International Zoo News Vol. 50/2 (No. 323)        March 2003

 

                                   CONTENTS

 

EDITORIAL

 

FEATURE ARTICLES

 

Zoos Down Under                     Herman Reichenbach

 

RSPCA Elephant Welfare Recommendations    Paul A. Rees

Would Compromise Zoo Breeding Programmes

 

An Exciting New Zoo in Portugal           John Tuson

 

Children's Zoos – Whose Visit is it,            Sue Dale Tunnicliffe

Anyway? Does it Matter?

 

Letters to the Editor

 

Book Reviews

 

Annual Reports

 

International Zoo News

 

Recent Articles

 

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EDITORIAL

 

On British road maps, the conventional symbol for a zoo is a small image of an elephant. This is frequently misleading, and must cause some disappointment to tourists, since the majority of these symbols mark places which do not keep elephants. But the original choice of symbol is instructive: evidently, to a typical member of the British public, zoos mean elephants. And this is ironic, since no other animals commonly held in zoos have been the subject of such impassioned controversy, both within and outside the zoo community. Within zoos, the question of management systems (in simple terms, hands-on v. hands-off) is paramount, and understandably tends to break out anew every time a keeper is killed by an elephant. (The latest tragic death, at Beekse Bergen Safari Park, took place as I was writing this editorial.) It would be wildly optimistic to hope for a consensus to emerge in the foreseeable future. `The only thing two elephant keepers will agree on,' runs an old zoo saying, `is what a third elephant keeper is doing wrong.'

 

The broader and more fundamental question, though, relates to what elephants are in zoos for, and whether they should be there at all. Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) recently entered the field with a number of proposals which amount, in essentials, to a claim that elephants should be phased out in European zoos. Curiously, the expert report commissioned by the charity makes no such demand, and many of its recommendations already form part of the best zoos' practice. Disappointed, presumably, that their researchers hadn't come up with the right – i.e. prejudged – conclusion, the RSPCA published a `summary' whose degree of scientific objectivity is sufficiently indicated by its title – Live Hard, Die Young – How Elephants Suffer in Zoos. It is here that the demand for phasing out is made. Some adverse implications of the original, less emotive, review are discussed below (pp. 86–90) by Paul Rees.

 

Ideally, Dr Rees's article should be read in conjunction with the Forum section of the latest issue of Oryx [37 (1), 20–25], the journal of Fauna & Flora International. This consists of an article by Dr Rees (`Asian elephants in zoos face global extinction: should zoos accept the inevitable?'), a response by R. Sukumar, and a reply to Sukumar by Rees. It is generally agreed that the current status of Asian elephants in zoos leaves little room for optimism. Of course, it's the good news – successful births – that makes the headlines, in IZN as elsewhere. We need to be reminded just how rare such good news is. Even if every calf currently born survived, it is doubtful whether this would be enough to maintain a self-sufficient population. As things are, infant mortality is high – it was calculated in 1998 that the mean life expectancy of calves born in Europe is only 6.1 years, making at least part of the RSPCA title quoted above seem uncomfortably near the truth. Efforts to increase the birth rate, too, are an uphill struggle. More than 50% of females under 25 years old in the EEP have never been in a potential breeding situation. I've just checked the latest ISIS figures – not infallible, but probably the best available – for the European region: out of 61 zoos, 31 have no males. Of the 49.187.7 individuals listed, 69 are cows in collections with no male. Breeding transfers between zoos once looked like the answer to this; but in practice they are costly, risky, and relatively unsuccessful. The recent triumphs with artificial insemination are an impressive technical achievement, but it's hard not to regard its use as a palliative to disguise the failure to establish normal, natural breeding groups.

 

To top up the Western zoo population by importing elephants bred in Asia – either in the wild or under human management – would be a way of maintaining numbers, but at the cost of undermining any claim that our zoos have a role in the conservation of the species. There is in any case much force in the argument that supporting in situ breeding would be the most cost-effective way of helping the species. `If Asian elephants did not already exist in zoos,' Dr Rees asks, `would we spend scarce resources developing an ex situ breeding programme with no guarantee of success?'

 

Professor Sukumar makes a number of points on the positive side. Research in zoos has provided us with a detailed knowledge of elephants' reproductive physiology and biochemistry that will bring future benefits not just to ex situ management but also to conservation in the wild. Zoo elephants have an ambassadorial role and a charisma that few species can equal. The birth of a calf gives a boost to a zoo's gate money that almost makes the achievement self-financing. He also draws attention to the support many zoos give to elephant conservation projects in Asia. Both authors, however, agree on the urgent need to consolidate zoo elephants into fewer, social herds. The problem, of course, will be persuading zoos – especially those who stand to lose their precious, and crowd-pulling, elephants – to cooperate. But no one can dispute that solitary females (or, indeed, males) or female-only groups are unsatisfactory in welfare terms and serve no conservation purpose. It seems obvious that, wherever possible, it would be best to transfer them to zoos with the facilities to maintain good-sized herds. Animals who are too institutionalized to integrate socially should, of course, be allowed to live out their lives in familiar surroundings, as in the case of Bristol Zoo's solitary female who died recently. For them, the ambassadorial role at least provides some raison d'être, and with plenty of human contact and suitable enrichment their lives need not be unduly hard. But for those who are still capable of re-integration into normal elephant society, amalgamation should be the goal.

 

The primary motive for such a change should be the welfare of the individual animals. Other things being equal, elephants are happier in big groups. `The best enrichment for elephants,' as Dr Rees wrote in an earlier article for IZN [46 (6), 369–371], `is a lot more elephants – of both sexes and all ages.' But putting welfare first carries a bonus. I strongly suspect that – just as with, for example, gorillas – if zoos get the social structure right, breeding will practically take care of itself. Paradoxically, it is only by meeting the welfare needs of the individual that we can realise the zoo population's potential role in the conservation of the species.

 

Nicholas Gould

 

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ZOOS DOWN UNDER

 

BY HERMAN REICHENBACH

 

Sunny and mild Australia is a popular destination for overseas visitors, attracting almost five million tourists annually. As the whole country has only 20 million inhabitants – albeit spread over 7.7 million square kilometres (3 million square miles) – foreign visitors constitute a large minority on the fifth continent. Britons, not surprisingly – considering Australia's heritage and Great Britain's climate – make up by far the largest contingent of Europeans, followed by Germans, but New Zealand and Japan are represented best of all. Australia is `around the corner' from their perspective, presumably, and Chinese (from China and South-east Asia) and Koreans also account annually for half a million and 150,000 visitors respectively. Perhaps a greater surprise are the 400,000 to 500,000 from the U.S.A. that come to Australia annually. After all, they could visit California or Florida. If one didn't have the statistics to look up, just listening around and seeing the German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean signs at the more popular tourists' destinations would still give one a good idea of where Australia gets most of its non-English speaking visitors. (Background information and statistics have been drawn from The Far East and Australasia, 34th ed. (2002), and the Lonely Planet travel guidebooks.) But why do they come? Australia is a very pleasant country to travel through, at least for Europeans: Australians speak English, and usually better than Crocodile Dundee, the climate is pleasantly dry – probably too dry for Australia's good – and hotels and restaurants offer on the whole excellent value for money. But then that goes, with the exception of the English, for many other countries as well.

 

One explanation for Australia's popularity, surely, is its fascinating fauna. Since childhood I've been wanting to see a platypus, and kangaroos and koalas and penguins in the wild are a sight to attract many, judging by the questions asked me back home both before and after a five-week holiday in Australia late last year. Unfortunately, perhaps 90% of the kangaroos we spotted were road-kills. The only large wild mammal we frequently saw while driving along highways was the feral camel, originally introduced to Australia as a beast of burden 160 years ago from India. Crocodiles and Australia's remarkable avifauna are well represented in national parks, and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef obviously offered us an excellent opportunity to observe some of the country's beautiful marine life. But to see platypuses, koalas, numbats, Tasmanian devils and most mammals for which Australia is famous, and its equally famous snakes, zoos were really the only reasonable recourse for us tourists on a holiday. It's popular knowledge that Australia is extremely stingy in sharing its animals with zoos in other countries, and who knows, perhaps far fewer foreigners would go `down under' if they could see all those strange creatures in their local menageries. Australia's zoos, judging by what we heard around us as well as by what staff told us, certainly attract far more overseas visitors than zoos in, say, Germany or the United States. Two metropolitan zoological gardens at opposite ends of the continent, a harbour-side and a beach-side aquarium, and a suburban wildlife park may serve to illustrate the variety of options `going to the zoo' can mean in Australia.

 

Sydney

 

With over four million inhabitants spread over 1,800 square kilometres (695 square miles), greater Sydney in south-east Australia is the country's largest conurbation, home to a fifth of the population. As Australia's oldest city nestled on its arguably most attractive site, and boasting its busiest airport, the state capital of New South Wales is also the most popular single destination for overseas visitors. It is thus hardly surprising that its zoo, the Taronga Zoological Park, attracts more visitors than any other in Australia: between a million and 1.5 million annually. Every third visitor to the zoo is thought to be a foreign tourist. Taronga is not Australia's oldest menagerie, however; that honour goes to the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens. A quarter of a century after the inauguration of that zoo in Sydney's perennial rival in neighbouring Victoria state, the Zoological Society of New South Wales established a menagerie in what was known as Billy Goat Swamp south-east of the city. As the name of the site suggests, the area was not ideal for a zoo, and in 1908 the society's secretary visited zoos in Europe and along the way (e.g. Cairo) with the idea of building a new zoo on a new and larger site. Apparently Carl Hagenbeck's newly established Tierpark near Hamburg, with its innovative panoramas, the bar-less, moated exhibits and simulated natural landscapes, took his particular fancy. In 1912, the government of New South Wales allotted the society 17 hectares (43 acres) on Sydney Harbour in Mosman, almost opposite central Sydney. Four years later, an additional four hectares (nine acres) were given to the society and 850 mammals, birds and reptiles transferred from Billy Goat Swamp. The new, improved zoo of Sydney was inaugurated in October 1916. The collection has since grown to 2,000 animals representing 400 species, since the closure of the aquarium in 1992 again limited to mammals, birds and herps.

 

The most impressive aspect of Taronga Zoo remains its site. Built on a slope, a walk down the zoo offers again and again panoramic views of central Sydney's skyline, the harbour and Harbour Bridge, distracting easily from the animal exhibits, such as they mostly are. The ten-minute ferry rides from Circular Quay to the zoo and back are two of the highlights of an outing to Taronga, and buying the entrance ticket and cable-car pass along with the ferry ticket for altogether A$28.40 (about £10 or Euros/US$15) permits one to jump the long queue of season-pass holders and take the `Sky Safari' right to the top entrance, affording one a fine view and good first impression of the zoo's lay-out. There is a second entrance a minute's walk from the ferry station, but that's best used as the exit; working one's way up the zoo can be a bit strenuous. The name `Taronga' is of Aboriginal origin and said to mean `water view'. If true, the zoo could hardly have given itself a better name to emphasize its most prominent feature.

 

The only historical structures from Taronga's first years to have apparently survived the last century are the two attractive entrance buildings and the Elephant Temple; the original Hagenbeck-inspired enclosures are all gone. The elephant house resembles a Hindu temple, probably not a politically correct thing to harp on these days. (What would Australians say to a kangaroo house in Calcutta Zoo resembling Sydney Cathedral?) A listed building most likely, and obviously in need of repair, the elephants will soon leave it for an `Asian Elephant Rainforest' being built on the site of the children's zoo. Sydney's children will be able to see where milk and eggs really come from again when `Backyard to Bush' opens in April of this year. Foreign visitors like us come to see Australian animals, of course, and the monotreme house, completed in 1969, is near the top entrance. Under renovation, one of the two platypus tanks in the building was fortunately still in use. As far as we could see, a single platypus was making its rounds in a simulated creek among fresh-water crabs that – as we were later to learn – make up about half of what a platypus likes to eat in a zoo, if hardly what it would always catch in the wild. Platypuses are usually active at twilight and night, and the house was darkened accordingly. Taronga Zoo is one of only four institutions in all of Australia that exhibit the platypus, and we were going to see three of them at least. Although neither rare nor endangered, they are apparently very expensive to keep. A keeper would later tell us that it costs AS$6,000 a year just to feed one, but I wouldn't have thought that prohibitive. The cost of maintaining the tank is probably what puts off most zoos even in Australia.

