Tribal Lands, representing the return not just of a species but also of a spiritual and cultural icon to the Blackfeet tribe.

There are currently 24 radio-collared foxes, which include the six survivors of the eight collared individuals released in 1999. A number of dens and cubs have been also been observed. A protocol for breeding and releasing swift fox will be described in an article now in preparation.

This project has also been very successful because of the favourable publicity it has received amongst the Blackfeet Nation. It is an excellent example of the successful reintroduction of a small captive-bred canid.

CEI has a zoo licence from the province of Alberta. We welcome collaboration with captive-breeding institutions, particularly for behavioural research and the development of non-intrusive field survey methods. Graduate students currently engaged in research at CEI are collecting data on swift fox vocal communication and the development of a swift fox hair trap for use in the field.

If you are interested in collaborating with us or would like further information, please contact Siân Waters at

Clio Smeeton and Siân S. Waters,

Cochrane Ecological Institute,

P.O. Box 484,

Cochrane AB,

T0L 0W0 Canada

(Tel.: +1–403–932–5632; Fax: +1–403– 932–6303; Web site:


Smeeton, C., and Weagle, K. (2000): The reintroduction of the swift fox Vulpes velox to south central Saskatchewan, Canada. Oryx 34: 177–179.

The EAZA Bushmeat Campaign

The EAZA Bushmeat Working Group, chaired by Dr Bryan Carroll (Bristol Zoo, U.K.), was initiated during the EAZA annual conference in Basel in September 1999. During this meeting, alarming film material on illegal hunting and the trade in bushmeat, produced by CNN in cooperation with Mr Karl Ammann, was shown to some 100 European zoo directors. Consequently, it was decided that EAZA should get involved in the bushmeat issue in order to help fight the devastating consequences of this commercial and often illegal trade.

During its first meeting in April 2000, the working group decided to launch an EAZA Bushmeat Campaign based on its mission: `To develop and implement an action plan for EAZA zoos to contribute to resolving the bushmeat crisis.'

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) has currently over 250 member zoos in 34 countries in Europe and the Middle East. Consequently, the working group developed its campaign based on the concept of reaching out to the 125 million people that visit one of these zoos on an annual basis. The EAZA Bushmeat Campaign, which will focus on the African bushmeat crisis, is three-fold:

1. Educate zoo visitors on the bushmeat crisis by means of an awareness campaign/exhibition.

Member zoos participating in the EAZA Bushmeat Campaign are encouraged to organize an education exhibition to increase awareness among the European public. Zoos are free to decide in what way they would like to set up this exhibition. EAZA has provided all members with an information package including sample education panels, a CD-ROM with bushmeat photos, and fact sheets on bushmeat that may be of help.

2. Run an international petition campaign against the illegal bushmeat trade.

Signatures against the trade will be collected in the form of a petition. EAZA aims to collect at least one million signatures. The petition is directed towards the leaders of the relevant African countries to encourage them to take action against the bushmeat trade. The leaders will be asked to ensure that wildlife protection laws are enforced and that wildlife management resources are used in a sustainable way for future generations. Additionally, the petition is directed towards representatives in government (both on the national and European Union level) who will be requested to use their offices to ensure that leaders of these African countries are strongly encouraged and supported in their efforts to eliminate the illegal bushmeat trade.

3. Raise funds to support bushmeat-related projects.

The third part of the EAZA Bushmeat Campaign is to financially support existing bushmeat-related projects. A great number of both animal-welfare and conservation organizations are currently involved in many miscellaneous projects concerning the bushmeat trade. Therefore, the EAZA Bushmeat Working Group has decided to select a number of the existing projects that are well-known to one or more of the members, and which would benefit from financial support.

The EAZA Bushmeat Campaign was officially launched at the EAZA annual conference in Aalborg, Denmark, on 24 September 2000. Throughout one year, EAZA member zoos can participate in the campaign and develop their own bushmeat exhibitions based on the conditions, ideas and suggestions provided in the EAZA bushmeat information package.

Furthermore, in most European countries a national coordinator has been appointed. These coordinators form the link between the EAZA Executive Office and that country's zoos.

These persons can help with the translation of materials (e.g. petition, information board), deal with national media attention, collect completed petitions and provide additional information. The Campaign will end at the EAZA annual conference in Prague, the Czech Republic, on 23 September 2001.

Drs. Corinne Bos,


EAZA Bushmeat Campaign,

EAZA Executive Office,

c/o Amsterdam Zoo,

P.O. Box 20164,

1000 HD Amsterdam,

The Netherlands

Tel.: +31–20–520– 0753;

Fax: +31–20–520–0754;



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New mammal longevity record

The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) can live to an age of well over 200, making it by far the oldest mammal and perhaps the longest-lived creature in the world, a study has discovered. A new technique developed by Jeff Bada of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego makes use of the fact that many marine mammals, including bowhead whales, have spherical lenses which help them to focus under water. These lenses are constructed rather like an onion, with layers of protein that are laid down gradually, and which can be used to estimate the animal's age.

Craig George, a marine biologist from Alaska who has been gathering anecdotal evidence of the longevity of bowheads for many years, had access to the frozen remains of 48 whales killed by Inuit hunters between 1978 and 1996, but no accurate way of testing them for age. Last year he sent samples of the eyes to Dr Bada. When they were tested, four of the whales were confirmed as being well over 100, while one was aged at 211.

The findings have surprised many researchers. Organisms do not generally live much beyond the age at which they continue to be reproductively active, because there is no evolutionary advantage in doing so. Some experts suggest that there must be a social purpose for the bowheads' long lifespan, in that it enables them to pass on their acquired knowledge of the marine environment to other whales.

Breeding the Cuban racer

The racers, snakes of the genus Alsophis, are found in the West Indies and on the Galapagos Islands. Little is known about their biology, and only after the endangered status of the Antiguan racer (A. antiguae) became known did the interest in these snakes increase somewhat. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust started a breeding programme for the Antiguan racer, but although the species was bred successfully at Jersey Zoo (see I.Z.N. 44:3, p. 159), the project was not an overall success. Moreover, the records of other zoos for this genus are limited and not very successful.

In private collections, too, the genus Alsophis is almost unknown; but luckily some specialists have worked with these snakes, and one of them is the German herpetologist Petr Kliment. He started his breeding attempts with the Cuban racer (A. cantherigerus) with four (1.3) animals, and these were housed singly in enclosures measuring 0.6 m ΄ 0.3 m ΄ 0.2 m. The day temperature was kept between 25° C and 35° C; at night, it dropped to 17° –22° C. Already in the first season one female laid 34 eggs, but because this female had been imported only shortly before, these eggs failed to hatch.

In nature racers are known to feed mainly on reptiles (especially lizards) and amphibians, but the adults in Mr Kliment's collection were fed mostly on mice, with some rats and occasionally sparrows. After the animals had settled well into the captive conditions, they were given a resting period of one month in darker surroundings and at lower temperatures (between 15° C and 18° C). After this, they were all placed together in a larger vivarium (1.05 m ΄ 0.6 m ΄ 0.45 m), and a month later the first matings were seen. Over the next 40 days the male mated with all three females. After mating had stopped, the animals were again housed singly, and all three females produced eggs, respectively 24, 32 and 31. The eggs were incubated on vermiculite at a temperature of 29° C (± 1° C). After about 85 days, 82 of the 87 eggs hatched; on average, the young measured 24.7 cm and weighed 4.6 g.

Although food was offered, the young refused to eat, and after a month force-feeding was started with new-born mice, guppies and strips of ox-heart. After four to six months they all started to take food for themselves.

A year later no rest period was given to the snakes and only two females laid eggs (24 and 35). The clutch of 35 was completely infertile, but 22 young hatched from the other clutch and were raised in the same way as the young of the previous year.

It appears that, given enough attention, Alsophis can be bred very well in captivity, but because they need a certain amount of `intensive care' – especially when raising the young – I guess that it's not a genus to be kept in `normal' zoo collections. As pointed out before (de Ruiter, 2000), private keepers – in cooperation with zoos – can help a lot in conservation breeding programmes. Many subspecies of the Caribbean Alsophis species have very limited ranges (one or a few islands), so the more experience that can be acquired, the better it will be for future breeding programmes.

Maarten de Ruiter,

Pr. Beatrixstraat 9,

4793 CV Fijnaart,

The Netherlands


Kliment, P. (1993): Ein Beitrag zur Biologie der Kubanischen Natter (Alsophis cantherigerus Bibron, 1840). Sauria 15 (4): 27–31.

de Ruiter, M. (2000): Letter to the editor. International Zoo News 47 (2): 107–108.

Indian wildlife greeting cards

Most readers of I.Z.N. will know something of the enormously valuable work done by Zoo Outreach Organisation (ZOO) in India and elsewhere in southern Asia. ZOO now supports the new South Asian Zoo Association for Regional Cooperation (SAZARC) by serving as its administrative office. From this office they will ensure that a regular newsletter comes out for the association, and that the members in all South Asian countries that have zoos (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India) receive publications and information that will enable them to improve their management. ZOO will be doing this for two years while the association gets organized, registered and generally up and running.

ZOO recently issued a very attractive set of 12 greeting cards depicting South Asian animals (tiger, lion-tailed macaque, sangai or brow-antlered deer, pale hedgehog, Asian painted bat, great hornbill, hoopoe, Asian chameleon, Malabar gliding frog, sweetlip fish, hedgehog seahorse and Tamil lacewing butterfly). All profits from the sale of these cards will go to ZOO's increasing list of projects. The cost per set (12 cards) for overseas orders is US$12 or £8 including airmail postage. (Cheques should be made out to Zoo Outreach Organisation.) ZOO also produce black-and-white cards and screen-printed t-shirts. Orders and enquiries should be sent to: Zoo Outreach Organisation, Box 1683, 79 Bharati Colony, Peelamedu, Coimbatore 641004, Tamil Nadu, India.