 

Echidnas, too, one reads, are usually nocturnal, but at least one was nicely active in its outdoor enclosure during the day we visited the zoo. Other nocturnal animals, mostly mammals, are housed in `Australia's Nightlife', a building with over a dozen glass-fronted cages and mostly active possums, bats and the like. Koalas sleep day and night, it seems; the `Koala Walkabout' permits outdoor but partly covered viewing at different levels of the trees the Australian teddies spend the day in. Adjacent to the monotreme house a photographer will take one's picture with a koala in one's arms for only A$2.00 – but only during one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon. In other Australian zoos even that's considered too stressful for koalas, and really a tourist-trap no-no. (A koala park in Kuranda near Cairns in northern Queensland charged A$13 for a digitally-produced photograph, and other road-side menageries in Australia presumably make good money on such souvenir pictures as well.)

 

`Creatures of the Wollemi' is a relatively new Australian theme complex opened in December 2000, on the site of the old monkey house. The Wollemi pine is a living fossil of the Araucariaceae family, discovered as a new species of tree only in 1994, and Wollemi National Park is about 100 km north-west of central Sydney. The A$4m exhibit is dominated by an aviary 80 ´ 15 metres and up to 12 metres high; six Wollemi pines grace the entrance. Three thousand full-sized plants embodying 50 species were transplanted to the exhibit, designed to resemble – or, let's say, remind one of – the sandstone landscape of New South Wales's Blue Mountains. Altogether some 40 species of the local fauna, over half of them birds, are represented by 200 specimens in the exhibit. Cascading pools are said to hold platypuses, but sadly we didn't see any. (It was day-time.) Nearby are moated paddocks for great grey and great red kangaroos, yellow-footed rock wallabies and emus. Cassowaries are no longer on exhibit, although a New Guinea complex is on the drawing board. The dingo enclosure is quite nicely laid out; those for the Tasmanian devil and the wombat are more conventional wire-mesh cages with glass fronts. Pride of place in the `Serpentaria' is taken by a Komodo dragon, and a tuatara from New Zealand comes next, but most terrariums in the complex hold Australian reptiles, and a nice collection it is. Taronga also has representative although hardly spectacular collections of Australian rain-forest and brush birds.

 

Foreign visitors are especially interested in Australian animals, but Sydneysiders obviously want to see some exotic game. Zoogeography does not appear to be a strength amongst the management at Taronga, however: the dominant animal in the `Amazonia' exhibit is the North American alligator, and with cotton-top tamarins and squirrel monkeys I've already listed all that was in there. A great Indian rhinoceros wallowed in the `African Waterhole'. (The label advises one that a `great one-horned rhinoceros' is on view, so maybe most visitors won't notice the sleight-of-hand.) The `Cats of Asia' complex included lions that were definitely not of Indian origin. The zoo is apparently especially proud of the gorilla and chimpanzee enclosures, said to have won the seal of approval from Jane Goodall, but although the gorilla exhibit really is nicely landscaped, save for the rather obnoxious sign of a giant American fast-food chain, the chimpanzee habitat opened in 1980 is as shade-less as Bondi Beach. Someone should tell them that chimpanzees live in an environment with trees.

 

When Taronga's keepers went on strike last autumn after the zoo's management gave themselves a fat raise whilst cutting keepers' pay, the news even hit Hamburg's papers. We were thus not surprised that Taronga was not quite as tip-top as one might expect an Australian zoo to be. The zoo has several informative signs and small exhibits of an educational nature, on water conservation for example, and the distribution of marsupials, but most are weathered and really in need of restoration or replacement. Many wooden barriers could use a fresh coat of varnish or paint. Labels could have taken into account the zoo's very many foreign visitors who don't know English that well. The food in the zoo's eateries definitely needs improvement – beer for a starter. But improvements, of course, take time. The Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, responsible for Taronga Zoo since 1973, now has a new masterplan emphasizing wildlife regions – the Creatures of Wollemi was apparently a start. Once they've learnt that India is not in Africa, and perhaps improved labour relations, a city as economically viable as Sydney could have a genuinely fine zoo next time we come.

 

The Sydney Aquarium in central Sydney is a genuinely fine aquarium, but then it's also quite new. Sydney's first public aquarium was inaugurated in Taronga Zoo in 1927, but after less than 50 years it had become so dilapidated that the lower floor was closed to the public in 1973, and the whole building shut down in 1992. A private consortium, on the Australian Stock Exchange since 1993, built a new aquarium for initially A$30m on a pier on Cockle Bay on the western edge of the central business district. A cornerstone of the new Darling Harbour waterfront leisure district carved out of a run-down docklands area of abandoned shipyards, factories and warehouses, the aquarium – and Darling Harbour itself – opened to the public in 1988. Designed by Australian architects and rather resembling a long, white boathouse, it offers over 4,000 square metres of exhibit space in a central hall on the pier, in three floating oceanariums attached to the pier, and since 1998 in an annex built for A$14m devoted to the Great Barrier Reef. Over 1.2 m visitors enter the aquarium annually, over half of them foreign tourists. Guidebooks are available in German and Japanese as well as English, and many signs are in Japanese too. Judging by what one overhears in the public galleries, Chinese signs shouldn't be far off, but if the aquarium is really serious about bringing in more visitors from East Asia, the management should do something about the restaurant.

 

Sydney Aquarium has a sensible concept devoted to Australian aquatic life, and a layout dividing Australia into roughly eight aquatic regions: the Murray–Darling river network in south-east Australia, the mangrove habitats of the northern and eastern coasts, the rivers of tropical northern Australia, the Great Australian Bight, Sydney Harbour, the rocky shores of south-east Australia, the open sea and the Great Barrier Reef. Tunnels totalling 156 metres lead one through and around the truly beautiful 1.65-million-litre Great Barrier Reef and 1.25-million-litre open-sea oceanariums. The aquarium counts (although I don't know how) 11,000 individual animals altogether, representing 650 kinds of fish, aquatic invertebrates, frogs, crocodiles, turtles, aquatic mammals and penguins – the finest collection of Australian aquatic species anywhere. A highlight of the Murray–Darling exhibition area is the platypus tank, the first exhibit one comes to after paying one's A$23 (c. £7 or Euros/US$12; children three to 15, A$11). Unlike the three other `platypussaries' in Taronga, Melbourne and Healesville, the Sydney Aquarium treats the platypus as a diurnal animal, and with apparently good success to date. Although the exhibit is not (or at least does not appear to be) as large or attractively designed as the one in Healesville (more on that later), nowhere can one observe the species better than here in the Sydney Aquarium – the lighting is just fine for us humans. The largest tank, encompassing 2.6 m litres, harbours Australian fur-seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus), sub-Antarctic fur-seals (A. tropicalis) and an Alaskan common seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi). How the last-named got to Australia no sign told us (or if one did, we missed it). The seal pool closes at sunset, but the aquarium is otherwise open until 10 p.m. daily. If you go, go in the late afternoon and evening – the aquarium was really packed with screaming children the whole morning and early afternoon we were there.

 

Perth

 

At the opposite end of Australia from Sydney lies Perth, state capital of Western Australia. Western Australians consider their capital the most isolated in the world, and although there are presumably citizens on South Sea islands who would say the same for their local capitals, Perth really is something of an island on an island. With 1.4 m inhabitants, greater Perth is home to 70% of Western Australia's population; once one leaves the outskirts there really isn't much in the way of civilization for hundreds of kilometres to come. A very pleasant – and thanks to Western Australia's mineral wealth quite prosperous – city, Perth boasts its own stunning skyline on a beautiful site where the River Swan flows into the Indian Ocean. The Perth Zoological Gardens lie in South Perth, with its own attractive ferry connection across the river to the city centre (where an excellent Chinese seafood restaurant awaits one's return). For three recent years in a row, the zoo was awarded the Major Tourist Attraction Award by Western Australia's tourist authorities, and although that might say more about the options one has when visiting the state than about the quality of the zoo per se, Perth really does have a good zoo. In 2001 it hosted the annual conference of WAZA, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, giving zoo directors around the world an opportunity to pay a call on what may well be at least the most isolated zoo in the world. An old zoo like Australia's three other capital-city menageries (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide), Perth Zoo was first opened to the public in 1898 by the Western Australian Acclimatisation Committee, with originally only two lions and a tiger. As great cats were hardly the animals the committee really wanted to get acclimatized in the state, it was obvious that a real zoo and not just an acclimatization garden was the goal of the group, but it's fitting that Perth Zoo now contributes much to breeding and releasing endangered Australian animals into the wild. Since 1969 the menagerie has been a state-run zoo, administered since 2001 by the Zoological Parks Authority of Western Australia.

 

What Americans would call the `state mammal' is in Western Australia the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), a beautiful marsupial termite-eater now restricted to small patches of forest in the south-west corner of the state. Aside from a small wildlife park near Alice Springs in central Australia, Perth Zoo is the only collection in the world to exhibit and breed this remarkable species – around 100 have been bred to date. A single male numbat is on exhibit in an attractive and informative enclosure complete with a video connection to the breeding area. The animal is supposed to be diurnal, but the numbat on exhibit doesn't seem to know that, and one's most likely to catch a glimpse of one on the screen only. Another breeding programme is devoted to the endemic Western Australian short-necked or swamp turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina), the rarest of the continent's reptiles and probably the most endangered of the world's chelonians. Discovered as a species new to science in 1839, it was never seen again and presumed extinct until rediscovered by a schoolboy on a road near Perth in 1953. Perth Zoo has been breeding the turtles since 1988, and well over half of the estimated 300 that still exist today in patches of wetland around the city owe their birth to the zoo. One species bred and released so successfully that the programme is now being phased out is the chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii), a `native cat'. Once spread throughout most of the continent, by the late 1980s only 6,000 were thought to have survived in south-western-most Australia. Perth Zoo established a breeding colony in 1990, and since 1993 400 have been bred and set free.

 

The breeding programme of which Perth Zoo appears to make the most fuss, at least in public, is devoted to the Sumatran orang-utan. Before one even enters the front gate, a huge sign promotes `Perth Zoo's Orang-utan Appeal'. Last December the zoo launched a new book by its curator of exotic mammals, Leif Cocks, on orang-utans and the zoo's breeding programme, the royalties from which are promised to the appeal. Perth Zoo has had orang-utans only since 1968, but has since bred two dozen. With Puan, who gave birth to her eleventh offspring at 40, the zoo boasts an impressive record-holder as far as age is concerned. In June of last year a new orang-utan house was unveiled with seven outdoor enclosures – unfortunately the ugliest exhibit in the zoo. Orang-utans are notorious, of course, for taking their enclosures apart, and it's presumably frustrating to have one's expensive nature-like exhibit being dissected by a bored ape. But the Perth solution – with what appear to be stainless-steel climbing frames with ropes and fan-like steel-and-wood or sail-cloth shades, and a backdrop of pale concrete or what looks like corrugated iron – is a throw-back to the just-keep-it-clean mentality of the '50s and '60s. If attractive outdoor enclosures can be built for orang-utans in the cold of Northern Europe (see, for example, the new orang-utan exhibit at Münster Zoo and the one under construction in Wuppertal), then surely in sunny Australia as well!

 


Perth Zoo is spread over 18 hectares (44 acres) exhibiting a representative collection of 1,800 Australian and exotic animals of 230 species. The grounds are divided up roughly into four `regions': the Australian Walkabout, the Australian Wetlands, the Asian Rainforest and the African Savannah. Large chunks of the earth are thus not represented, North and South America, for example, Europe and the Poles, but the concept makes sense in a climate such as Perth's and given the limited space the zoo does have. Some South American exotics can be found in the monkey house and the `World of Birds' (basically just a row of wire-mesh aviaries); a `Reptile Encounter' and a (fascinating) nocturnal house complete the layout. The geographical labels shouldn't be taken too literally, perhaps: Syrian brown bears don't really belong in an `Asian Rainforest', for example, but at least the continents are right.

 

Good horticulture has obviously been taken to heart, and one of the attractions of the `African Savannah' is the African vegetation planted in and around the enclosures. The labelling of plants, especially for Australian trees and bushes, is a very nice service, letting one know not only what one's looking at, but also what Australian aborigines traditionally do with them. In the `Australian Walkabout' the landscaping is partially modelled on well-known landmarks such as Wave Rock, 350 km south-east of Perth, and the Devil's Marbles in central Australia. Perhaps of greater interest to zoo enthusiasts in the Walkabout are the aviaries holding what are said to be the world's only breeding pairs of long-billed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) and forest red-tailed black cockatoo (C. banksii naso). Roaming about free within the Walkabout we saw great red and great grey kangaroos and agile and tammar wallabies; the emus were fenced off and the koalas walled off together with red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica). At least four other species of kangaroo-like marsupials and dingoes have their own little enclosures within the Walkabout; the dingoes even have a waterfall in their compound. The Australian Wetlands section is basically one large aviary with the birds one would expect from the name; new are two crocodile enclosures for the two species represented in Australia. The lone estuarine crocodile is five metres long behind a glass front only 4.6 metres long, so presumably the zoo will soon want either a new crocodile enclosure or a new crocodile. If one only has an hour for the zoo, the nocturnal house is really a must: 23 individual enclosures with several very rare Australian marsupials and rodents. Entrance costs only A$14 for adults, the equivalent of about £4 or Euros/US$7. Attendance is from 500,000 to 700,000 annually, of whom, we were told by the media and communications manager, about 20% are overseas visitors.

 

About half-an-hour's drive (traffic permitting) north-west of central Perth in the beach-side suburb of Sorrento lies the Aquarium of Western Australia. The name sounds official, but in fact it is one of six very commercial aquariums worldwide – including one in Manly, a beach suburb of Sydney – owned and operated by Coral World International Ltd. Founded in Israel in the mid-1970s, the company, for tax purposes, now has its post office box on the island of Guernsey. The Aquarium of Western Australia actually started out as Underwater World in 1988, was acquired by Coral World in 1991, and changed its name effective 1 January 2001. The name change gave it the opportunity to adopt the brilliant acronym AQWA, but the trigger for it was the death of three dolphins in December 1999, and the accompanying bad publicity. The dolphins had originally come from another oceanarium called Atlantis, north of Perth, that had folded in 1990. Apparently Underwater World had accepted the dolphins in 1992 only after an ocean rehabilitation effort for the three had failed; the fall-out from their deaths was thus in a way a bum rap. The aquarium nevertheless took the opportunity to re-invent itself as one devoted to the marine life of Western Australia's coastal waters, renovated most of the ground floor tanks, and divided up the floor-plan along regional lines, with corners devoted to the coral reefs, the ocean floor and the Far North (and estuarine crocodiles). To polish the aquarium's reputation, Coral World established an AQWA Foundation ostensibly to promote marine conservation, and after paying one's A$20 to visit the aquarium, signs everywhere advise one that money spent in the gift shop or on boat tours organized by the aquarium goes to the Foundation and its many good causes. Maybe. Visiting the aquarium there's no hint anywhere that the place is really just a commercial operation and not, like Perth Zoo, an institution in the public domain. Still, AQWA is well worth a visit.

 

The Seal Island Underwater Gallery is not one of the reasons, however: only a smallish swimming pool for Australian and New Zealand fur-seals, with turbid water and a tiny gunite rock for an `island'. The Discovery Pool is the usual shallow basin for mishandling starfish. But in the cellar is a spectacular 4.5-metre-deep, three-million-litre Temperate Sea Aquarium with a 98-metre acrylic tunnel and moving walkway going around and through it, exhibiting some 200 species of local fish, including sharks and rays, and sea turtles. Midway down the stairway is a large tank for what many might consider Australia's most fantastic endemic fish, leafy (Phycodurus eques) and weedy (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) sea-dragons. Twenty Australian dollars (the equivalent of about £6 or Euros/US$10) is actually a very reasonable entrance fee when compared to what one usually has to pay to visit an oceanarium. For an additional A$20 one gets an annual pass to come as often as one likes – and get discounts in the gift shop, bar and café. Although obviously only a serious option for locals, the price policy seems sensible. The aquarium has received fewer than 300,000 visitors annually in the 13 to 14 years it's been in business. Unfortunately one does have to pay an additional dollar to receive an identification guide – the labelling on the walls is very unsatisfactory.

 

Healesville

 

If you have time for only one zoo in Australia, go to Healesville. That may seem a presumptuous statement for me to make, as I really cannot claim to have visited all the zoos of Oz. We didn't even have time for such an important zoo as Melbourne's, and Adelaide's I only popped into. But our best impression of what's known officially as the Sir Colin MacKenzie Zoological Park, and by everyone as Healesville Sanctuary, has been corroborated again and again by zoo directors and enthusiasts I know who have seen all of Australia's major zoos. Of course, I'm saying this from the perspective of a foreign visitor, interested primarily in Australia's fauna. Elephants, giraffes, gorillas I can see at home; Australian visitors will usually have other priorities. But even Australian zoo directors will presumably admit that Healesville has the country's most comprehensive collection of Australian animals – and that they are on the whole very well displayed. Attendance is a healthy 320,000 to 360,000 annually, of whom – according to the duty manager on the day of our visit – only 10% are overseas visitors. A keeper put the number closer to 25%, but either way Australians too must be impressed. School children account for 50,000.

 

Healesville is a small market town of less than 10,000 inhabitants in the wine-growing hills about 65 km (41 miles) east of central Melbourne. Greater Melbourne, Australia's second-largest conurbation, has about 3.5 m population, and the Sanctuary and the wineries in the area are popular day-tour destinations. Unless one has a car, one is probably best advised to take a commercial tour, even though that invariably means that one has only a couple of hours in the afternoon for the zoo. The sanctuary really deserves the whole day. Unfortunately, the train service to Healesville was stopped years ago (privatization), and the train and coach combination that public transport from Melbourne entails is infrequent and time-consuming.

 

Healesville Sanctuary goes back to 1920 and the doctor and anatomist Colin MacKenzie (1877–1938). In 1920 MacKenzie leased 32 hectares (78 acres) of what had been an aboriginal reserve as a field research station for his Australian Institute for Anatomical Research established a year earlier in Melbourne. He left Melbourne for Canberra in 1927, returned the lease and sent most of his animals to Melbourne Zoo. Healesville Shire (that is, County) Council, with the support of various local naturalists' and business groups, promoted the site with the few animals left as a tourist attraction. The zoo was inaugurated the next year as the Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary for Australian Flora and Fauna. It was a platypus that put Healesville on the map, and platypuses that have kept it there. Splash, brought to the sanctuary as a foundling in February 1933, survived for just over four years, a record for an Australian zoo up to that time. In 1937 David Fleay (1907–1993), curator of Australian animals at Melbourne Zoo, was appointed the sanctuary's first full-time director. Bringing over a hundred snakes with him for a new snake farm in the sanctuary, Fleay held the post for ten years. He was dismissed upon returning from New York after the triumphant delivery of three platypuses for the Bronx Zoo, two of which would survive for a decade. Apparently a conflict over the ownership of animals in the sanctuary brought him down, but not before he had produced the first – and for 55 years only – platypus bred and raised in captivity. That was in 1943, with the birth of Corrie. The Melbourne Olympics in 1956 encouraged Australia's Olympic Tyre and Rubber Co. to sponsor the construction of the country's first purpose-built `platypussary' – a nocturnal house with two tanks, giving visitors for the first time the opportunity to observe platypuses under water. It was succeeded in 1994 by the Sidney Myer World of the Platypus, built at a cost of A$1.3m and worth every cent: 40 metres of interconnected display tanks attractively designed as a `creek' housing not only platypuses but water-rats (Hydromys chrysogaster), eels and other local fish – and the crayfish called yabbies (Cherax destructor), platypuses' favourite food. Behind the tanks are 30 metres of tunnels simulating the platypuses' own tunnel and burrow system in the wild. The old platypussary has been converted into a breeding and research centre, and in 1999 twins were raised. Two years later Healesville reared its fourth offspring – still the only zoo worldwide to have bred this unique and curious species. The breeding programme is more a research than a conservation effort, however, as Les Fisk, the keeper largely responsible for Healesville's recent breeding successes, pointed out to us. The sanctuary is regularly brought more foundlings than can ever be displayed, and the species is not at all endangered. Badger Creek, which flows through the sanctuary (by `badger' the early British settlers meant wombat), is home to half a dozen genuinely wild platypuses within a three-kilometre stretch above and below the zoo. But who ever gets to see them?

 

Platypuses, of course, are not the only interesting animals in the Sanctuary. Altogether the zoo exhibits over 1,100 animals representing about 200 species, all Australian and most from the south-east of the country (no numbats, camels or even cassowaries, for example). Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelides leadbeateri), Victoria's `state mammal' and another species believed extinct for decades until rediscovered in 1961, the helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix), the only bird endemic to the state, and the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) are among the other animals only ever bred at Healesville. The orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is a critically endangered species in south-east Australia that has been bred in Healesville and released successfully in the wild 70 times since 1996. The exhibits, too, are on the whole very attractive, and I at least know of no zoo in Australia that displays the continent's fauna so well. How nice and naturalistic Wombat Gully, for example, already 15 years old, seems when compared to the sterile and small cage for wombats in Taronga Zoo, or for that matter most exhibits for this species in European zoos. The 30-year-old nocturnal house with its 15 individual vivariums is another gem. The Tasmanian devils – not now but centuries ago native to mainland Australia and Victoria – are next in line for a new home, we were told. Although simple, the enclosure still seems to serve its purpose well. At the time of our visit, by coincidence, the government of Victoria announced that Healesville Sanctuary would be given A$4m for an Australian Wildlife Rescue Hospital, which will be open to the public for `behind the scenes' visits. The zoo is deluged annually by the public with over 1,500 injured animals which it is expected to care for. Another A$4.2m have been allocated for an information centre and A$1.3m towards infrastructure improvements. Altogether A$32m have been earmarked for Victoria's three state zoos over the next three years. Healesville has been supervised by the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board of Victoria since 1978. Melbourne Zoo and Victoria's Open Range Zoo are the other two state zoos.

 

Open-range zoos

 

A relatively new development in Australian zoo construction deserves mention, although I'm not really in a position to comment on it, as we didn't visit any of the institutions involved: what Australians call `open-range zoos'. As the name suggests, these are large wild-animal parks, the places Australians go to when they want to see exotic big game. We, of course, wanted to see Australian animals, not African or Asian beasts, so we skipped the country's three open-range zoos, however good they may be. Elephants, rhinoceroses and giraffes are still kept in Sydney and Perth Zoos, but all four of the old capital-city menageries, with the exception of Sydney's right near the city centre, are relatively small in area and thus not optimally designed to exhibit large herds of large animals. The idea for a second, a `big sister' zoo out in the countryside is not new: the Zoological Society of London opened the 240-ha (600-acre) Whipsnade Wild Animal Park in Bedfordshire north of London as long ago as 1931, and the Zoological Society of San Diego inaugurated its 890-hectare (2,200-acre) Wild Animal Park in the San Pasqual Valley in 1972. But in no one country has the concept been so well developed as in Australia: three of the country's four traditional metropolitan menageries now boast a subsidiary for big animals. Sydney (or rather the Zoological Park Board of New South Wales, which is also responsible for Taronga Zoo) was the first: the Western Plains Zoo opened near Dubbo in 1977. Unfortunately, Dubbo is way out of town, 414 km (257 miles) north-west of Sydney on the road to nowhere else. Small wonder, then, that amongst its features is a hotel, the Zoofari Lodge. About 300,000 do go there annually, to a zoo now covering 300 hectares (740 acres) with about 1,000 specimens representing over 100 species from five continents. The largest breeding group of African black rhinoceroses is said to be their own. Victoria's Open Range Zoo was inaugurated in 1983 near Werribee, 35 km (22 miles) south-west of Melbourne. Directed from 1998 until this January by the indomitable David Hancocks, it attracts something over 200,000 visitors a year to grounds covering 180 ha (450 acres) and 2,000 mostly African animals. The zoo landscape architects Jones & Jones, with whom Hancocks has been associated since his days as zoo director in Seattle, designed a new masterplan in 1999 that promises us a, well, Jones & Jones zoo in the coming years. We'll know what to expect. The Royal Zoological Society of South Australia dedicated Adelaide's countryside estate in 1993: the Monarto Zoological Park, 70 km (45 miles) south-east of the state capital, covers about 1,000 ha (over 2,400 acres) devoted mainly to the large animals of the savannahs, steppes and semi-deserts of Africa, Asia, South America and Australia itself.