New kiwi dietary supplement

Over the past 12 months, the Westshore Wildlife Reserve, New Zealand, has spearheaded the development and production of a new Kiwi Vitamin Premix. This will replace the seriously outdated formula currently in use elsewhere in many kiwi facilities. The old formula was originally designed 30 years ago and ironically is no more than a modified cat formula. In the development of this supplement, the entire chemical spectrum was critically analysed and constructed to be specifically more applicable to the dietary needs of kiwis. Trials on all kiwis held at the reserve indicate that the new formula is extremely successful. Issues such as palatability, ease of mixing into artificial diets and improved growth rates in chicks appear to be some of the primary benefits to date. The premix powder is available from Westshore Wildlife Reserve in vacuum-sealed 500-g foil bags for ease of handling and extended shelf life.

Tony Billing in ARAZPA Newsletter No. 49 (February 2001)

Newly-discovered mammal proved non-existent

Pseudonovibos spiralis, one of the `new' Indochinese mammals discovered in the 1990s, is a fake, according to French researchers writing in the magazine New Scientist (14 February 2001). The mammal, which gained enough scientific respectability to be formally described in 1994, featured in the latest edition of Walker's Mammals of the World, and even classified as endangered by the IUCN, was thought to be most closely related to the Central Asian gazelles (Procapra). P. spiralis was described solely on the basis of some unusual horns found in markets in Vietnam and Cambodia, which local people said belonged to large forest animals they called `linh duong' or mountain goat. The generic name was chosen because the horns had some resemblance to those of the kouprey (Bos (Novibos) sauveli) – though with hindsight `Pseudo- seems an ill-omened choice of epithet! Genetic and morphological tests have now revealed that the horns are simply cow horns that have been carved and twisted by local craftsmen; two genetic markers sequenced from the bony core perfectly matched the same markers in Vietnamese domestic cattle. And close examination of the unusual horns showed that they could not have been formed naturally – they had been heated, squeezed and carved into their unusual shape. But the horns are manufactured not to fool Western scientists, but to supply the trade in traditional medicines. Local people really believe in linh duong – it is said to eat poisonous snakes, and its horns are thought to contain an antidote for snake bites.

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Summary of the Annual Report 2000

In 2000 no less than 1.83 million people visited Burgers' Zoo. This is not only a record for the zoo, but also for the Netherlands; never in history has a Dutch zoo attracted so many visitors in one year. This 20% increase can easily be explained by the official opening of our fourth large-scale ecodisplay, Burgers' Ocean, on 7 April 2000. [For some details of this exhibit, see I.Z.N. 47:2, p. 114.]

Notable births in 2000 included 4.0.1 sun bitterns (Eurypyga helias) from five clutches from two pairs. Three offspring were parent-reared in the 13,500-m2 indoor rainforest ecodisplay, Burgers' Bush, the other two hatched and were parent-reared in the off-exhibit breeding centre. Also in Burgers' Bush, no fewer than 22 hooded pittas (Pitta sordida) were born. As London, Bristol and Chester Zoos want to initiate a breeding programme for this species in the British Isles, four birds were sent to the U.K. to add some new founders. As in 1999, the pair of anhingas produced two clutches with four offspring in total. A male anhinga was sent to Tierpark Berlin; but as it is very difficult to catch anhingas in Burgers' Bush, he is still waiting for a female. Other hatchings in the Bush include, among many others, nine speckled mousebirds (Colius striatus), four golden-fronted leafbirds (Chloropsis aurifrons), five black-capped babblers (Pellorneum capistratum) and one ashy tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps). Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Burgers' Bush, green iguanas hatched without any human interference; the eggs were incubated by the temperature of the Bush.

In Burgers' Desert, a three-acre [1.2 ha] indoor replica of the Arizona Sonora Desert, the ultramarine grosbeaks (Passerina brissonii) did very well, with four chicks; we also received seven confiscated birds from Antwerp Zoo. Also in the Desert, two turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were hatched and parent-reared.

In the bird department two Congo peafowl hatched from two clutches and were parent-reared. Unfortunately the second chick, a male, died, but the first, a female, is doing fine and will be placed in another institution upon recommendation of the EEP coordinator. After a five-year break, our pair of Sulawesi hornbills (Aceros cassidix) again produced an egg; the female incubated it and reared the offspring, while the male was continuously feeding her. But sadly, a couple of days before fledging the offspring died from an infection. Our two breeding pairs of white-tailed sea eagles produced a total of three chicks, of which two were sent to Israel to take part in a reintroduction project.

Almost 400 specimens were sent to other collections during 2000, over 350 of whom were born in Burgers' Zoo. The whole herd of eland, 22 in all, was sent to other zoos as part of our collection plan. It is foreseen that Burgers' Safari will be upgraded in the not-too-distant future, and as this species is in no need of conservation, and because it is getting more difficult to dispose of surplus animals, we decided to give up the eland in favour of a more important species.

We acquired a new baringo giraffe (G. c. rothschildi) male as successor of our present breeding male. It was almost impossible to find a new male, because there are not many pure baringo giraffes in Europe, and they are almost all related to our herd, as we have bred nearly a hundred in past decades, from which quite a number have been spread over Europe.

Other additions among mammals include a young female wart hog and an adult male bongo, both from Rotterdam Zoo.

Two remarkable species were added to the bird community of Burgers' Bush: northern green-winged king parrots (Alisterus chloropterus moszkowskii) from Walsrode Birdpark, a very colourful and attractive new species, and red-rumped cacique (Cacicus haemorrhous) from Bochum Zoo, Germany, a very noisy addition. Both species adapted well to their new environment.

We removed no less than eight species from our inventory list, as a result of the transformation of some breeding loan agreements into donations.

A final important event was the birth of a female blue duiker (Cephalophus monticola). Burgers' Zoo is the European studbook keeper for this species, as well as for aardvark, greater kudu and king vulture.

Marc Damen


Extracts from Help Newsletter No. 22

This was a dreadful year for everyone connected with the parks. The lingering death of John Aspinall was tortuous but expected, but the ghastly death of the Port Lympne elephant keeper Darren Cockrill was a terrible shock. John's eldest son Damian has taken on the mantle of chairman of Howletts and Port Lympne Estates Ltd, and he and John's brother James Osborne plan to further as far as possible the ideals John Aspinall stood for. In future the breeding programme of the two parks will be focused more concentratedly on animals that are endangered in the wild, and in particular ones that have a chance of being reintroduced, at the expense of the less rare species; for example, we will concentrate on Pallas cats while phasing out caracals, and European bison will have a priority over American.

John was too ill to go to California in May 2000 to accept in person the Zoological Society of San Diego's Conservation Medal. This was the first award of any kind bestowed upon him for his life's work, and the fact that it came from the U.S.'s most famous and prestigious zoological society gave him great pleasure. Just before John died he was also awarded the `Year 2000 International Conservation Award' by the Wilderness Conservancy in Los Angeles. In ten years this award has only been made four times. The citation reads: `In recognition of his achievement in the care and propagation of gorillas while in captivity and of qualitative release of select animals back into the wild. The methodology created and implemented by John Aspinall over a period of many years evidences his dedication to endangered and threatened wildlife conservation and justly entitles him to worldwide recognition.' Sadly, John was too ill to be aware of this final honour.


At Howletts, 19 infants were successfully parent-reared – two moloch gibbons, five Javan langurs, two banded leaf monkeys, two grizzled leaf monkeys, two black-and-white colobus, two white-faced sakis and four black-and-white ruffed lemurs. The moloch gibbon births were, as always, of great importance. One was particularly noteworthy as the first birth to a new pairing between a Howletts-born female and a Munich-born male, and also as the world's first ever third-generation captive birth of a moloch gibbon. The other offspring was born to our original breeding female, who caused some trepidation when she was discovered in labour, as she has had three caesareans in the past. Later that day, however, she successfully delivered another daughter. Earlier that same day, the first pure-born banded leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophos nobilis) was born at Howletts. The experienced mother was overly relaxed with her new arrival, and particularly at feeding times would leave her dependent son on his own, very distressed. A previously successful cooperative system of keeper `auntieing' was used during the early days, and later a mature daughter was reintroduced to ably assist with infant care-giving.

The major events of the year were the first births of grizzled leaf monkeys (Presbytis comata) in December 1999. Unfortunately the first infant born was dead, but our disappointment was relieved by a successful birth five days later, and a second live infant was born in early September 2000 to the previously unsuccessful mother. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first recorded births of this species in captivity; three births at London Zoo between 1912 and 1915 were incorrectly recorded as P. aygula (= comata), but were in fact capped langurs (Trachypithecus pileatus) imported from Calcutta, an identification backed up by photographic evidence.

A new pairing of sakis produced their first offspring, the 44th saki birth recorded at Howletts since 1977. The original breeding female is still alive at 27, which appears to be the longevity record for the species.

At 30 September 2000 the two parks housed a total of 67 (29.38) gorillas, seven (4.3) of whom were born since the last report. The matriarch Shamba, who arrived at Howletts in 1960 at an estimated two years old, died in October 1999. Three other females in Bitam's group are now around 40, so they are not as lively as they once were, but they still enjoy life, spending most of the day foraging for food or just lying around. They tend to retire to the sleeping dens around four o'clock, and little will then entice them out until morning. Months of construction and anticipation culminated in the move of Djala's group (4.7) from Howletts to Port Lympne on 6 June 2000. They are housed in what may be the largest gorilla enclosure in the world, `The Palace of the Apes'. Designed – mainly by John Aspinall – to accommodate up to 30 gorillas in one family, and based on all the successful elements from past gorilla buildings, the complex has some new ideas as well. The front of the outside enclosure is glass, and the wall of the garden enclosure has viewing windows along with a raised walkway that follows the top of the wall. These give unparalleled views of the gorillas in the garden, where there are a number of `hot-wired' trees, rocks and climbing apparatus. The outside enclosure is festooned with ropes and nets, contains a slide and a paddling pool and is on two tiers. Inside, as usual, no expense has been spared, and the indoor play area is covered with high-quality tiles, as are the 14 bedrooms.