 

The really serious zoo fan, once in Australia, will always want to visit Adelaide. The small zoo itself, the second-oldest in the country, is probably not worth the extra trip, pleasant though it is with its mixture of attractively restored Victorian structures and modern enclosures. Even its signal animal, the yellow-footed rock wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus), in the wild largely limited to South Australia, can be seen in several zoos in and even outside Australia. But in the South Australian Museum a twenty-minute walk towards the railway station stands one of the gems of zoo history: a Javan rhinoceros, the last to have been kept in a zoo outside South-east Asia, and one of at most half a dozen altogether. He – for he was a bull – lived in Adelaide Zoo from 1886 until his death in 1907. No one apparently paid much attention to him during his lifetime, for he was always labelled a great Indian rhinoceros. His true identity, obvious enough, one would think, when standing in front of him in his glass case now, was not recognized until his autopsy. Javan rhinoceroses nowadays, live ones anyway, are exhibited nowhere, and whether the species survives in the one reserve in Indonesia and one or two patches of distribution in Indochina where it's been recently known to exist, is a matter of hope more than conjecture. The thylacine, the Tasmanian tiger, was left to die out by Australia's zoos. The Museum of Victoria kindly (and proudly) showed us off-exhibit the pelt of the only known zoo-bred offspring, born in 1899 in Melbourne Zoo. But a breeding programme was never seriously contemplated, apparently. The Australian Museum in Sydney now wants to clone thylacines to bring them back. Will Taronga Zoo have one next time we come? Australia's major zoos and aquariums are certainly worth visits with the fascinating animals the country has preserved.

 

Literature

Anon. (1998): Offizieller Führer, Aquarium Sydney Darling Harbour. Sydney Aquarium.

Blaszkiewitz, B. (2002): Zu Besuch bei Schnabeltieren in australischen Tiergärten. Milu 10: 511–517.

Cocks, L. (2002): Orangutans and Their Battle for Survival. Tuart House, Perth.

Courcy, C. de (2001): Zoological Gardens of Australia. In Zoo and Aquarium History – Ancient Animal Collections to Zoological Gardens. (ed. V.N. Kisling, Jr), pp. 181–213, 380. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Fischer, J.K. (2001): Taronga Zoo. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 1210–1214. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

Fischer, J.K. (2001): Western Plains Zoo. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 1327–1329. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

Hancocks, D. (2001): Victoria's Open Range Zoo. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 1300–1303. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

Johnson, M. (2001): Perth Zoological Gardens. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 995–997. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

Lynn, D., ed. (2002): The Far East and Australasia, 34th ed., pp. 100–147 (Australia). Europa Publications, London.

McAlister, E. (2001): Adelaide Zoological Gardens and Monarto Zoological Park. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 6–10. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

McClymont, D. (2002): Melbourne, 4th ed. Lonely Planet, Melbourne.

McKnight, T.L. (1969): The Camel in Australia. Melbourne University Press.

Murphy, J.A. (2001): Healesville Sanctuary. In Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos (ed. C. Bell), pp. 540–546. Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.

O'Brien, S. (2002): Sydney, 5th ed. Lonely Planet, Melbourne.

Paddle, R. (2000): The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine. Cambridge University Press.

Rookmaaker, L.C. (1998): The Rhinoceros in Captivity. SPB Academic, The Hague.

Symonds, S. (1999): Healesville Sanctuary: A Future for Australia's Wildlife. Arcadia, Kew, Victoria.

Webb, S., and Colson, I. (2001): Western Australia, 3rd ed. Lonely Planet, Melbourne.

 

Websites

www.aqwa.com.au (Aquarium of Western Australia)

www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au (Perth Zoological Gardens)

www.sydneyaquarium.com.au (Sydney Aquarium)

www.zoo.nsw.gov.au (Taronga Zoological Park)

www.zoo.org.au (Sir Colin MacKenzie Zoological Park)

 

Herman Reichenbach, Paul-Sorge-Strasse 74, 22459 Hamburg, Germany (E-mail: reichenbach.herman@online.guj.de).

 

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RSPCA ELEPHANT WELFARE RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD COMPROMISE ZOO BREEDING PROGRAMMES

 

BY PAUL A. REES

 

Introduction

 

Most zoo elephants live in environments and social conditions that are substantially different from those experienced in the wild, and a number of welfare issues consequently arise. However, many of these animals form part of cooperative breeding programmes that aspire to maintain insurance populations of the two species as their numbers further decline in the wild, and any consideration of welfare compromises must take this into account.

 

A number of animal welfare organisations have called for zoos to discontinue the keeping of elephants. The Born Free Foundation is opposed to the keeping of elephants and is campaigning for all urban zoos to be made `elephant-free' (Anon., 2002a). Some British zoos have recently stopped keeping elephants, either as a result of conscious decisions or by default because of the deaths of their animals. Following the death of a keeper in October 2001, the Zoological Society of London decided to move three Asian elephants from Regent's Park to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. Edinburgh Zoo and the Welsh Mountain Zoo no longer keep elephants, and the only elephant at Bristol Zoo recently died and will not be replaced. However, other zoos are expanding their elephant groups. In recent years three Asian calves have been produced at Chester Zoo, and their bull has fathered two calves at Twycross Zoo. In December 2002 Colchester Zoo announced the first birth of an African elephant in Britain by artificial insemination, and there is clearly great potential for this procedure to be used to increase the zoo population in the future.

 

The RSPCA review

 

A Review of the Welfare of Zoo Elephants in Europe commissioned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) in the U.K. makes a number of recommendations to improve the welfare of elephants (Clubb and Mason, 2002). Many of these are to be welcomed, such as improvements to accommodation and handling procedures, but some would undoubtedly compromise cooperative breeding programmes. The review does not call for a complete ban on the keeping of elephants in zoos. It does, however, suggest that only those zoos that solve the welfare problems of elephants `should be allowed [sic] to keep elephants in the future' and that in the meantime zoo populations should be frozen (Clubb and Mason, 2002, p. 252). But the RSPCA's summary of Clubb and Mason's report, Live Hard, Die Young – How Elephants Suffer in Zoos (Anon., 2002b), makes no such compromise and demands that:

– No more elephants must be imported into Europe;

– No more elephants must be bred in Europe;

– Zoos in Europe that still keep elephants must phase them out;

– In the future, zoos should refocus their resources on wild elephant welfare.

 

Asian elephant numbers in zoos around the world are already in decline (Rees, 2003). Unless there is a significant improvement in breeding success or an increase in the number of imported animals, it is likely that this species will be demographically extinct in zoos within fifty years.

 

At the moment, there does not appear to be any political interest in banning the keeping of elephants in U.K. zoos. However, a legal mechanism already exists that could be used to achieve this. In theory, a local authority could revoke a zoo's licence under Section 17 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 if it did not comply with any requirements laid down by the authority. Under Section 5 (5) of the Act, the local authority can be directed by the Secretary of State to attach a condition to a licence. In theory, such a condition could require that a zoo did not keep elephants. The government could also refuse to issue any further import permits for elephants, as required under Article III of CITES.

 

Leaving aside the RSPCA's call for a total ban on the keeping of elephants in zoos, some of Clubb and Mason's recommendations could have a significant impact on breeding if adopted by zoos. Those recommendations that could have the greatest impact are:

– Keeping bull calves with their mother until the age at which they normally disperse in the wild (10 to 15 years of age);

– Allowing cow calves to remain with their mothers for life.

 

Chester Zoo's Chang is the most prolific bull Asian elephant in the U.K. He was born in November 1981 in Copenhagen Zoo. In June 1985 he was taken to Odense Zoo, and in October 1988 he was moved to Chester. By the age of 21 Chang had fathered eight calves. If he had been kept with his mother until the age of 15, six of these calves would not have been conceived and three of the calves currently in the U.K. population would not exist (Table 1). Although separated from his mother at an early age (three and a half years), Chang appears to be socially and sexually normal and exhibits no stereotypic behaviour.

 

Table 1. Calves sired by Chang between the ages of approximately 10 and 17 years of age.

Calf        Fate        Birth date  Conception  Chang's age at

                        (month.year)      date       conception (years)

Foetus A    Infanticide 9.9.93            11.91       10.00

Karha       Died 17 mths      19.12.95    2.94        12.25

Sithami           Survived    31.12.97    2.96        14.25

Foetus B    Miscarriage 25.4.98           6.96        14.58

Tara        Survived    6.8.98            10.96       14.92

Karishma    Survived    27.8.98           10.96       14.92

Po-Chin           Survived    18.7.00           9.98        16.83

Assam       Survived    7.10.00           12.98       17.08

 

The problem of calf mortality

 

In zoo elephants birth rates are low and calf mortality rates are high. Clubb and Mason suggest that reproduction and survival problems are indicators of poor welfare. However, the same cow may kill one calf and successfully raise others, so the available data mask a very complex situation.

 

Thi Hi Way at Chester Zoo has an interesting reproductive history (Rees, 2001). She produced her first calf in 1993 but killed it shortly post-partum. Two years later she produced a second female calf (Karha) who was attacked and rejected. This calf was hand-reared but succumbed to osteoporosis at the age of just 17 months. A further two years later Thi produced a third calf and successfully reared her, and almost three years after that she produced a fourth calf prematurely and immediately accepted him. If Thi had only produced her first two calves, some might justifiably have claimed that the zoo environment had somehow caused their loss. But she went on to successfully rear two others in the same environment.

 

There are so many variables that are likely to affect the growth of the foetus, the success of the birth and the rearing of the calf, and so few births in zoos, that it is impossible to perform any meaningful scientific analysis that would allow us to determine why zoos' elephant breeding success is so poor. Each cow behaves differently during birth, and an individual cow may behave differently with each successive birth.

 

Cost benefit analysis

 

Clubb and Mason (2002) claim that cost benefit analysis does not justify the keeping of elephants in zoos. They assert that the welfare problems experienced by these elephants cannot be justified in the absence of a successful breeding programme. However, this programme is in its very early stages.

 

In the early stages of many activities involving animals, the costs they must bear far outweigh any possible benefits. Western intensive farming systems have evolved from a situation in which the animals were severely confined, with little concern for their welfare, to relatively humane systems which take account of the physiological and psychological needs of individual species. In the U.K. these changes were brought about as a result of the recommendations of the Brambell Committee Report (Anon., 1965), which were implemented by the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. However, where animals are used in agricultural systems there is a clear benefit to mankind.

 

Animals may be confined in unnatural conditions in the very early stages of a breeding programme, with no certainty that they will reproduce. It may be many years before such a programme can be justified in terms of the benefits to the species. Whether or not a project can be justified by a cost benefit analysis will obviously depend upon the stage it has reached in its development. Clubb and Mason's conclusions come at a time when many zoos are improving their elephant accommodation (Griede, 2000) and great advances have been made in artificial insemination (Hildebrandt et al., 2001). There can be no doubt that we know enough about elephant behaviour to be able to improve the conditions in which they are kept in zoos. But to call for the end of a breeding programme which is only now beginning to overcome some of its difficulties is counter-productive.

 

Some of Clubb and Mason's recommendation, if followed, would make their conclusion that the zoo breeding programme has failed a self-fulfilling prophecy:

– Many zoo elephants are already too old to breed. If all breeding is stopped while welfare issues are investigated, the zoo population will continue to age with no new animals being recruited.

– If bull calves are kept with their mothers until they are up to 15 years old (and have reached puberty), they are unlikely to be moved to herds with receptive cows even though they may be sexually competent.

– Reproductively active cows need to be transported to bulls and must remain with them for many months to increase the chance of conception. If cow calves are to be kept with their mothers for life they would need to be taken together to bulls, causing transportation problems and increasing the pressure on accommodation at the receiving zoo.

 

The need for more research

 

Clubb and Mason have called for more research into elephant welfare in zoos, but their own attempts to collect new data failed. They sent questionnaires to the 18 zoos in the U.K. that kept elephants in an attempt to collect information on the experience of keepers, handling, health and safety issues, enclosures, reproduction, behaviour, diet and other aspects of husbandry. None of the questionnaires was returned.

 

They visited just three zoos in England and an elephant sanctuary in the United States. In addition they had discussions with a number of experts on elephant husbandry, scientists and others involved with the management of zoo elephants. Most of their 300-page report was based on a review of the literature and an analysis of published zoo elephant population data. However, there is so little published research on zoo elephant behaviour and welfare that many of their conclusions are based upon anecdotal evidence and extrapolations from studies of other mammalian species. Their report contains a list of 757 references, but only about 20 per cent of these are directly relevant to elephant welfare in zoos, and many do not appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

 

There is certainly a need for more research on zoo elephants, but this must be collected by impartial scientists, not specialists in animal welfare, and it should not be funded by organisations whose primary objective is to gather support for a ban on the keeping of elephants by zoos. Elephant welfare is an important issue for zoos, but if they feel that they are being besieged by animal welfare organisations they will have little incentive to undertake or co-operate with research, for fear that the results will be used as evidence to justify the closure of zoo breeding programmes.

 

References

Anon. (1965): Report of the Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of Animals kept under Intensive Husbandry Systems (the `Brambell Committee'). Ministry of Agriculture, London (Cmnd 2836, HMSO).

Anon. (2002a): Elephant Free London. Born Free Foundation. www.bornfree.org.uk/elephantfree (accessed 22 November 2002).

Anon. (2002b): Live Hard, Die Young – How Elephants Suffer in Zoos. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Horsham, West Sussex.

Clubb, R., and Mason, G. (2002): A Review of the Welfare of Zoo Elephants in Europe: a Report Commissioned by the RSPCA. Animal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.

Griede, T. (2000): Results of the 1999 Elephant Space Survey. In EEP Yearbook 1998/99 including Proceedings of the 16th EAZA Conference, Basel, 7–12     September 1999 (eds. F. Rietkerk, B. Hiddinga, K. Brouwer and S. Smits), p. 479. EAZA Executive Office, Amsterdam.

Hildebrandt, T.B., et al. (2001): Results of artificial insemination programmes in Asian and African elephants kept under different management systems. In Recent Research in Elephants and Rhinos (abstracts). Schüling Verlag, Münster, Germany.

Rees P.A. (2001): The history of the National Elephant Centre, Chester Zoo. International Zoo News 48 (3): 170–183.

Rees, P.A. (2003): Asian elephants in zoos face global extinction: should zoos accept the inevitable? Oryx 37 (1): 20–22.

 

Dr Paul A. Rees, School of Environment and Life Sciences and Telford Institute of Environmental Systems, University of Salford, Salford M6 6PU, U.K. (E-mail: P.A.Rees@salford.ac.uk)

 

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AN EXCITING NEW ZOO IN PORTUGAL

 

BY JOHN TUSON

 

In March 2003 a new zoo in southern Portugal will open its gates for the first time. Omega Parque is situated in the tourist heartland of the Algarve, and has been many years in the planning. It is the initiative of an English couple, Neil and Phillippa Birchenough, whose involvement in the zoo world has, until now, been peripheral: as a 24-year-old, in 1970, Neil established a small aquarium in the Cornish seaside town of St Ives (he sold it a year later, deciding that he didn't enjoy dealing with the inanities of the British public); Phillippa has half a year's experience at Singapore Zoo to her credit. But, despite working in the oil industry (most recently in Azerbaijan), the Birchenoughs have long cherished the dream of establishing a zoo, a serious-minded zoo, focused on animals more than on visitors, holding an array of Red Data Book species. Omega Parque is the realisation of that dream.

 

With their own peripatetic lives having taken them across Asia and Africa, the Birchenoughs were able to choose the location of their zoo without the complication of fixed roots. France was considered for a while, but when that seemed untenable an island appealed to them; the search narrowed until Madeira seemed to offer the solution. A site was discovered, a deposit even paid, before problems arose and the search for a suitable location resumed. Having invested time in Portugal, they thought of the Algarve, though, initially, without much enthusiasm. It was only when a chance visit to an estate agent brought about the opportunity to visit the land on which Omega Parque would eventually be built that the mainland was seriously considered.

 

It is easy to see why the site captured the Birchenoughs' imagination. It is set on undulating terrain – some of the paths that have since been constructed are quite steep – and is well covered with trees and vegetation. It is sufficiently high above sea level to be relatively cool in comparison to the heat of lower-lying regions, but this is still the south of Europe and thus the climate is quite wonderful. Away from the area that was to be developed as the zoo were groves of fruit trees, an array of outbuildings, and an historic hunting lodge. From a commercial point of view, the location was ideal, right on the road by which three million tourists a year head from the heat of the coast to the small but historic town of Monchique and, beyond that, to the peak of Foia, which, at just short of 1000 metres, is the Algarve's highest point. The estate was quickly purchased, in May 2000, and thoughts turned to the details of the development of the zoo. Construction began the following July, and now, nearly three years later, Omega Parque, already home to around a hundred animals, is ready to welcome its first visitors.

 

The Omega Parque which will receive these visitors is a low-key but rather stylish establishment. Its enclosures are designed to merge into the surroundings in as inconspicuous a way as possible, with naturalism favoured over architecture. The climate helps in this regard, with most animals able to live outside for most of the year. Much use has been made of hot-wires, with several large open enclosures in which animals and people are separated by the most unobtrusive of barriers. Neil Birchenough, who designed the zoo and its enclosure, is a firm believer in the adage of David Hancocks, that enclosures should be `discovered' one after another, rather than presented in neat rows. Thus it is that at Omega Parque enclosures are scattered through the park, tucked into the hillside, hidden behind vegetation, obscured by topography. Those enclosures are, attractively, quite unified in their design: there is an Omega Parque style, with each enclosure, however different it may be from its neighbours, clearly a part of the same whole. Straight lines are abjured; hot wires are widely employed; naturalistic cage furniture is ubiquitous (in the case of many enclosures that extends to chunks of authentic Portuguese forest). Whipsnade's chimpanzees, Jersey's Sulawesi macaques, Zoo Cerza's bear enclosure, pretty much all of Apenheul: these are the progenitors of Omega Parque's design. It looks very good indeed.

 

The animal collection at Omega Parque is composed entirely of species which are officially endangered. This is one of the tenets on which the zoo is established; indeed, Neil Birchenough says that he has no interest in keeping such animals as meerkats, however popular they may be with the visiting public. There is, of course, an irony here: some species at Omega Parque may feature on the Red List but are, nonetheless, fairly common in captivity: Barbary sheep, Hawaiian geese, Barbary macaques and so forth. Conversely, species which have not yet found their way on to the Red List, but which are rarely found in captivity, will find no home in the Algarve. This does mean that, for the moment, there are few surprises in amongst the collection here, with EEP species predominating. In many ways, Omega Parque is the very model of a modern European collection.

 

There is an emphasis on primates in that collection: several callitrichid species (golden-headed lion and emperor tamarins, Goeldi's monkeys, Geoffroy's marmosets), lemurs (black, broad-nosed bamboo (Hapalemur simus), ring-tailed, red-ruffed and black-and-white ruffed – these last of the subcincta subspecies), macaques (Sulawesi, Barbary and lion-tailed), Javan langurs, and a group of white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth). These last came from Bristol, and, as the only examples of their kind on public display in Europe, are possibly the quirkiest of Omega Parque's species. The spider monkeys and the various macaques are displayed in the simplest but most spectacular of enclosures: hot-wires have been used to fence off really very large areas, in which the respective groups of monkeys have an array of trees, shrubs and bushes in which to disport. At the moment the groups are small – three Sulawesi, one Barbary and two lion-tailed macaques, four spider monkeys (of which one is a hybrid) – but there is room for them to expand, and when they do so they will be even more impressive than they are at the moment (the Barbary macaque group will expand as soon as the red tape involved in bringing animals from Gibraltar can be cut through; the others, it is hoped, will soon be breeding). As it is, there is already something deeply satisfying about seeing primates in such a natural environment. The obvious concern is that, sooner or later, the depredations of the animals will kill or destroy the vegetation in the enclosures, but Neil Birchenough is confident that the trees in particular – many of them eucalyptus – are both hardy and unpalatable enough to survive. The animals' indoor accommodation is simple, flexible and unassuming. Heat is provided when it is needed, but the Portuguese climate is such that the primates are able to use their outdoor enclosures for much of the time.

 

The rest of the zoo's monkey collection is maintained in similar enclosures, with the smaller primates in more conventionally `enclosed' housing. The lemurs look particularly good in a series of large and airy runs, with light netting merging into the surroundings and offering a fairly `soft' barrier. One of the short-term priorities at the zoo is to develop a walk-through lemur enclosure for an as-yet undecided selection of species, but it is to be hoped that when this has been accomplished the current enclosures will remain in use, for they look good and the lemurs within clearly relish their new environments. In the meantime, a further lemur species – Alaotran gentle (Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis) – will be joining the Omega Parque collection in the coming months, with red bellied lemurs also expected.

 

In addition to the primates, the mammal collection also includes cheetah, Arabian oryx and Barbary sheep, with red pandas arriving imminently. The bird collection is currently quite small: some gallinaceous species (including some splendid-looking green peafowl), some predictable conservation success stories (Bali starlings, waldrapp ibis and Hawaiian geese) and, most spectacularly, cassowary, a species ideally suited to the wooded land of Omega Parque. The zoo currently holds just one non-breeding male double-wattled cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), but discussions are underway to import birds from America in order to really advance the European population of this species.

 

The location of Omega Parque is undoubtedly attractive, and visitors will enjoy the scenery just as they enjoy seeing a fine collection of animals, attractively presented. But there is a feeling here that, as at Howletts or Port Lympne, visitors are allowed in almost under sufferance, tolerated more than actively encouraged. There will be no feeding time talks, no farmyard, absolutely no playground. A combined café and shop has been constructed, and the aim is to sell food and souvenirs of a high standard – and for the environmental impact of the operation to be as slight as possible (no disposable crockery, no cans, no unnecessary wrapping). But, in essence, this will be as uncommercial as a zoo can be. About 45,000 annual visitors are needed to cover running costs, but it is hoped that more will come in order to finance the continued development and improvement of the zoo. But those visitors will need to take Omega Parque as they find it – this is no theme-park, but rather a place built on high-minded principles to which it is determined to stick. Its name is a reference to the last letter of the Greek alphabet, chosen to suggest that the zoo offers a last chance to see some of the animals that it maintains. A belief in the role that zoos can play in the conservation of species underpins the entirety of the operation, and it is a belief from which the Birchenoughs will not be distracted.

 

Things are being done properly at Omega Parque. The vet, Rui Patricio, has arrived with good zoo experience to his credit. The animal-keeping staff has been carefully selected (the keepers are a British–German–Dutch mixture) and appear to be relishing the opportunity to work in such a refreshingly different environment. Signs in the animal kitchen remind them, though, that the animals with which they are dealing are wild, and should be treated as such: there will be no petting of friendly lemurs, nor befriending of amiable macaques, at Omega Parque.

 

The infrastructure of the zoo is now in place. Pathways have been carved, water and electricity spread to the four corners of the site. The basic animal collection has taken up residence, and the first breeding success – of a ring-tailed lemur – has been welcomed. But, of course, Omega Parque is not yet the finished article. Despite their desire to steer away from commercialism, the Birchenoughs are acutely aware that there is no single animal within the collection which will, in itself, inspire the excitement of visitors – and even the purest of zoos needs its charismatic mega-vertebrates. However, plans are in motion to construct an enclosure – open, large, very much in keeping with the Omega Parque philosophy – for spectacled bears. Pygmy hippos, too, are set to arrive soon, and fossas feature in the medium-term development plan. Asian hornbills are hoped for, as are chattering lories, although security concerns preclude the keeping of more spectacular parrots for the moment. In the longer term, the zoo has a great deal of additional land into which it can expand – about 60 acres [24 ha] in total; this land is currently being farmed (bamboo is grown for the lemurs and red pandas; a huge number of fruit trees provide the freshest organic produce possible for the zoo's animals).