In August 1999 the Barbary lioness (Panthera l. leo) Jade came into season and deserted her young cub; so we had no choice but to remove it for hand-raising. She had two more cubs in December and has raised them without problem. The hand-raised cub, a female, is to receive a mate from Rabat Zoo in Morocco. Our breeding pair of clouded leopards, Chiang and Thai, produced two (1.1) more kittens. They were sexed and vaccinated at eight weeks, and we were delighted to find that we had one male, Nanyo, and one female, Sulu. Both are in good health.

In December 1999 two male ocelots, Pablo and Santos, began to refuse food. They were offered a large variety of items, but nothing would tempt them, and all tests proved negative. After Pablo had been refusing food for about ten days he had deteriorated to a critical condition, so he was sedated and put on an intravenous drip, while 50 ml of liquidised rabbit was tube-fed into his stomach. To our surprise and relief he began to feed the following day. Although Santos's condition had not been as critical, we gave him the same treatment, and he too began to feed. Both cats were in separate enclosures with no contact, and their symptoms began one week apart. As Pablo was housed next to an older male who was not affected, we assumed the condition was not contagious. The only thing that connected both cases was the consumption of pigeon the day before; pigeons are known to build up toxins from the consumption of contaminated cereal crops etc., and over-indulgence can result in these toxins being passed on to the animals consuming them. Both cats made a full recovery, and after a four-month gap pigeon was reintroduced to their diet, but restricted to no more than one feed every seven to ten days.

In January 2000 a second pair of margays arrived from the Ridgeway Trust; they have settled well together, and we hope they will breed in 2001. Our original pair gave birth to our first margay kitten on 6 July 2000. Infra-red camera and 24-hour video have proved to be invaluable equipment, allowing us to monitor mating behaviour and infant development in this highly nocturnal species.

Breeding in African hunting dogs, dholes and maned wolves was less successful than in recent years, largely because of an outbreak of salmonella and campylobacter. A rusty-spotted cat at Port Lympne gave birth in August 1999 and again in April 2000, but neither litter survived overnight; we hope that in future camera surveillance in nest-boxes will enable us to learn why she loses her young. Successful births at the two parks included a desert cat, two fishing cats and three bush dogs.


Only one bongo calf, a male, was born this year; he was the last offspring of our bull Molo, who died late in 1999 from a viral infection. But the two new bulls have successfully covered eight females between them, so we wait in anticipation for mid-2001. Other births at Howletts were three (1.2) European bison, a female Brazilian tapir and a number of blackbuck.

Births at Port Lympne included 1.0 Eld's deer, 0.1 Malayan tapir, 0.3 American bison, 2.2 water buffalo, 0.1 banteng, 0.0.2 blackbuck, 0.0.2 hog deer, 0.0.3 sambar, and numbers of axis deer, barasingha and nilgai. No Przewalski horses were bred, as our bloodlines are over-represented.

The black rhino herd grew with the birth of a second male calf to Addo and Nakuru in October 1999. The following month Jaga, a seven-year-old female, arrived from Dvur Králové, and settled in quickly. After a couple of months, we introduced her to the male Baringo; they got on well for two weeks, until he suddenly attacked her so fiercely that she had to be rescued. She was then put in with two younger animals to restore her confidence, and we hope soon to try mixing her with breeding bulls again. There have been some serious health problems in the herd: a female calf born in November 1999 died in March, and the post-mortem showed a blockage of lucerne in her stomach. The 30-year-old cow Naivasha had a benign tumour removed from her leg and made a complete recovery. Naivasha's daughter Arusha, however, had a much more serious problem; she developed a nasty growth in her mouth, which was diagnosed by pathologists as a haemangiosarcoma – a particularly unpleasant form of cancer. Prognosis was deemed extremely poor. She was sedated seven times in three months over the summer for the tumour to be frozen and cut back, only for it to re-appear, sometimes within days of the last sedation. Eventually, however, it seemed to disappear, and at the time of writing we are cautiously optimistic. At 30 September 2000, our black rhino herd numbered 19 (7.12) animals.


There was no breeding in the Howletts African elephant herd this year. The calves from previous years are very healthy, though Jumar and Jassa, our three-year-old bull calves, both had to have surgery on their right tusks after breaking them and exposing the pulp chambers. Next year we hope to have access to another three acres [1.2 ha] of ground, which should allow us to breed more elephants and improve our facilities even further.

At Port Lympne, the year was overshadowed by the death of Darren Cockrill [see pp. 131–132 – Ed.]. Darren gave 100% in everything he did, adored his elephants and was a vital part of the team. He is sorely missed by us all.

The elephants from Rotterdam Zoo – three cows and two bull calves – have all settled in well, and two of the cows have been mated by Luka, though it is still too early to confirm any pregnancies. The two calves are now undergoing a regular training routine; they are already presenting their feet on a stool for foot care and lying down on command for us to examine them and wash them. Getting them used to these basic behaviours now, while they are only two years old, will pay dividends when they are adult, as lying down and being washed and having their feet trimmed will be quite normal to them.

Overseas projects

Thankfully, neither staff nor animals in our Congo gorilla project have fallen victim to the random acts of violence and rampant crime that have afflicted the Republic of Congo since the end of the last spate of fighting that erupted in Brazzaville in December 1998. This is primarily because we have retained our invaluable corps of bodyguards from the government armed forces, who enable us to pass unimpeded through the numerous barriers on the road between Brazzaville and the Lefini reserve, and to find fuel and other essentials on our supply trips to town. This predicament of relying on military forces to protect our team and charges is by no means something that we relish: non-profit conservation organisations cannot be seen to be partisan to any particular government. However, the reality of life in the field separates us from such noble ideals – either we stay with military backup and the gorillas have a chance to live, or we have to leave Lefini and the gorillas are likely to perish.

We lost two of the Lefini gorillas – a male, Kabo, died apparently from shock following injury in a fight, and a female, Loubomo, went missing after showing symptoms suggestive of concussion. An eight-month-old female arrived after being offered for sale to the wife of the French ambassador and subsequently confiscated by us. She was the only exception to the suspension of confiscations that we made last year in the light of the serious problem of overcrowding in the sanctuary. Because of the shortage of space for the various groups and the resulting aggression, we have been prospecting several new sites further north in the Lefini reserve; the most suitable would be some 20 kilometres north-west of the main camp, but it will need more prospecting and anti-poaching patrols before any move can go ahead.

As well as being home to the gorillas, the sanctuary is also inhabited by quite a number of other animals, most of which seem to be thriving, especially within the core of our protected area. Notable species include hippopotamus, forest buffalo, sitatunga, otter and duiker amongst the large mammals, and grey parrot, Egyptian goose, European stork and giant kingfisher amongst the birds. There is still a significant amount of hunting pressure from the local population, a problem that has been exacerbated by the influx of refugees from the former Zaire, where the war is still continuing. It is a great credit to our rangers, most of whom are from the local villages themselves, that the wild animal population is in such a good state despite these pressures.

At our other site, Mpassa in Gabon, the gorillas (currently 17 in number) are well on their way in the reintroduction process considering their young ages. In April 2000 the oldest seven broke the cage, releasing themselves. Two chose to sleep in the cage, but the other five began making nests in the forest. To expand the territory they are able to utilize at this point, we built a platform in the forest several kilometres from the old cage. After moving the group to the new platform, we have observed an increasing number of night nests. The animals are almost self-maintained with the exception of milk, which we still provide. In November 1999 we sent two young hand-reared Howletts-born males to Mpassa. After an eventful journey, they settled in well, but three months later, tragically, two-and-a-half-year-old Kwa-Kwa died of peritonitis as a result of a ruptured appendix. This was a hard blow for everyone involved, but in the greater scheme of things does not affect the ongoing work of reintroducing gorillas back to the wild.



Annual review 2000

In common with many British zoos, the gains of the spring and summer were largely washed away during an autumn and winter of unremittingly awful weather. Nonetheless, our visitor figures remained buoyant, with approximately 200,000 people entering the zoo during the course of the year.

There were no major construction projects this year, but several smaller improvements and renovations. Among these were the remodelling and enlargement of the otter enclosure and the mixed exhibit for raccoons and prairie dogs. As our raccoon population has increased (at the year's end we held a total of six), these notoriously recalcitrant animals have begun to show themselves rather more readily, and they now make for a good display. Their interaction with the prairie dogs – a new group of which arrived from Twycross Zoo – is also quite interesting to see: the rodents have learned to disappear quickly down their burrows when their cage-mates come sniffing around. Our Asian short-clawed otters, too, have clearly relished the extra space available to them, but they have unfortunately not yet rewarded us with youngsters. We also established a selection of invertebrate displays in a short tunnel – the `Bugs Tunnel', as it is not-altogether-satisfactorily known. This exhibit is not yet perfect and will require some further modifications.

The story which attracted the most interest during the course of the year was that of our lions. Through the summer Major, our male lion, showed a marked decline in his condition. As well as using conventional medicines, we attempted to cure him with homeopathic remedies, but without success. In August he was euthanased; subsequently the post-mortem showed that he was carrying feline spongiform encephalitis, the feline form of BSE. Press coverage of both his death and his BSE was extensive and largely sympathetic. On a happier note, in November a new male lion, Ronnie, arrived from Longleat Safari Park. Again, the press were very excited about an animal who amongst zoo people would merit barely a second glance.

Most new arrivals during the year were additions to established groups, amongst them capybara, crested porcupine and silvery marmoset. The only new mammal species to join us was very much at the smaller end of the spectrum: a group of Guenther's voles from Bristol Zoo is displayed alongside the invertebrates in our Bugs Tunnel. Even more diminutive were the many harvest mice which arrived from Chester as we continued to play a part in the breeding programme for these tiny rodents [see I.Z.N. 47:8, p. 524]. Several new bird species were added to the collection: lilacine amazon parrots (1.1, from Chester), little egrets (1.1, from Banham) and white-naped cranes (1.1, from Rode Bird Gardens). A pair of sacred ibis arrived from a private breeder and can now be seen in our walk-through aviary alongside two other ibis species – puna and scarlet. It is interesting to see the three species together and to be able to make comparisons between them. Among the birds joining established groups were Temminck's tragopans (1.1, from Paradise Park and Cotswold Wildlife Park).