 

Starting with a blank canvas has presented Omega Parque with all sorts of fascinating possibilities, and already this looks to be a zoo which will be well worth watching. It is a zoo of very great ambitions, but those ambitions will not mean that it needs to sell out, to chase the patronage of tourists at the expense of its principles. Possibly tourists will like it precisely because it is a little aloof: its purity is one of its primary selling points. In an area of the world where one might be justified in being suspicious of a zoo – there are several establishments in the vicinity which include living animals amongst their attractions, and few of them are very pleasant – it is a relief to find a zoo which puts the needs of its animals ahead of the needs of its visitors. It will not, of course, be to everyone's taste, but it is certainly to be hoped that there is a place in the European zoo community for this most exciting of new developments.

 

John Tuson, 44 Cowper Street, Hove, East Sussex BN3 5BN, U.K. (E-mail: johnnytuson@hotmail.com)

 

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CHILDREN'S ZOOS – WHOSE VISIT IS IT, ANYWAY? DOES IT MATTER?

 

BY SUE DALE TUNNICLIFFE

 

Dedicated with very grateful thanks to the staff of St Louis Zoo, Missouri, U.S.A., especially those in the education department, whose hospitality after the events of 11 September 2001, when I was stranded in the U.S.A. for some days, will not be forgotten.

 

Children's zoos have evolved and now appear in many forms. Particularly they provide opportunities for children, especially pre-school children, to at least look at animals. The animals and themes are often focused either on the stories and rhymes that adults teach children, on baby animals, considered the appropriate specimens for baby humans to view, or on domestic animals that children can `pet'. A hidden agenda, pointed out by Brown (1973), is that children's zoos act as refuges and have a `comfort function' for adults. The children's zoo can act as a retreat for adults from the vastness of the main zoo, and offer a confined and clearly-marked area in which children do not need to be so closely watched. Thus adults can rest whilst the children look at, and often stroke, some of the domestic animals. Everly (1975) reports that between 60 and 65% of the visitors to a children's zoo were adults.

 

The theme of one of the first U.S. children's zoos (Everly, 1975) was nursery rhymes. Opened at the Bronx in 1941 (Brown, 1973), it allowed very young children to observe authentic specimens of animals portrayed in nursery rhymes, which were written at a time when most children were familiar with domesticated animals. Folk or fairy tales have also been used as a theme. La Fontaine Park, in Montreal, Canada, was designed around the characters of Aesop's fables, as retold by the French poet Jean de La Fontaine (Everly, 1975).

 

Other purpose-built children's zoos, such as the Folsom Children's Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Lincoln, Nebraska, or Drusillas Zoo Park at Alfriston, Sussex, England, have collections of animals which contain representatives of the major taxonomic groups, but their interpretation and opportunities for interaction and learning are skilfully designed to match the abilities and conceptual development of children (Chapo, 1987).

 

More recently children's zoos have become high-profile. London Zoo designed and built a new children's zoo focusing on farm species. On a different, more innovative, note, Brookfield, Chicago, opened a new children's zoo (Winston, 2001) which was designed with the broad goal of helping children grow up to become caring adults. This `play zoo' has interactive displays, but not of the kind people push and pull, as in many museums; here they make possible many play interactions including children and living things. Other play activities – an important feature of the modern children's zoo – include using a slide alongside the otter exhibit, playing in the water fountains and climbing on the spider's web. These are examples of `safe danger', a very important experience in the highly protected world of modern children (C. Seifert, pers. comm.). There is some seating provided outside, and this appears to be a firm favourite with parents or carers. Penn (2002) found that most of the visitors to the theatre at Central Park Zoo in New York were repeat visitors and members of the New York Conservation Society, whilst Seifert (pers. comm.) reports that many members come weekly to the new Dallas children's zoo, and the children play with sand or the water features while the adults sit and relax.

 

St Louis Zoo's reopened children's zoo also aspired to connect children with nature, although not in such an obvious way as Brookfield's. Indeed, the St Louis children's zoo opened several years before that of Brookfield.

 

The study

 

I sat in the main part of the children's zoo (not in the petting and grooming enclosure) and watched the groups of visitors. If I heard their comments spoken out loud, I noted them. I watched many families and recorded comments from 100 interactions. Comments were either adult-led (50%) or child-initiated (50%). Many conversations, as in other zoo work (Tunnicliffe, 1995), pointed out where the animal was or identified the animal.

 

Sometimes a child began a dialogue by claiming that an animal (in the following example an iguana) was looking straight at him:

Boy: `He's looking straight at me!'

Mother: `I don't think he is.'

Boy: `He is!'

 

As in the above example, parents often missed the cue offered by their child to have a dialogue. Why was it important to this toddler that the animal was, in his perception, looking straight at him?

 

Children's excitement at seeing an animal, particularly one which they recognise and can name, provides the accompanying adult with a conversational opportunity – rarely taken. Furthermore, one child's excitement may not be shared with another child in the same party. The following dialogue took place in a party of four, two adults and two children.

Toddler: `Iguana, iguana, iguana, Daddy!'

Boy: `Come on.'

Mother: `Iguana, sure is, son.'

The father, at whom the child had directed his excited identification, in fact did not respond, the mother briefly acknowledged his excited comment, whilst the brother ignored it.

 

Other affective comments (those expressing the speaker's personal feelings) referred to the smell of the animals. A young boy at the baby bison spontaneously remarked as he arrived at the exhibit: `Ugh, I'm getting away from here! I'm going to throw up. Let's go. Come!' Another boy merely said `Phew!'

 

Many parents directed the conversations and actions at the animals – it was their visit, not the children's:

Father: `Do you want to watch her [the keeper] feed him?'

Mother: `Do you want to touch him? Do you want to pet him?'

 

Some children seemed to assume that they could pet things and were specific. At the guinea pigs a toddler said `Come over here, I want to pet that one.' Sometimes children were reticent, which made it a little difficult for them when the expectation of their group was that they would pet.

Mother: `Won't touch? Come on!'

 

Some children held an anthropocentric ideal that they could dominate the animals and make them respond:

Boy: `Hey, bird, I'm talking to you. Hey, bird, I'm talking to you!' (The bird ignored the child.)

 

Alternatively, some parents encouraged their offspring when the animals looked somewhat apprehensive: `He says, ``I don't know about this.'' It's the same about dogs, some want to be touched and others don't. Ah! There she goes!' (The rabbit being talked about succumbed to being petted.)

 

Sometimes parents did initiate dialogues focused on the animal. At the koalas a mother asked, `Do you think he'll jump off?'

 

On other occasions parents tried hard to interest and involve their offspring – to no avail.

 

At the Prévost's squirrel, a father said, `Look! What do you see? It's a squirrel.' `My, that's a pretty squirrel,' said the mother. But neither parent gave the child long enough (`wait time', as it is called in education) to think and answer before they continued. On the other hand, some parents became impatient when the children were involved in an exhibit, most often stroking the guinea pigs or rabbits, and could be heard demanding, `Are you done?'

 

Sometimes children interpreted the behaviours of the animals, particularly the ones that could be petted: `I think he wants to get down.' Conversely, the knowledge that some animals could be petted seemed to suggest in the minds of the young visitors that other animals ought to be able to be petted too.

Child: `What about the little cat [sand cat]? Can you pet him?'

Parent: `No.'

Child: `Why not? Does he bite?'

Parent: `Yes.'

 

Many conversations were simply those of identification: `See the kookaburra,' or `Yes, that is a porcupine.' The accurate names of animals were not always known, and they were referred to by names understood by the group; `bunny' was the name frequently used for the rabbits. But sometimes children heard the correct name and repeated it: for example, a kindergarten-aged girl kept saying `Porcupine, porcupine, porcupine. . .'

 

Comments indicated that some families were regular visitors:

Girl (at bison): `Last time he was only like this tall, remember last time? But he's grown.'

 

The animals are a prime attraction, but having animals which can be petted in the same building as animals which cannot be sows confusion in the minds of children, as the boy at the sand cat showed. It would be optimal if the two different types of animal could be kept apart.

 

Whose visit?

 

My research in the past has shown (Tunnicliffe, 1995) that a zoo visit is primarily one that elicits affective comments, and that the visitors also seek to identify the animals to their satisfaction and notice salient features. They do not talk about conservation or the adaptations of the organism, let alone the biodiversity on exhibit. Does this matter? We want visitors to enjoy their visit, to leave with warm, positive feelings about zoos, and to come again. My observations in the children's zoo at St Louis indicate that this is what the family groups did. Whatever their agenda for the visit, the zoo served as the place where they could act out their family needs and interests and have a shared experience. We do not know for how long the memories lasted, or how often the experiences were recalled – I suspect, quite often and for a long time. Even though much of the time the zoo visit was apparently based on the parents' agenda, experiences were shared and would be part of the fabric of the group's and the individuals' memories. The visit is for everyone! Everyone gets something from his or her zoo visit, although not the same `thing' for each person. On these experiences are the foundations of conservation education laid.

 

References

Brown, R.A. (1973): Why children's zoos?. International Zoo Yearbook 13: 258–261.

Chapo, J.P. (1987): Educational theory: teaching and learning styles. Paper read at First International Children's Zoo Symposium, Folsom Children's Zoo, Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.

Everly, R.E. (1975): Fun, fantasy and function in children's zoos. First International Symposium on Zoo Design and Construction. Paignton Zoo, U.K.

Penn, L, (2002): Paper presented at University of Kent, May 2002.

Tunnicliffe, S.D. (1995): Talking about animals: conversations of young children in zoos, a museum and a farm. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, King's College, London.

Winston, K. (2001): What's the big idea? Hammill Family Play Zoo finds meaning in children's play. AZA Communiqué (October), 20–25.

 

Sue Dale Tunnicliffe, Institute of Education, University of London, U.K. (E-mail: s.tunnicliffe@ioe.ac.uk)

 

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

 

Dear Sir,

 

Whilst recently on leave and relaxing in the sun, I had the pleasure to read Ken Kawata's piece on `Cultural icons, paychecks and litter: returning to the roots of zoos' [IZN 49 (8), 452–464]. Perhaps it was the relaxed ambience, away from the pressures of work, but this is one of the more enjoyable and stimulating articles that I have read in a long time.

 

Like Ken, I have been in zoos for a long time (over 30 years, in fact), and I found myself nodding and smiling at a range of places in his reflective offering. We might be on opposite sides of the Pacific, but I also can well remember the more casual working environments in zoos in the early '70s; our devouring of information as young keepers; the frequent trips to the bush to observe the animals we worked with in captivity; the mad dashes to Taronga Zoo and the Australian Reptile Park in a weekend, over 600 miles away (to return to Melbourne early on Monday mornings to start another working week); the cry for more `science' in our operations; the rise of marketing; the creation of zoo associations and co-ordinated management programs; the tentative steps into in situ conservation, led by some of our more pioneering colleagues; and, most recently, a heightened push for a more `business-oriented approach' accompanied by a loss of time for real reflection and review.

 

A theme that surfaces on occasion is the concern that we are losing some of the basic skills in really managing our animals, as our organisations strive to reach and hold our various audiences. We share this disquiet in Australia and there are considerations as we speak about needing, for example, to ensure that keepers do not lose the capacity to catch animals in the appropriate manner. There is nothing wrong, of course, in setting institutional goals that involve community interface, indeed, they are absolutely appropriate, but we must never lose sight of the basis of our existence – our animals and their proper care.

 

Ken also notes a reluctance to question. I have had colleagues in Australian zoos voice a similar concern, based on their experiences of questioning particular institutional decisions, only to be told that they are being negative and their views reflect `the past', which is not relevant. My personal view is that, in order to move forward and continually increase our relevance to society, we must understand where we have come from and where we are now. This should not be interpreted as negative, but rather, in my opinion, as part of a constructive process of building a successful future. Indeed, Ken's article is an excellent example of reflecting on how we have moved and changed over the past 20 years.

 

So, `the river does keep flowing' and after all the twists and turns, I still find my job stimulating and exceedingly enjoyable, despite the more pressured working environment that we all face today. I know where I have come from and, perhaps unlike some others, I am in a position to be able to utilise an awareness of zoos and their operations and aspirations to further what, to me, is their over-riding reason for existence now – to use all the means at our collective disposal to support the conservation of biodiversity.