Four veiled chameleons arrived at the zoo from Whipsnade; unfortunately the three females died, but the male continues to thrive. A pair of Kenyan sand boas came to the zoo on loan. They are currently off-show while we try to devise a way to present them which takes account of their habit of burying themselves in the sand.

Most of our mammalian breeding this year was amongst the primates, with three cotton-top tamarins and a silvery marmoset joining a female Sulawesi macaque on the list of births. Two female coatis and a mara were hand-reared after being rejected by their mothers; they have become very popular during our `Animal Encounters' sessions, but there will inevitably be challenges to be faced when they reach adulthood. The birds did not breed so prolifically, with a pied imperial pigeon, a Himalayan monal and a Humboldt's penguin being the most notable hatchings. As we seek to pair up some of our stock we can hopefully look forward to a more successful 2001. Rather satisfyingly, a pair of Children's pythons which arrived at the zoo several years ago after being confiscated by the RSPCA produced five youngsters.

The year saw the zoo's education programme expand, with a link-up with the nearby St Austell College. Two full-time courses are currently on offer, and it is hoped that they will train a large number of West Country students in animal care and management.

Amongst the enrichment which was developed during the year, a trampoline for our diana monkeys and a pulley system which enabled us to make meat `escape' from our pumas were both particularly successful. A regular rub-down for our pair of Brazilian tapirs was much appreciated by both the animals and our visitors: it was incorporated into our daily schedule of visitor talks, but also enabled our keepers to a close eye on Perpita, our female tapir, who we hope may be pregnant.

One of the more unusual aspects of Newquay Zoo is the wildlife rescue centre which is a part of the zoo hospital. Every year we see many injured local animals; the majority we are able to nurse back to health and return to the wild. This year was no different. About 70 hedgehogs passed through the hospital (including one near-albino animal which was found looking dazed and confused in Plymouth), along with, amongst many others, a shearwater which had been blown off course by a storm, cormorants which had become tangled up in fishing lines, and a buzzard.

Like many other zoos in Britain – and not quite so many elsewhere – Newquay is totally dependent on the money it receives through the gate. Future development is therefore dictated by events which are outside our control: one bad summer can leave us unable to make any of the changes we would like to make. In Cornwall, 2001 will bring further challenges, too, with the opening of the massive and much-hyped Eden Project – a botanical theme-park which has received many millions of pounds from the public purse. In order to survive we will need to continue doing what we do best: presenting an interesting collection of animals in attractive surroundings, and explaining to our visitors what makes those animals special.

John Tuson



Annual Report 2000

The year 2000 got off to a good start at Tierpark Hagenbeck with the birth on the very first day of the year of 0.1 South American fur seal. A year later, when staff took the inventory, she was still doing fine. Going into 2001, the Tierpark counted 2,495 animals representing 357 species – that's just three specimens more and one species less than the year before. The one species gone is gaur, sold off to a wildlife park in Spain. Their enclosure will be incorporated this spring into a larger `Central Asian steppe', home to Persian wild asses, goitred gazelles and Bactrian camels.

Over 30 species, mostly mammals and wildfowl, were successfully bred and (to date, knock on wood) reared at Hagenbeck. Among them may be mentioned 1.0 great red kangaroo, 0.2 African porcupines, 15 maras, 2.1 ring-tailed lemurs, 1.0 bonnet macaque, 1.0.1 hamadryas baboons, 7.6 South American coatis, 3.1 oriental small-clawed otters, 3.1 Siberian tigers, 0.2 Chapman's zebras, 0.2 Brazilian tapirs, 1.0 Reeves' muntjacs, 2.2 axis deer, 2.3 blackbuck, 1.0 springbok, 0.2 goitred gazelles, 2.5 aoudads and 2.1 tahrs.

Despite an unusually hot spring and then largely miserably wet and cold summer, attendance grew by 6.5%, from 770,000 in 1999 to 820,000 last year. Membership in the friends-of-the-Tierpark society, only established in 1998, almost doubled through 1999 to 1,091. Some 150 animals, mostly the cute and cuddly of course, found `foster parents' among the society's members. Over 10,000 Hanseatics (the preferable term in English, perhaps, for people from Hamburg!) purchased an annual pass last year.

Two new exhibits were completed in the year 2000, both in spring: a 360-m2 enclosure for North China leopards and a 4,000-m3 aviary for red-and-green (green-winged) macaws. An old enclosure for mandrills was converted in June into one for ring-tailed lemurs, offering the new inhabitants 220 m2 outdoors and 30 m2 indoors. No new construction is planned for this year, although beginning this autumn a car park will be built over the tracks of the underground railway adjacent to the Tierpark. An 8-metre-high (26-foot) bronze giraffe, the work of the widely-regarded Karlsruhe sculptor Stephan Balkenhol, will grace the site across the street from the underground station.

Two financial disappointments somewhat blemished the year for the family-owned zoo. As mentioned in last year's annual report (I.Z.N. 47:2, 115–116), Hagenbeck had hoped to sell a small corner to a health-care company that had planned to build a new hospital on the site. Although contracts were signed, the financing for the project evaporated and that scheme had to be buried. A second setback was the bankruptcy of Carmen 2000. Thirty-six private investors had leased a site within the zoo and put up a tent with 2,000 seats to produce a happy-end version of Bizet's most popular opera. Hamstrung by municipal bureaucrats, comfortable but flammable seats had to be substituted with camp-chairs – even those going for DM 250 (c. £80 or US$120). Worse, although the Hagenbecks are used to the local press eating out of their hands, most theatre critics were merciless. After less than two months of what was originally scheduled to be a four-month run, the producers were broke. None of this was any fault of Hagenbeck, really, and they wisely refrained from investing in the event themselves.

The Tierpark received better publicity with its contribution to the World's Fair in Hannover: as an outstation they erected a pavilion adjacent to the elephant house devoted to proboscidian natural history and conservation. Expo 2000, unfortunately, was a huge money-loser, and the Hagenbecks found themselves subsidizing completely the only officially sanctioned pavilion for which the World's Fair organizers later would not pay a Pfennig. The Indian elephant Thura, however, offered a consolation: at the end of 2001 Hagenbeck may expect her third offspring.

Herman Reichenbach

* * *


Basel Zoo, Switzerland

It was a big event when the new African bull elephant, Callimero, arrived from Rome Zoo on 12 October 2000. But the arrival was spectacular not only because 20-year-old Callimero is such a huge animal (3.2 metres high, weighing 6.6 tons!), but also because of what happened in the following weeks. Callimero immediately started to destroy his facilities and successfully damaged some gates and doors; furthermore he is very aggressive towards his new keepers. But maybe his behaviour is not surprising, if one remembers that he lived for over ten years at Rome Zoo on his own in a very small and boring enclosure.

Callimero is only at Basel on a temporary loan agreement; his final destination, in 2002, will be Beekse Bergen Safaripark, the Netherlands, where he will be joining five African cows when the new bull facilities there are ready. Meanwhile Basel temporarily has 2.5 African elephants, including a three- or four-year-old bull elephant and the 50-year-old cow Ruaha, the oldest African elephant in Europe.

Jürgen Schilfarth, European Elephant Group

Bronx Zoo (Wildlife Conservation Park), New York, U.S.A.

The zoo has three (2.1) Bulwer's pheasants (Lophura bulweri). Breeding success with this species in captivity has been universally poor, so the zoo's bird staff have been making concerted efforts to simulate the birds' natural habitat in order to promote mating. John Rowden, assistant curator of the Bird Department, has collected information through both research at the zoo and fieldwork in Borneo on the mating habits of Bulwer's pheasants. This has led to the finding that these birds use an `exploded lek' breeding system, meaning that the males will gather in the same general area and set up display arenas, while remaining visually isolated from one another. The key way males keep track of each other in this system is by vocalization, consisting of a loud, two-note call, performed during display. So in summer 2000, every day at one-minute intervals from 6.30 to 7.30 a.m. and 5.30 to 6.30 p.m., the zoo broadcast recorded male display vocalizations on the speakers of the park-wide audio system located within the pheasant aviary. These hours were chosen because Bulwer's pheasants tend to be more active early and late in the day. In addition to mimicking the bird calls, the department provides the pheasants with daily rain showers (they breed during the rainy season in Borneo) and dust baths. In attempting to recreate the pheasants' natural habitat in these ways, the zoo hopes to augment its collection of Bulwer's pheasants, as well as to expand general knowledge of how to successfully maintain a population of these birds in captivity. According to initial observations of the ongoing projects, both the males and the female increase their activity when the vocalizations are playing.

WPA News (November 2000)

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

The zoo is proud to announces that its female Sumatran rhinoceros, Emi, has completed her eighth month of gestation. In the next six to eight months, Emi is expected to produce her calf, an event that would be the most outstanding conservation achievement in the history of Cincinnati Zoo. The only record of a Sumatran rhino successfully breeding and producing a calf in captivity dates back 112 years to 1889 in Calcutta Zoo.

The potential significance of the coming event for a species on the very brink of extinction is profound. The Sumatran rhinoceros is considered the most endangered of all rhino species, and one of the most endangered mammalian species on earth. In the last ten years, more than 60% of the species' population has been lost; today, an estimated 300 animals are thought to exist in isolated pockets of Malaysia and Indonesia. To date, a captive-breeding program initiated in 1984 has unfortunately failed to produce any offspring, and the captive population has dwindled from 40 to just 16 animals. With so few left in the wild, it is absolutely essential to this species' survival that the captive-breeding program achieve success.

The challenges faced by animal managers trying to breed the Sumatran rhino in captivity have been numerous. Initial struggles included determining appropriate diets for maintaining health. Furthermore, when pairs were introduced for breeding, aggressive interactions often resulted, placing both animals at risk of serious injury. Eventually, there was just one male remaining in the U.S. This animal, Ipuh, is on loan from the Indonesian government to Cincinnati Zoo. Following the recommendations of the SSP, Los Angeles and Bronx Zoos moved their female rhinos to Cincinnati, where one final all-out effort to breed the species was launched.

Dr Terri Roth, Director of Cincinnati's Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), used ultrasound and hormone monitoring technology to learn about the reproductive cycle of the female Sumatran rhino. This knowledge and technology were then incorporated into the breeding program. This program has resulted in 23 matings between Ipuh and Emi with no injuries to either animal. Following the second successful mating in 1997, Emi became pregnant, and the zoo announced this pregnancy when the embryo was 29 days old. Unfortunately, this pregnancy was lost less than two weeks later. Emi has experienced pregnancy loss four more times, with all losses occurring within the first three months of gestation.

After much consultation at two international workshops attended by scientists and animal managers concerned about breeding this species, it was decided that the time had come to intervene. When Emi became pregnant for the sixth time, Dr Roth prescribed a daily dose of oral progesterone starting on the 16th day of pregnancy. This sixth pregnancy has now progressed to the eighth month, and the fetus appears to be healthy and growing. Although not much is known about gestation in this species, it is believed Emi has about eight months to go, and conservationists worldwide are becoming hopeful that, this time, she will carry the pregnancy to term. If successful, the event will become known among zoos as the most significant birth in more than a century and, hopefully, will be the turning point for the Sumatran rhino captive-breeding program.

Cincinnati Zoo is also involved in in situ work for this species. The zoo's Conservation Fund has helped the International Rhino Foundation support the Sungai Dusun Sumatran Rhino Conservation Center in Malaysia. Additionally, the zoo has provided keeper assistance to the reserve and has shared all its scientific knowledge regarding health and reproduction with animal managers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Says Roth, `We realize that this single birth will not save the species from extinction and that global conservation efforts are absolutely essential for preserving the Sumatran rhinoceros, but if successful, this birth will be the spark of hope that we all so desperately need.'

Abridged from a Cincinnati Zoo press release, 30 January 2001

Edinburgh Zoo, U.K.

The giant kidney worm (Dioctophyma renale) is native to the Americas and is a serious parasite, most commonly of the mink. However other carnivores are occasional hosts of the three-foot [0.9 m] nematode, and one in particular is the maned wolf. The life cycle of the worm includes both definitive host (maned wolves) and an intermediate host, an oligochaete annelid which may be ingested by certain predatory fish and frogs. Consumption of these prey items passes the parasite to the wolf. The larva finds its way through the gut wall, dines briefly on the liver and then migrates through the body cavity to the kidney, usually the right one. As the worm grows, the kidney becomes dysfunctional, the left kidney enlarging to compensate. One item in the wolf's diet is the loberia (Solanum lycocarpum), also known as the `fruit of the maned wolf'. Like so many other plant species from the neotropics, the loberia is believed to have key medicinal properties: in this case, consumption of the fruit counteracts the effects of – by a strange coincidence – the giant kidney worm.

Probably the greatest threat to this species, however, is the all-too-familiar one of habitat loss. Being shy and reclusive, maned wolves tend to move away from encroaching areas of human habitation. The wild population, which stretches from northern Argentina to the upper reaches of the Amazon basin, is believed to number only a few thousand and remains in decline. The European captive population stands at around 160 animals in 68 zoos, with between 30 and 40 pups born each year. However, births and successful rearing of young are so far restricted to only a few collections. Beyond Europe there are very well developed and managed programmes for the species in North America, Australia and, importantly, Brazil. Maned wolves last arrived in Edinburgh in 1993, but the pair was moved on again, to London Zoo, in 1999. Another pair has now joined the collection; the female, from Chester Zoo, is one-and-a-half years old, and her partner, aged one year, is from Krefeld Zoo in Germany.

Abridged from Rob Thomas in Arkfile Vol. 9, No. 4 (Winter 2000)

Gänserndorf Safaripark, Austria

In October 1999 the park sent its three female Burmese elephants to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in the U.K. on a breeding loan agreement. Port Lympne keeps two proven breeding bulls and has had some elephant births in the past, though unfortunately none of the calves survived. It was the intention to bring the two big cows La Grande and Momo (born in 1982 and 1985) back to Austria after a five-month stay, but to transfer the smaller cow La Petite (born 1985) permanently stay to Port Lympne and to integrate her into their herd, as she did not get along well with the two other Burmese elephants.

La Grande and Momo were mated twice by the 27-year-old bull Luka, and they returned to Austria on 19 March 2000. One of them, Momo, was pregnant and the pregnancy seemed to be running smoothly, so it was a real shock when she aborted a nine- or ten-month-old foetus on 10 December 2000. The reason for this is not clear (the post-mortem showed no results), but it seems that Momo has no health problems.

Meanwhile the Safaripark's new elephant house, built to be a rescue and rehabilitation centre to give the best possible care to physically and mentally damaged elephants, was nearly finished, and the park agreed to take over a female Asian elephant from a small German circus. The 24-year-old cow Citta arrived in August 2000 and brought some problems with her. She was sold by her owner, Mr Jacky Quaiser, because she is a human-imprinted elephant – more accurately, she is a one-man imprinted elephant, and this one man is Jacky Quaiser. And Mr Quaiser's children didn't want to keep the elephant in the future. Citta had been kept like a pet and is a very well-cared-for elephant, but she is also very dangerous. Several attempts to integrate her into different elephant groups in zoos and circuses brought the same result – no success and risks to the lives of the staff, because she started attacking the keepers and trainers. She showed the same behaviour at first in Gänserndorf, but with a lot of patience and dedication from the keepers over many weeks, she slowly gained confidence and is now much more relaxed. There are also some conflicts with the two resident cows, but fortunately they both dominate her.

The stay of the Gänserndorf elephants at Port Lympne was overshadowed by the tragic accident on 7 February 2000 when keeper Darren Cockrill was killed by an elephant. No one was present at the time and it is not known how the incident occurred, but it is assumed that he was killed by La Petite. This meant that her integration into one of the cow groups was stopped, although it was at an advanced stage. Port Lympne decided not to keep her any longer and started looking for a new place for her. In late spring 2000 she was mated by the 30-year-old bull Bindu, and there are some signs that she is pregnant now. Finally the Zoological Center Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Israel, offered to take her over because they can handle elephants in a zero-contact system. La Petite arrived there on 9 January 2001 and was mixed with the resident animals (2.3) shortly after arrival. Hopefully this will be her final home and she'll have a chance to take part in the reproduction of the species. But the episode highlights once again the lack of facilities which can keep potentially dangerous elephants in a no-contact system.

Jürgen Schilfarth, European Elephant Group

Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Six Komodo dragons hatched at Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii, on 15 September and 26 October 2000. This represents the first successful hatching of dragons from an F-1 dam. The zoo's young adult pair originated from the 1992 first hatching at the U.S. National Zoo. In 1998, the female laid a clutch of infertile eggs at the age of five-and-a-half years old, indicating the youngest age a female matures. On 8 January 2000, she laid a clutch of 14 eggs, and dropped five more over the next few days. Of the 12 eggs incubated, the first pipped on day 251 of incubation and the last hatched on day 292. An additional infant pipped but died before emerging from a molded egg. All the infants are being reared together and are on display in the Herpetarium.

AZA Communiqué (January 2001)

Madrid Zoo–Aquarium, Spain

Regarding the news published in I.Z.N. 47:7 (p. 460) about San Diego's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, Madrid Zoo–Aquarium, together with the Spanish Agriculture Ministry's research institute CIT-INIA, is also creating a frozen semen bank of exotic species. The aim of this bank is to create a genetic resource from endangered species with all the advantages that this involves; for this reason a study is being carried out to adapt the semen collection, evaluation and freezing techniques commonly used in domestic animals to the requirements of various exotic species. At present the bank consists mainly of samples from ungulates (Spanish ibex, European bison, ox (Bos primigenius), sitatunga, Barbary sheep, dorcas gazelle), but also includes samples from other species of mammal that are considered of some importance due to their actual genetic status (gorilla, cheetah).

Veterinary Service,

Madrid Zoo–Aquarium

Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

A Bali mynah chick hatched at the zoo on 3 December 2000 and was spotted flying around on New Year's Day. But on 26 January the chick's mother was found dead, most likely the victim of an attack by two laughing thrushes who have been in the exhibit for at least nine years. Zoo officials initially suspected the female's new mate, a rowdy newcomer who had once killed another prospective partner. But their suspicions shifted within days, when keepers found him on the floor of the exhibit pinned by the two thrushes, which were trying to kill him.

The attacks on the mynahs were probably disputes over territory. The thrushes are now to be moved in with an eclectus parrot, a much larger bird more capable of defending herself. The attack is also causing zoo staff to take another look at suspicious incidents that have occurred in the exhibit in years past. `We had a couple of incidents over the years where a bird was injured or died and we never had a good answer,' says bird curator Kim Smith. `These birds are very agile and sneaky. It's entirely possible that this has been going on for a long time and we never knew about it.'

Abridged from Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website (, 1 February 2001

Nuremberg (Nürnberg) Zoo, Germany

Nuremberg is one of only a few zoos in Germany which have bred cheetahs during the last few years. So we were very pleased when our female, Danni, gave birth to a litter of 2.2 cubs on 4 May 2000. But the most joyful surprise was that 0.1 of these cubs was a `king cheetah'. This variety differs in the partial replacement of the normal spots by dark bars; also, king cheetahs have longer and softer hair. This so-called `partial melanism' passes from both parents via a recessive gene.

This variety was not recorded in Europe until Wuppertal Zoo imported 0.2 from the South African National Zoo, Pretoria, in 1992 and 1993, and in 1993 Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich, also acquired king cheetahs, but neither collection bred them. Nuremberg, by contrast, never maintained an adult king cheetah, so the two parents must have the king cheetah allele. Danni comes from Pretoria, the first zoo to breed king cheetahs, where she was born in 1992. The father of the litter, Balule, was born at Wuppertal Zoo in 1993; he descends from two animals at Wassenaar Breeding Centre in the Netherlands, and therefore has no relationship to Wuppertal's king cheetahs.