 

Zoos continue to be dynamic places, with an ever-present internal tension circulating around both individual and organisational goals. Ken's reflections are especially timely and I look forward to reading the views of other zoo professionals around the globe.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Chris Banks,

Curator of Herpetofauna and Education Animals,

Melbourne Zoo,

PO Box 74,

Parkville,

Victoria 3052,

Australia

(cbanks@zoo.org.au)

 

Dear Sir,

 

My compliments to Ken Kawata for his contribution to the December issue of IZN. The author hit the nail on the head when he wrote that there is a lack of critical examination in the zoo world at various levels – from daily husbandry to management philosophy – in America as well as Europe. Although younger than Ken, I was lucky enough to begin my career in an old European institution where I experienced more or less the same (informal) training that he had in the U.S. Although, obviously, not all was perfect, available resources and space availability (a lot of small cages!) made contraception and euthanasia of `surplus' animals a very rare occurrence – and the same may be said of deaths due to anaesthesia during animal transport from one zoo to another. Yet, while nowadays great attention is paid to `welfare' issues, these now widely adopted techniques have escaped ethical scrutiny by most zoo workers with the excuse that zoos' main focus is conservation!

 

On the contrary, I believe that zoos (not to speak of aquariums!) are walking backwards on the conservation issue, the reason being the increasingly commercial nature imposed on these institutions and the prominent role of `business people' in zoo management. Can an industry permit self-criticism? I don't think so – and thus one of the criteria for selecting workers at all levels is `orthodox' thinking.

 

What, then, if a ratite – or another animal – escapes? You can call the police, as I saw in 1998 in a major zoo where fear was caused by an eland escaping. What a contrast with former times, when keepers from the same zoo were asked to capture four tigers escaped from a circus (they saved one, the other three being killed by the police).

 

If zoos are not able to save their history and heritage, can they really save even a small part of biodiversity? Incidentally, Ken's paper further emphasizes the importance of an independent journal such as IZN for the zoo world.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Spartaco Gippoliti,

Viale Liegi 48,

00198 Rome, Italy

(spartacolobus@hotmail.com)

 

Dear Sir,

 

Ken Kawata's thought-provoking article [IZN 49 (8), 452–464] contained numerous barbs of unsettling truth. Zoos have made remarkable progress, technically and philosophically, but sometimes seem too busy to look back at the historical underpinnings of our trade; such preoccupation is often symptomatic of a `market-driven' enterprise. Kawata is adroit in reminding us to reflect on our history and to consider a broader context for our evolving profession.

Sincerely,

Dave Zucconi,

Past Director,

Tulsa Zoo,

Oklahoma,

U.S.A.

(davegz_2000@yahoo.com)

 

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

DUIKERS OF AFRICA: MASTERS OF THE AFRICAN FOREST FLOOR edited by V.J. Wilson. Published by Chipangali Wildlife Trust, Ascot, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 2001. x + 798 pp., illustrated (b/w and colour), hardbound. No ISBN number. Price (incl. postage & packing) c. £110, $175 or Euros 160.

 

The duikers, a group of primitive antelopes restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, form the tribe Cephalophini (subfamily Antilopinae) or the subfamily Cephalophinae in the family Bovidae. In more than one respect duikers, smallish forest dwellers with one exception in the savanna, are odd ruminants. Various species regularly include meat in their diet, i.e. purposely stalk, catch and eat birds. Originally this was discovered in captivity and ascribed to shortcomings in the food supplied. However, the number of field observations is now so large that it is obviously a natural phenomenon. This is highly irregular among the bovids and other Artiodactyla. It is known that giraffes gnaw on bones, that hippos occasionally nibble at floating carcasses of mammals, and that wild boar do eat carrion and occasionally small mammals if they stumble over them – but no other ungulate is known to stalk and catch living vertebrate prey.

 

This in all respects lavishly illustrated but extremely bulky book is the first-ever monograph of the duikers. Actually its weight, 5.4 kg, is in between that of a very large blue and a small Maxwell's duiker. The weight is due to the paper (170 gram art paper; the book is slightly less than 10 cm thick!) used, which is ideal for the illustrations. The heavy book is therefore weak in the spine; publication in two volumes would have resulted in stronger binding and thinner but more expensive tomes which would have been much easier to handle.

 

This work is a celebration of both these highly interesting ruminants and Africa. The book is a first effort to collate all data on this fascinating group, and the author (or, really, editor) has been wonderfully successful in presenting his data – the major part of which, incidentally, has been generated by himself. However, another 20 authors from all over the world have contributed data, frequently in chapters or appendices of their own.

 

The size of the book reflects the decades Wilson has worked on the subject. He has engaged in extensive field research throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has studied literally thousands of skulls and skins. Also, he has kept and bred almost all species in his own private zoo, the Chipangali Wildlife Trust near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. This is the first comprehensive work on the duikers, and all of us owe a debt of thanks to the author for bringing together all data on these fascinating antelopes. Wilson has so many data (the bibliography alone encompasses more than 1000 titles) that organizing these to form a treatise must have been a nightmare; the author has discharged himself of this onerous task with remarkable competence and his book will be the treatise on the group for many years to come. Unfortunately there is no index.

 

Illustration throughout is magnificent. There are more than 100 colour plates inclusive of full-page paintings of all 16 species of duiker, 150 figures, 100 maps, more than 200 pen-and-ink drawings, and more than 100 tables. All the full-page plates are painted by the author's wife, Mrs Paddy A. Wilson, who is also responsible for the numerous black-and-white drawings. In addition the book features a number of photos, all in colour. The whole treatise is thus beautifully and comprehensively illustrated. I particularly liked the accurate skull drawings. In fact, the illustrations alone merit the price of the book!

 

Unfortunately Duikers of Africa is rather full of inaccuracies and mis-spellings – for example, Lannea discolour (discolor, p. 288), standerised (p. 299), Lyden museum (Leiden or at most Leyden, p. 437, twice), Chamaeleo delepis (dilepis, p. 574), Cephalophus baduis (badius, p. 421, twice), Viginia (Virginia, p. 611), Ansel instead of Ansell (p. 646), garbled German quotation under Brachetka, 1963 (p. 649). It pained me personally that the Leiden museum is translocated to Austria (p. 467) – among other things, this world-famous Dutch taxonomic institute is widely known for its holdings of nineteenth-century vertebrate types. Map 74 of the zebra duiker is copied from Smith (1985); this wildly inaccurate map is so far beside the mark that one wonders why it is featured at all in the book – accurate distribution maps are available in the modern literature. Anyhow, Map 75 for the same species is quite satisfactory. In Appendix E (p. 743), a chapter written by a German author, the word `formular' is repeatedly used; this is an incorrect translation of the German word Formel, `formula'. Of course, every reader knows that it is virtually impossible to avoid inaccuracies and typographical errors in a tome of more than 800 pages and 21 authors.

 

It would be niggardly to pick on shortcomings in this book. The author/editor has worked on this subject for decades and his results are indeed comprehensive. Nevertheless I should like to draw attention to three features:

 

(1) First of all, the organization of the book is somewhat untidy – the list of contents on pp. vii–ix is so far incomplete that it does not show the various subchapters by different authors hidden in regular chapters, such as e.g. pp. 259–274 (three consecutive subchapters on the blue duiker) and 357–364 (duikers in Bioko [Fernando Poo]). The contributing authors are shown on p. x with the titles of their (sub)chapters/appendices, but not with relevant page references.

 

(2) There is a separate chapter on duikers in North American zoological gardens, but a chapter on duikers in European zoos is sadly missing. The Frankfurt am Main zoo is frequently mentioned, but those in London and Antwerp have had more extensive experience with (almost) all species. In addition, who does not remember the successful breeding programme of Maxwell's duiker in Edinburgh in the 1970s and 1980s, now sadly a closed chapter in zoo history. Incidentally, Burgers' Zoo (Arnhem) keeps breeding families of blue duiker and bongo together, a biogeographically correct and charming sight of seemingly fully compatible antelopes.

 

(3) Another chapter is titled `Duikers in African zoos', but this fails to include the South African zoological gardens with good records of duiker keeping – Pretoria, Johannesburg and East London. However, the paper by Brand (1963) on the breeding of mammals in the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria throughout the first half of its long history is quoted – this publication lists data on three species of duiker bred here.

 

The book covers about everything known of the duikers. I quote randomly: bushmeat, cave paintings, food (inclusive of the meat component), gait, predators, veterinary care, and so on. Any book on endangered animals should contain discussions on the issues of conservation, and Wilson does not let the student down here. Duikers are mostly threatened by the now huge bushmeat trade, which obviously involves really stupendous numbers of duikers. Duikers are prolific and can stand a considerable amount of hunting pressure, but massive commercial bushmeat operations are indeed too much for once-abundant duiker populations. Wilson laments the lack of charisma of duikers, as shown by his sometimes vain efforts to obtain grants for his research and survey work. Charisma in wild animals is a strange phenomenon. Personally I feel that meeting duikers in good zoological gardens is the best remedy against lack of empathy, because they are fascinating beasts – the movement of their little tails alone is positively endearing! Would more (endangered) species of duikers in European and North American zoos help us here?

 

A superb book in all respects, one of the best books on African mammals of the last decades – three cheers for Dr Wilson and his massive efforts that have matured so well!

 

A.C. van Bruggen

 

ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM, A SCRAPBOOK by Peggy P. Larson. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press, Tucson, 2002. 106 pp., 293 illus., soft cover. ISBN 1–886679–20–7. $24.95 from the Publications Department, 2021 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ 85743, U.S.A.

 

Two thousand and two was a banner year for the publication of books describing the development of those collections of living creatures that we call zoos. Lord Zuckerman, in the book Great Zoos of the World (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), placed the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in a category called `Specialist Collections', alongside the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and Jersey Zoo; and indeed, even though it is an accredited member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, it does not have any of the large species like elephants, giraffes or great apes. But ever since its opening in September 1952 it has drawn thousands of people who left with a greater sense of the wonders of nature to be found living in the great Sonora Desert of the United States and Mexico.

 

The museum is one of those places that you have to find, for it is not in the heart of the city, but on the outskirts, surrounded on all sides by natural beauty. The many drawings and photographs in this book, almost all in color, depict this beauty, and how it is presented to visitors. The book is divided into four sections which tell about how it all began, the exhibits and how they were developed, the animals and the people. Many of the people, though, are really mentioned on almost every page: there have been so many innovators in all aspects of the museum. Peggy Larson's husband Mervin was one of the real pioneers in the showing of animals in indoor dioramas and large outdoor exhibits, which looked so natural. They have now been copied by many of the zoos of the world in what we like to call `immersion exhibits' today.

 

Ever since its founding the museum has devoted much of its energies to education, to let the public know not only what the Desert has to offer, but how to care for it, to ensure its preservation, through dynamic exhibits and story boards which explain it. It has a photograph of each and every director, no matter how short their tenure was, with comments they have made about the museum. The manner in which all this is told will keep you fascinated, as I was. This is a book that deserves a place on your bookshelf.

 

Marvin L. Jones

 

LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel. Canongate, 2002. 319 pp., hardback. ISBN 1–84195–245–1. £12.99.