It seemed we would have no problems with the rearing of the litter. One reason was that Danni is an experienced mother, having had her first cubs (0.3) in 1999. The enclosure is sited on the quiet periphery of the zoo area. On 29 May the cubs were sexed and weighed for the first time: the results were 1.0, 2,100 g; 0.1, 1,850 g; 1.0, 1,800 g; 0.1 (king cheetah), 2,150 g. But when they were 45 days old, the king cheetah fractured the radius of her right foreleg for unknown reasons. Under anaesthetic the fracture was X-rayed and a bandage was put on. The normal-coloured cubs were doing well, but at this time the king cheetah increased in weight more slowly than the others. At the beginning of July she weighed 3,800 g, while the others were 4,500 g (1.0), 3,850 g (0.1) and 4,150 g (1.0). At the end of July, the bandage was removed and the litter could be presented to the local press.

Much attention is focused on mutants of the big cats in zoos – melanistic leopards or jaguars and white tigers or lions. Now we have to ask the question, how far a self-sustaining stock of king cheetahs could be established. But we must consider very carefully whether we ought to add another variety to our stock of felids, and if we should systematically propagate unusually coloured specimens originating only from a coincidence in nature.

Benjamin Ibler

Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

When Belle, a female Asian elephant at Oregon Zoo (then known as Metro Washington Park Zoo), gave birth in 1962 to her only baby, Packy, it was the first elephant birth in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. Belle went on to help care for 26 other calves born at the zoo, serving as a role model for new elephant mothers and their babies. Now, four years after her death at 45 from a severe foot infection, Belle continues to serve the cause of captive elephant welfare; for her death has led researchers, zookeepers and veterinarians to pull together in an effort to prevent elephant fatalities and disabilities from foot disorders.

A year after she died, Oregon Zoo held an international conference about elephant foot care that drew 117 experts from 23 states, Canada, India and New Zealand. As a result of that conference, a new book, The Elephant's Foot, has been published by Iowa State University Press, giving elephant managers information that will help prevent and treat foot disorders. The book's subjects range from foot anatomy and nutrition to antibiotics and making protective sandals.

Researchers estimate that about half of captive elephants experience foot problems at least once in their lives. Most are minor ailments and easily treatable, but others are serious enough to cause death. `Foot problems constitute the single most important ailment of captive elephants,' writes Murray E. Fowler of the University of California at Davis, one of the book's contributors and a leading expert in elephant foot care. `More caretaker time is spent caring for feet than on any other task except feeding and cleaning.'

Belle was euthanized in 1997 after surgeons found that a bacterial infection called podermatitis, or foot rot, had advanced too far into her foot. A year earlier, a 33-year-old female also had to be euthanized because of the foot problem. Researchers are looking at several reasons why elephants are prone to podermatitis and other foot problems, including obesity, exhibit design, lack of exercise and the surfaces the animals walk on.

The zoo recently put new flooring in the elephant viewing area that is warmer and provides a softer surface to cushion the impact on the heavy animals' joints. Two layers of concrete flooring were demolished and a concrete floor with a rubberized surface, made from recycled tires, installed. The elephants show a preference for the new flooring and are occasionally found sleeping on it. Similar flooring will be extended to the rest of the elephant facility when any `bugs' have been found and remedied.

Two of the zoo's four female elephants also have cases of podermatitis that are being controlled, and one of the three males also has a minor foot problem. The zoo is working on each of the things that might cause foot problems, from flooring to exercise to diet. They accept that a cure may be an unreasonable goal at this point, because no one knows for certain what is the underlying cause of these infections. So they are treating the symptoms and probably not addressing fully the base cause. Meanwhile, the recommendations from the conference and the book have been placed in the master plan for the AZA's elephant SSP.

Abridged from Richard L. Hill on The Oregonian website (, 21 Feb. 2001

Perth Zoo, Western Australia

Hecla, a silvery (moloch) gibbon, gave birth to a healthy, strong male infant on 26 November 2000. The baby is doing well and is on display with his parents. Khusus, a five-year-old female, was sent to the International Center for Gibbon Studies in California in October. She is very important to the future of the captive population and will be paired with a male at her new home. It was time for her to leave as she was starting to be rejected by her family, and eventually there would have been aggressive interactions, which would have been likely to result in injury. She joins several other silvery gibbons at the Center, including Shelby, a male born at Perth Zoo, who was transferred to California in 1993.

Pamela Smith in ARAZPA Newsletter No. 49 (February 2001)

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

In a `first' in North American breeding history, the zoo has produced members of a cracid species by means of artificial insemination. The hatching of common piping guans (Pipile cumanensis), which occurred on 13 August and 19 October 2000, was the culmination of a five-year research project at the zoo which could help the reproduction of one of the most endangered and least studied families of birds in neotropical America.

Nineteen of the cracid family's 49 species are threatened with extinction. The large fowl-like birds occur in low numbers in the wild and take three or more years to mature. They reproduce at a very slow rate, perhaps one young per year for a pair of guans or curassows; this low reproduction rate makes them very vulnerable to habitat destruction and hunting.

St Louis has had cracids in the collection since 1978. Curator of birds Michael Macek, a member of the AZA Cracid TAG, has been successful in naturally breeding the common piping guan. `We selected this bird as a research model, because it already exists in captivity and is very similar to curassows,' he says. He and Dr Cheryl Asa, director of research at the zoo, were joined in the project by Karen DeMatteo, a doctoral student at St Louis University. joined the project. Macek and DeMatteo used 12 (6.6) guans for the study, with a goal of developing a technique for freezing guan semen. The process could provide a technique which would potentially serve as a model for the entire cracid family. The ability to store guan and curassow semen long-term would allow for future genetic exchange between captive and wild populations.

In the initial phase of the program, DeMatteo searched for an extender to optimize the survivability of guan semen. Once it was discovered that the semen would not survive overnight, the focus centered on developing techniques for freezing and thawing it. In the future, some thawed semen will be used to artificially inseminate female guans to ensure that freezing does not negatively impact fertilization. However, before this step was taken, artificial insemination with semen taken directly from the males, to ensure that the technique and timing were correct for the procedure, was accomplished in early July.

`Our subject female is the oldest at the zoo, about 20 years of age,' says DeMatteo. `She laid her first egg the day after I left for field research in Paraguay. I was thrilled when I returned to St. Louis to find that a chick had hatched.' The female's second egg was not fertile. She brooded both eggs naturally. `She's a good mother,' DeMatteo adds.

The next step in this project will be to succeed with artificial insemination using semen that has been frozen and thawed. After that, the zoo would like to establish a reservoir of frozen guan semen. Our long-term goal is to teach the freezing, thawing and artificially inseminating techniques to staff at zoos in Central or South American collections which have access to endangered wild cracid populations.

Abridged from Janet Powell in Zudus Vol. 15, No. 1 (January/February 2001)

Santago Rare Leopard Project, Welwyn, U.K.

Last year, after ten years of trying, we managed to breed the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). We had first noticed mating taking place on Boxing Day 1999. On 29 May 2000 we observed the female moving two cubs from one nest-box to another. For the first few weeks the male was left in with the female and cubs, as we felt removing him might cause stress to the female; he was eventually separated from her after seven weeks. One cub, a male, died from unknown causes at eight weeks, but the other, a female, survived and is still doing well.

We had previously installed two CCTV cameras to avoid intrusion whilst observing this very secretive species. The cameras were kindly paid for by sponsorship from the People's Trust for Endangered Species, and have proved invaluable to our breeding programme, enabling us to study the cats' behaviour and closely monitor the introduction of the male to the female. The pair we have are nocturnal, so all observations are carried out from dusk to around midnight, seven nights a week.

We recently exchanged our female cub at nine months old for an unrelated two-year-old female from Howletts. The breeding pair have now been reintroduced and have been seen mating again, five days after the introduction and eight days after the cub was removed. Hopefully this pair will produce cubs again this spring and provide us with a male cub, which can be paired up with the young female from Howletts, giving us two pairs.

Other breeding news: our female Persian leopard (P. p. saxicolor) gave birth to two (1.1) cubs on 14 May 2000, but these did not survive; our pair of snow leopards bred one female cub in 1997; we also keep 1.1 melanistic and 0.1 spotted leopards, and 0.1 puma (rescued via the RSPCA). We have another adult male clouded leopard on loan to London Zoo. Here at Santago we are private keepers, and not open to the public, but have visitors via our membership. We are an Accredited Associate of the Zoo Federation.

Peter James

News in Brief

Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, successfully hatched six Micronesian kingfisher (Halcyon c. cinnamomina) chicks last year. The Guam subspecies of this bird is extinct in the wild, mainly because of predation by introduced brown tree snakes. Even counting the zoo's new chicks, there are fewer than 70 of the kingfishers in the world; so Brookfield's success means almost a 10% increase in the numbers of these birds.

Zoo Views (Winter 2000)

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Two teenage boys were arrested on 28 December 2000 and charged with stealing two koalas from San Francisco Zoo. Leanne, aged seven, and her mother Pat, 15, went missing on the night of the 26th from the indoor enclosure that they share with five other koalas. Zoo staff feared that the incident might kill them, as koalas have no body fat and are extremely vulnerable to changes in climate and diet; but when the animals were rescued, though very hungry, they fortunately seemed to have suffered no lasting harm. The boys reportedly wanted to give the koalas to their girlfriends as belated Christmas presents.

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The birth of a killer whale has been captured on film at Kamogawa Sea World, Japan. Shortly before the birth, the female, Stella, was noticed swimming erratically, behaviour which indicated the first contractions; in all, the birth process took five hours. Afterwards, the Iceland-born father, Bingo, circled the mother and child protectively. Only one other killer whale birth has been recorded in Japan, also at Kamogawa; worldwide, there have been 40 known captive births of the species.

ITN website (, 9 Feb. 2001

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Ali, I., and Basistha, S.K.: Butterfly diversity of Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), pp. 264–265. [A survey of species living wild in the zoo grounds found 63 mammal species, 52 birds, 13 reptiles, and 72 species of butterfly (which are listed).]

Ananth, D.: Musth in elephants. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), pp. 259–262.

Benerji, K.N., and Pillai, K.C.: Reproductive behaviour of hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), p. 6.

Böer, M., Reklewski, J., Smielowski, J., and Tyrala, P.: Reintroduction of the European lynx (Lynx lynx) to the Kampinoski National Park, Poland – a field experiment with zooborn individuals. Part III: Demographic development of the population from December 1993 until January 2000. Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 304–312. [During a seven-year period 30 captive-born lynxes were released after spending an average of 192 days in an in situ adaptation enclosure. Thirteen individuals were found dead after a mean post-release lifespan of 271.5 days. Traffic accidents and contagious viral diseases of domestic dogs and cats, as well as poaching, are presumed to be the main anthropogenic factors negatively influencing lynx population growth. Five lynxes repeatedly preyed on domestic livestock and had to be recaptured; four released for a second time succeeded in hunting wild prey species. Six adult females reared pups once or repeatedly. Twelve distinct observations of independent juveniles were reported from all parts of the park. Following these reintroductions, a reliable minimum population of 19 lynxes, of which nine represent the wild-born filial generation, now exists in central Poland, and the project's next phase favours cessation of further releases and monitoring natural population development.]

Dolan, J.M.: A possible captive longevity record for Siberian musk deer, Moschus m. moschiferus. Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), p. 337. [A female born in Leipzig died at San Diego Zoo aged 14 years and ten months.]

Dowell, S., and Bo, D.: Eine hoffnungsvollere Zukunft für die Sichuan-Buschwachtel – Bericht über einen Besuch des Verbreitungsgebietes in Süd-Sichuan, China. (A more hopeful future for the Sichuan hill-partridge – a report on a visit to its natural range.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 16–17. [German, with English summary. A visit by the authors in January 2000 confirmed that a ban on logging in the upper Yangtze basin is being fully implemented. This is welcome news for the Sichuan hill-partridge (Arborophila rufipectus) and other associated species in its broadleaf habitat, as it puts an immediate end to the previously accelerating loss of habitat. Local forestry workers are being employed to replant some of the steeper slopes. Suitable plantations could provide valuable habitat corridors between blocks of original old-growth forest. The Wildlife Division has a long-term plan for the establishment of five new protected areas for the species.]

Farrell, M.A., Barry, E., and Marples, N.: Breeding behavior in a flock of Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) at Dublin Zoo. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 4 (2000), pp. 227–237. [This species' habitat is becoming increasingly vulnerable, and there is concern over a decline in wild stocks in the past two decades. Zoo breeding programs have had only limited success because little is known about the precise criteria and conditions required. The authors observed breeding behavior in a flock of 55 adults over a three-month period during the peak of breeding activity. A catalogue of mating rituals, nest acquisition and defense, and egg incubation behavior was obtained. The results suggest that new additions to the colony may trigger breeding in the subsequent year, and that rainfall has little effect on captive reproductive success. Individually identifiable flamingos were followed throughout the breeding season, and detailed quantitative data on their nesting, copulation and social interactions were obtained.]

Furrer, S., and Zingg, R.: Deutliche Hinweise auf geschlechtsspezifische Gewichtsunterschiede beim Rotstirn-Jassana (Jacana jacana). (Clear evidence of sexually-specific weight differences in jacanas.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 336–337. [German, no English summary; Zürich Zoo.]

Hebert, P.L., and Bard, K.: Orangutan use of vertical space in an innovative habitat. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 4 (2000), pp. 239–251. [The indoor habitat for three adolescent animals (at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Indiana) was innovative in two main ways: a flooded floor and retractable skylights. It included four large molded trees and interwoven vines throughout 1,620 m3 of space. The exhibit was divided into four vertical levels: skylights, upper canopy, lower canopy and flooded floor. Five trained observers made instantaneous scans of the exhibit every five minutes, in one-hour blocks of time over a ten-month period, logging 180 hours of observations. A total of 53 behaviors were grouped into five categories: solitary inactivity, solitary activity, social inactivity, social activity, and eating/drinking. Results showed the orang-utans favored first the upper canopy, which contained many tree limbs for sitting and reclining, and next the lower canopy and the skylights, especially those skylights that were out of public view. The flooded floor was avoided (they used it for just 1% of the time), as planned by the exhibit designers, who intended to showcase these arboreal primates in trees, not on the ground. Few atypical behaviors were observed (under 3% of the total), and overall the unique design of the habitat provided opportunities for a range of species-typical behaviors, and demonstrated the importance of providing sufficient vertical space for orang-utans.]

Krishnakumar, N., and Baskar, N.: Creating attitudinal and behavioural changes in zoo visitors. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 4 (2000), pp. 23–24.

Kuehler, C., Lieberman, A., Oesterle, P., Powers, T., Kuhn, M., Kuhn, J., Nelson, J., Snetsinger, T., Herrmann, C., Harrity, P., Tweed, E., Fancy, S., Woodworth, B., and Telfer, T.: Development of restoration techniques for Hawaiian thrushes: collection of wild eggs, artificial incubation, hand-rearing, captive-breeding, and re-introduction to the wild. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 4 (2000), pp. 263–277. [From 1995 to 1999, two species of endemic Hawaiian thrushes, `oma`o (Myadestes obscurus) and puaiohi (M. palmeri), were captive-reared and reintroduced into their historic range in Hawaii by the Peregrine Fund, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey–Biological Resources Division and the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources. The authors describe the management techniques that were developed with the non-endangered surrogate species, the `oma`o, and are now being used for recovery of the endangered puaiohi. In 1995 and 1996, 29 viable `oma`o eggs were collected from the wild, and of 27 chicks hatched, 25 were hand-reared and released. Then, in 1996–1997, 15 viable puaiohi eggs were collected from the wild to establish a captive breeding flock to produce birds for reintroduction. These puaiohi reproduced for the first time in captivity in 1998. Between 1996 and 1998, a total of 41 puaiohi chicks were reared in captivity. In 1999, 14 captive-bred puaiohi were reintroduced into the Alaka`i Swamp, Kaua`i. These captive-bred birds reproduced and fledged seven chicks in the wild after release. This is the first endangered passerine recovery program using this broad spectrum of management techniques (collection of wild eggs, artificial incubation, hand-rearing, captive-breeding and release) in which reintroduced birds have survived and bred in the wild.]

Lacy, R.C.: Should we select genetic alleles in our conservation breeding programs? Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 4 (2000), pp. 279–282. [`Loss of natural adaptations, random increases of deleterious traits, and expression of recessive alleles in inbred animals may be occurring more rapidly and with greater frequency in our [captive] populations than we might like. These problems can be minimized by using a reasonable number of founders, keeping adequate population sizes, and maximally retaining genetic diversity through the generations. Once genetic problems have arisen, however, they are not easily reversed. A strategy of artificial selection, or even allowing natural selection to work unchecked, will often exacerbate the problems it is intended to fix. Selection inevitably reduces the number of founders, reduces gene diversity, and ultimately, therefore, increases inbreeding. The lesson is that we should not expect small or poorly managed populations to remain genetically healthy for more than a few generations in captivity. We need more rather than less diligence in following strategies, such as minimizing mean kinship, that are effective and robust at maintaining genetic diversity, minimizing inbreeding, and preserving adaptations to wild environments.']

Lang, E.M., Meier, D., and Oppliger, D.: Siebente Backenzähne (4. Molaren) im Unterkiefer eines Afrikanischen Elefanten (Loxodonta africana). (Seventh back teeth in the lower jaw of an African elephant.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 295–303. [German, with very brief English summary. When the female Beira at Basel Zoo died aged about 48, she was found to have a fourth molar on each side of the lower jaw.]

Ludwig, W.: Bemerkenswertes Lebensalter bei einem Karakal (Caracal caracal) im Zoo Dresden. (Notable longevity of a caracal at Dresden Zoo.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), p. 338. [German, no English summary. The cat, a female, lived at the zoo for over 17 years and was about a year old on arrival.]

Mace, M., and Witman, P.: Propagation of the African open-bill stork, Anastomus l. lamelligerus, at the Zoological Society of San Diego. Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 285–294. [African open-bill storks inhabit aquatic habitats such as swamps and flood plains from Senegal to Sudan and Zimbabwe. The most prominent feature of this species is their extraordinary bill morphology. The mandibles meet at the tip but there is a considerable gap at the centre. The highly specialized bill is used to capture their diet, which consists primarily of snails and freshwater mussels. Open-bills will also consume frogs, crabs, worms, fish and insects. The prey is manipulated with the tip of the bill. The tip is inserted into the shell and the operculum is severed, releasing the mollusc from the shell. In studies conducted with Asian open-bill storks (A. oscitans), the birds have been found to produce a narcotic secretion in their saliva that relaxes the snails' muscles, making the task of extracting them from their shells easier. San Diego Wild Animal Park received 6.2 birds in February and March of 1990. The first recorded captive breeding of this species occurred at the park on 8 June 1994. A second generation was produced in 1996; at the time of conception the male was 16 months old and the female 14 months old. Both members of this pair were previously hand-raised individuals. The article gives details of the management and breeding of the species, and discusses possible reasons for the disappointingly limited success rate in raising chicks so far.]

MacLaughlin, K., Ostro, L.E.T., Koontz, C., and Koontz, F.: The ontogeny of nursing in Babyrousa babyrussa and a comparison with domestic pigs. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 4 (2000), pp. 253–262. [The nursing behavior of eight babirusa infants was studied at Bronx Zoo. Four were from single births and four from twin births. It was found that although twins are weaned earlier than single offspring, there were no other statistically significant differences in nursing behavior of single and twin offspring. Babirusa dams take longer to wean their offspring, allow them to nurse longer, and end nursing bouts less often than domestic pigs; these differences in behavior may be related to differences in the number of offspring produced by the two species and the amount of parental investment in each offspring.]

Mehrotra, P.K., Mathur, B.B.L., Bhargava, S., and Choudhary, S.: Mortality in gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) hatchlings at Jaipur Zoo. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), pp. 267–268.

Meier, G., and Wirth, R.: Neues vom Manipur-Leierhirsch. (News of the Manipur brow-antlered deer.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), p. 20. [German, with English summary. For the first time in 40 years, the two inbred breeding groups of this endangered subspecies (Cervus eldi eldi) at the zoos in Delhi and Calcutta exchanged animals in early 2000. In March 2000, the Manipur Forestry Department conducted a survey to count the deer in their small habitat at the Keibul Lamjao National Park. A total of 162 individuals was registered, the highest number in the wild since the park was founded in 1977. Nevertheless the situation is critical, because pollution of the adjacent Lake Loktak has increased heavily over recent years as a result of human settlements.]

Mittra, D.K.: The history of Zoological Gardens, Calcutta. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (1999), Back when . . . & then? section, p. 3. [This issue contains several other items on the history of Calcutta Zoo, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.]

Perschke, M.: Der Beginn eines Erhaltungszuchtprogrammes für den Schmalstreifenmungo. (A new captive-breeding programme for the narrow-striped mongoose.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 10–12. [German, with English summary. The narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) is endemic to the vanishing dry forests of south-west Madagascar. Through the efforts of the author, who has spent all his holidays since 1994 in Madagascar to help improve animal keeping at Tsimbazaza Zoo, Antananarivo, the first of these mongooses arrived in Europe in 1997. With the animals at Tsimbazaza, they constitute the founder stock of a conservation breeding programme for the species. Several offspring have since been born, and exchange of animals between the partner zoos of Berlin and Antananarivo has taken place, ensuring genetic mixing of the animals kept in captivity. In the wild, the species is threatened, and although some reserves exist in its range, not enough is being done to ensure their viability in the long term. Fortunately, interest in the breeding programme is increasing in European zoos.]

Pillai, N.C.: Mating behaviour of ratel (honey badger) Mellivora capensis in Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), pp. 1–2.

Rajarathinam, R., Gopalakrishnan, A.V., and Kalaiarasan, V.: Chennai Snake Park: environmental orientation programme for teachers and students on the role of reptiles. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 4 (2000), pp. 17–18.

Rookmaaker, K., and Monson, J.: Woodcuts and engravings illustrating the journey of Clara, the most popular rhinoceros of the eighteenth century. Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 313–335. [Six woodcuts and 14 copper engravings were produced for Captain D. van der Meer, who exhibited the Indian rhino Clara around Europe from 1741 to 1758. The various illustrations, in which the rhinoceros image remained remarkably constant, are described, and some are reproduced, together with the long text of one broadsheet.]

Schliebusch, I., and Schliebusch, G.: Morphologische und genetische Untersuchungen zum systematischen Status der Populationen des Gelbwangenkakadus und des Gelbhaubenkakadus. (Researches into the taxonomic status of the lesser sulphur-crested and sulphur-crested cockatoos.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 22–23. [German, with English summary. The aim of this study, based on morphological and genetic analyses, was to clarify the taxonomic status of the Cacatua sulphurea and C. galerita populations, and to carry out new unequivocal species and subspecies descriptions. The results showed that the populations form one species that has to be named C. sulphurea (Gmelin, 1788), comprising six morphological subspecies (five of which were confirmed by genetic research): C. s. sulphurea (which contains the former ssp. C. s. sulphurea and C. s. parvula); C. s. citrinocristata; C. s. abbotti; C. s. galerita (formerly C. g. galerita); C. s. fitzroyi (formerly C. g. fitzroyi); and C. s. triton (which contains the former ssp. C. g. triton and C. g. eleonora).]

Siex, K.S., and Struhsaker, T.T.: Der Sansibar-Stummelaffe – bedrohtester Primat auf der Ferieninsel. (The Zanzibar red colobus – the tourist island's most endangered primate.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), p. 25. [German, with English summary. With a population of 2,000, Procolobus kirkii is one of the most threatened primates in Africa. Habitat fragmentation and hunting have reduced its numbers, while local people are not much aware of its threatened status. A conservation project carried out by the authors included a survey of the remaining colobus populations as well as education. The results are now used for applied conservation action. This, and the awareness campaign, might change the human attitude towards this primate and offer great possibilities for ecotourism. Already thousands of tourists are coming each year to Zanzibar to watch the primates.]

Singh, H.S.: Zum Status des Indischen Halbesels in Kutch, Gujarat, Indien. (Status of the Indian wild ass.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), p. 24. [German, with English summary. The subspecies Equus hemionus khur is restricted to the Rann of Kutch and surrounding areas. The population has increased in the 1990s following a serious drought in 1987, and at the present rate of increase, numbers could reach 4,000 by the year 2010. Studies indicate that this may cause conflicts with local inhabitants. The current reserve cannot sustain more asses at the moment, so action is necessary to prevent a situation in which tensions will arise between people and the equids.]

Stenke, R.: Artenschutz-Projekt `Nördlicher Haarnasen-Wombat' in Queensland, Australien – ein Abschlussbericht. (The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat Recovery Program, Queensland.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 12–15. [German, with English summary. This species (Lasiorhinus krefftii) is confined to a single population in central Queensland, comprising fewer than 100 individuals. In spite of more than 25 years of research and monitoring, there is still a lack of important information on the species' behaviour and ecology. The wombats are not a popular subject for field studies, as they live in a remote place with a harsh climate, are completely nocturnal and extremely wary. In the framework of the recovery program, a behavioural study was carried out between August 1997 and May 2000, providing the first information on several aspects of the wombats' behaviour. Knowledge gained through this study was incorporated in up-dated guidelines for habitat and population management, and led to an improvement in the general design of the recovery program. The population is currently expanding, and 25 offspring were successfully raised by their mothers between 1996 and April 2000.]

Stenke, R.: Projekt zum Schutz des Cat-Ba-Languren in Vietnam. (Conservation project for the Cat Ba langur.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 8–9. [German, with English summary. Cat Ba National Park on Cat Ba Island, North Vietnam, is home to the endemic golden-headed or Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), the world's most critically endangered primate species. Only an estimated 105 to 135 individuals are thought to survive, and though Vietnam has a strong system of laws and regulations designed to protect nature and wildlife, law enforcement is ineffective, due to lack of infrastructure and insufficient training, equipment, and motivation of ranger staff. The article reports on a major project launched in October 2000 to conserve the langur and its habitat.]

Varadharajan, A., and Kandasamy, A.: A survey of gastro-intestinal parasites of wild animals in captivity in the V.O.C. Park and Mini Zoo, Coimbatore. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (2000), pp. 257–258.

Walker, S.: Ram Brahma Sanyal – the first zoo biologist. Zoos' Print Vol. 15, No. 5 (1999), Back when . . . & then? section, p. 9. [Sanyal, the first superintendent of Calcutta Zoo, was the author of A Handbook of the Management of Wild Animals in Captivity in Lower Bengal (1892), the first zoo management book in the world. A reprint of a review of the book from Nature (4 August 1892) accompanies the article.]

Weghorst, J.A., and McGrew, W.C.: Up where they belong? Habitat use and activity budget in two captive groups of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla g. gorilla). Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 5 (2000), pp. 273–284. [Most generalizations about gorillas are based on the well-studied mountain subspecies, which is predominantly terrestrial; but wild western lowland gorillas are opportunistic frugivores, and most of their food is harvested in trees, where their foraging attains heights above 30 metres. The authors compared habitat use and activity budgets in gorillas in two zoos that housed them in strikingly different habitats. Gorillas at Columbus Zoo had the opportunity to climb in a three-dimensionally-complex environment which simulates nature in function but not in appearance, whereas gorillas at Cincinnati Zoo had a naturalistic-appearing habitat that was virtually two-dimensional (the only climbing structure being an artificial uprooted tree). Columbus gorillas spent 34% of their time off the ground, contrasted with only 2% for the Cincinnati ones. Despite this difference in habitat utilization, activity budgets did not differ between the two zoos, with both groups spending approximately 75% of their time resting. This suggests that additional enrichment procedures are needed, in order to stimulate behavioural patterns in captivity that reflect those of wild gorillas.]

Wirth, R.: Die Philippinenprojekte im Jahr 2000. (Philippine projects 2000.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 3–8. [German, with English summary. Reports on a number of promising and successful activities on the Philippines. On Cebu, six endemic bird species that were thought to be locally extinct have been rediscovered; and, with support from Bristol Zoo, coordinator William Oliver has established a group of forest guards in Nug-as. The breeding centre in Bacolod City, Negros, reports a breeding success with Visayan tarictic hornbills, and the completion of new facilities for endangered parrots, Visayan spotted deer, Visayan warty pigs, Philippine sailfin lizards, Philippine eagle owls and Visayan leopard cats provide essential conditions for ongoing and future breeding projects. At the Mari-it Conservation Centre, Lambunao, Panay, additional aviaries are being built for seven wrinkled hornbills, of which one pair have attempted to breed. Visayan spotted deer, Visayan warty pigs and Panay bushy-tailed cloud rats reproduced. Further funds are badly needed for these, almost the only breeding centres in the tropics covering the whole spectrum of endangered local biodiversity and exclusively working for the conservation of species. The success of these projects gives intense insight into the biodiversity of the Philippines, but also reveals how frighteningly little is known, as demonstrated by the numerous newly discovered species and subspecies that come to light each time somebody takes a closer look.]

Zahmel, N.: Zierfischfang am Malawi-See. (Exploitation of Lake Malawi ornamental fish.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 2 (2000), pp. 26–27. [German, with English summary. While scientists and conservationists show concern for the endemic fish fauna of Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, the conservation situation of Lake Malawi is less known and largely neglected. Currently, the exploitation of the endemic fish fauna, consisting of more than 700 species, is practised by some fish exporters in a very unsustainable manner. Up to 60% of the cichlids die during catching, and even more during storage and transportation. The report gives details on which species are affected and recommends some actions to improve the situation. People interested in this topic are encouraged to contact the author (Norbert Zahmel, Becherweg 19, 13407 Berlin, Germany; Tel.: +49–(0)30–4512875; E-Mail:, who is interested in starting a conservation project.]

Publishers of the periodicals listed:

ZGAP Mitteilungen, Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz e.V. (Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations), Franz-Senn-Strasse 14, D-81377 München, Germany.

Zoo Biology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158, U.S.A.

Der Zoologische Garten, Urban & Fischer Verlag GmbH, P.O. Box 100537, D-07705 Jena, Germany.

Zoos' Print, Zoo Outreach Organisation, Box 1683, Peelamedu, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641 004, India.