 

The Man Booker Prize is the most prestigious British literary award, presented each year to the finest Commonwealth novel of the previous twelve months. In 2002 the recipient was Yann Martel, a hitherto little-known writer whose Life of Pi very quickly established itself as one of the year's best-selling novels once it had been given the Booker crown. Life of Pi is a truly magnificent novel, fully deserving the recognition it received. It is the story of a young Indian boy – Pi – who finds himself shipwrecked with just a hyena, an orang-utan, a zebra and a tiger for company. The hyena soon eats the zebra and the orang-utan, and is in turn consumed by the tiger, leaving Pi alone with a very large feline companion as he floats around the Pacific Ocean. Such a synopsis might suggest an allegorical novel, a fairy story, but this is not the case: Life of Pi is, in many ways, a naturalistic novel in which the boy's attempts to survive are dealt with in a realistic way. And this is where the place of a review of a novel in the pages of International Zoo News may become apparent, for, in amongst the narrative, Martel has much to say about zoos and – to a much lesser extent – circuses. Pi's father is the superintendent of a zoo, and the shipwreck comes about when the animals from that zoo are being transferred to America. Quite clearly, though, Martel knows his zoos: Hediger is quoted, and more good sense is written here about the rights and wrongs of captivity than I have seen in any number of more conventional zoo books. For example, when Pi considers the notion of liberty as it relates to wild animals, he concludes:

 

I have heard a great deal of nonsense about zoos. Well-meaning but misinformed people think animals in the wild are `happy' because they are `free'. These people usually have a large, handsome predator in mind, a lion or a cheetah (the life of a gnu or of an aardvark is rarely exalted). They imagine this wild animal roaming about the savannah on digestive walks after eating a prey that accepted its lot piously, or going for callisthenic runs to stay slim after overindulging. They imagine this animal overseeing its offspring proudly and tenderly, the whole family watching the setting of the sun from the limbs of trees with sighs of pleasure. The life of the wild animal is simple, noble and meaningful, they imagine. Then it is captured by wicked men and thrown into tiny jails. Its `happiness' is dashed. It yearns mightily for `freedom' and does all it can to escape. Being denied its `freedom' for too long, the animal becomes a shadow of itself, its spirit broken. So some people imagine.

 

      This is not the way it is.

 

Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured. What is the meaning of freedom in such a context? Animals in the wild are, in practice, free neither in space nor in time, nor in their personal relations. In theory – that is, as a simple physical possibility – an animal could pick up and go, flaunting all the social conventions and boundaries proper to its species. But such an event is less likely to happen than for a member of our own species, say a shopkeeper with all the usual ties – to family, to friends, to society – to drop everything and walk away from his life with only the spare change in his pockets and the clothes on his frame. If a man, boldest and most intelligent of creatures, won't wander from place to place, a stranger to all, beholden to none, why would an animal, which is by temperament far more conservative? For that is what animals are, conservative, the smallest changes can upset them.

 

There is more, much more, like this in the rest of the novel, to say nothing of a wonderful story, beautifully told, which, by its end, does have an allegorical point to impart. Interviewed by the BBC prior to the award of the Booker Prize, Martel chose to be filmed in Wuppertal Zoo; profiles of him have spoken of time spent in Indian zoos. He clearly knows what he is talking about, and even the most pedantic of readers is unlikely to find anything here with which to disagree.

 

There have been several `literary' novels set in and around zoos: Russell Hoban's Turtle Diary, Angus Wilson's The Old Men at the Zoo and Setting Free The Bears by John Irving spring to mind (perhaps readers of IZN can nominate others?). But I would suggest that never before has a novel been written which has such an accurate and sympathetic feel for the world of zoos, nor such an intelligent understanding of the relationship between people and captive animals.

 

John Tuson

 

BABOON MOTHERS AND INFANTS by Jeanne Altmann. University of Chicago Press, 2001. xxx + 242 pp., paperback. ISBN 0–226–01607–2. $17.00 or £11.00.

 

This paperback is a reissue, with a new foreword, of a book originally published in 1980 which has become a classic among primate field studies. It is just one product of the continuing research project which Jeanne and her husband Stuart Altmann have been conducting for more than three decades with the baboons of Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

 

There is a Gary Larson cartoon that shows one female baboon grooming another, and saying `So then Sheila says to Betty that Arnold told her what Harry was up to, but Betty told me she already heard it from Blanche. . .' Anthropomorphic, yes, but a fair insight into the new concept of primate social structure of which Baboon Mothers and Infants is an early exponent. Previous studies had tended to focus on the males, whose size, aggressiveness and apparent dominance seemed to mark them out as the key figures in baboon society. (Interestingly, a similar macho view was prevalent at the time in speculations about human origins.) But in the present study Jeanne Altmann was able to expose what has subsequently been described as the `myth of the primate male'. Her in-depth portrayal of the relationships between mothers, infants and the group as a whole showed that female lives and reproductive careers were at least as important as those of males for understanding primate societies, life histories, and behavioural evolution.

 

The group of baboons studied numbered around 45, including ten adult males, 17 adult females and 15 subadults and juveniles of both sexes. About ten infants were born each year, of whom six or seven survived the first year of life (the period of strong dependence on the mother). Overall group numbers seem to have remained fairly stable. Crucially for a study of this kind, every individual was identified and given a name for reference purposes; positions – frequently shifting – in dominance hierarchies were noted.

 

The study's main aims were to identify and measure the factors affecting behaviour and survival during motherhood and infancy, and to identify the likely developmental origins of differences in adult behaviour and life histories. Numerous questions arose from these aims: what effects maternal age and rank, and infant gender, have on infant mortality; whether mothers' time budgets are affected by their rank, and if so, what effect this in turn has upon infant care; in what ways a female's rank and social life changes when she gives birth. . . Baboons are highly intelligent animals who live in large and extremely complex societies. Baboon Mothers and Infants was a historic milestone on our road to understanding that complexity.

 

Nicholas Gould

 

                                   *   *   *

 

ANNUAL REPORTS

 

HOWLETTS AND PORT LYMPNE WILD ANIMAL PARKS, U.K., Summer 2001 to Summer 2002

Extracts from Help Newsletter No. 24

 

Primates

 

Twenty-one small primates were successfully parent-reared at the two parks – two moloch gibbons, eight Javan langurs (Trachypithecus auratus), one dusky langur (T. obscurus), one banded leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophos) one grizzled leaf monkey (P. comata), four colobus, two howler monkeys and two Diana monkeys.

 

Our moloch gibbon colony continues to grow. A new pair set up last year conceived their first infant within two months of introduction and produced a healthy daughter in April 2002, whom they are rearing. A transfer was arranged with Munich Zoo, the only other European institution to hold moloch gibbons, who had a father and son. We sent a Howletts-born female to pair with their Munich-born male; both were born in 1988. Meanwhile their older male came here and was paired up with a young Howletts female. In May 2002 further changes saw a pair of molochs transferred to Port Lympne to a larger and more stimulating environment, and another new pair was formed from Howletts-born individuals. Another group, a mother with two young daughters whose father had died two years ago, required the introduction of an unrelated male, but this had to be organised with caution, as it was uncertain how he would react to taking over another male's family. The two adults were introduced in a different enclosure without problems. Then the male was taken to the daughters' enclosure, and following friendly interactions, the mother was returned to join them. It had taken only two days to integrate the new male into the family.

 

Our small colony of grizzled leaf monkeys is doing well. The first Howletts-born female was transferred from her natal group to join another breeding pair. This introduction was timed to coincide with the move of the pair and their son into larger accommodation – introductions are generally more easily made in novel territory. This gives us one group of four and another of six. Two grizzled females are currently pregnant and should give birth before the end of the year.

 

Javan langur numbers continue to grow. We have three breeding groups at Howletts, each with individuals of both pelage colour phases, black (melanistic) and brown (erythristic). In the wild, black is the typical colour for this species, but individuals of the brown form are found within a restricted area of eastern Java. In this region groups can be found with both colour morphs as in our animals. All our original imported langurs were of the brown morph, and the first black individual was born in 1987. Out of 92 full-term births at Howletts (1984–2002), nearly 30% have been black. In our experience so far, brown is the dominant gene and black is recessive. So pairings of brown with brown, or black with brown, can result in individuals of either colour, whereas black with black will only produce black. Of course, just to complicate the issue, all infants have apricot-coloured coats at birth, and pink faces. This infant coloration gradually changes as the adult coat appears between three and six months old. However, only infants who will be brown as adults are completely apricot: those which will be black exhibit some black hair, typically on the tail and to a lesser extent on the back.

 

We had our 100th gorilla birth during the year and the figure now stands at 101; at 30 September 2002, gorilla numbers totalled 71 (31.40). Among births, perhaps the most noteworthy was that to Sidonie, as she was already 30 when her first infant, a male, was born. We were concerned about her ability to rear an infant because of the lack of grip in her hands and feet, and also because of her `oddball' personality, the result of her upbringing as a pet in a Paris apartment. However, she turned out to have a strong maternal instinct, carrying the baby well and showing a lot of care and affection towards him. But unfortunately she did not produce much milk and did not let him suckle much, so after six days he had to be removed for hand-rearing. But as she showed so much promise this time, we think Sidonie may be able, with some help from us, to rear her next infant herself.

 

Following her latest pregnancy, Bamilla, a female who has consistently failed to care for her infants, is now on a programme of contraceptive injections, as we don't think she will ever rear her offspring. Also, as she conceives immediately after the removal of an infant, she has been becoming pregnant every year, which is likely to be detrimental to her health.

 

In July 2002 four young males left Howletts for Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta, Indonesia. As they grew older, their presence in their family group was causing tension and fighting, with their father Kijo beginning to regard them as potential rivals, while they treated him with less respect than he demanded. They are now in Jakarta in a 3,000-m2 enclosure filled with fruit trees, edible shrubs, banana plants, coconut palms, sugar cane, caves and waterfalls.

 

Carnivores

 

For the first time at Howletts, we have three pairs of clouded leopards with the potential for breeding. Our youngest pair, who were put together last year, are male Nango and female Nhi Ha, the latter born at Peter James's Santago Rare Leopard Project and so bringing in an unrelated bloodline. Our 17-year-old wild-caught male, Arjan, was put with the Howletts-born female Sulu. Although hopes of this pair breeding are slim, it enables Sulu to become used to males and provides company for Arjan in his old age. The current breeding pair, Chiang and Thai, produced a male, Ben, at the end of May 2002. We sent another pair to Port Lympne, giving us the opportunity to revamp their cage and allocate it to Ben, who will be joined later this year by a female from unrelated stock.

 

Another litter of hunting dogs was born at Port Lympne, and they were raised to weaning point without problems. Then there was a repetition of last year's trouble [see IZN 49 (3), p. 172]; we started to notice pups walking strangely, and they were all removed for aggressive, and successful, veterinary treatment. During the summer we had installed ultraviolet lights in the dens, so that this time, whatever the weather, there would be enough light for the pups' skin to produce vitamin D and enable the calcium supplements to be absorbed properly. But it is now thought that on both occasions the pups were suffering not from rickets, but from a condition called nutritional secondary hyper-thyroidism. Next time we hope to prevent the condition by altering the dogs' diet over the weaning period.

 

There was a more severe problem with the bush dogs, who were hit by a particularly virulent virus resulting in the deaths of about half our colony. The symptoms came on very rapidly – total loss of appetite followed by severe diarrhoea, and a reluctance to drink or to leave their nest box. After ten days and a worsening situation, some of them had to be sedated to allow intravenous fluids to be administered. But every attempt resulted in disaster – they would repeatedly tangle or snap the drip line or become too distressed for it to be beneficial. Finally a vigorous regime was implemented whereby each animal was hand-caught and given fluids via subcutaneous injection for three days, but one more dog died before the disease finally came under control. This was the worst outbreak of any illness ever seen in either park, and no definitive diagnosis was ever reached despite strenuous efforts being made and samples submitted.

 

A female caracal had a recurring problem over two years, when she repeatedly removed fur from both sides of her body. This behaviour was baffling, as flea and hormonal problems had been ruled out. A breakthrough was finally made when she was discovered to have an acute allergy to rabbit; since this was removed from her diet we have seen a noticeable difference.

 

Both female margays at Port Lympne produced single kittens which were successfully raised. Since then we have made an exchange of cats with the Ridgeway Trust: three of our animals have gone to live in Belize, and in return we have received 3.1 margays from unrelated bloodlines. We are hoping for a successful breeding season next year with our new groups.

 

CCTV equipment is now up and running in the rusty-spotted cat house. It was originally installed to monitor breeding and to discover why the female persistently loses her young, an event which has not yet happened since installation. With 24-hour video surveillance it has become possible to plot the behaviour patterns of these elusive cats. The plan is to catalogue their behaviour over a 12-month period, though after just a short time it became apparent that this pair are exclusively diurnal in their habits. Nocturnal activity has only been observed for very short periods and usually coincides with drinking or defecation.

 

Hoofstock

 

Four American bison and three banteng were born, but further breeding will be prevented as both species have become difficult to place in other zoos. Other births included one bongo, two European bison, one water buffalo, 12 barasingha, five sambar and three hog deer. Nilgai have not been bred this year as there are such a large number already; the Howletts breeding male is now living at Port Lympne alongside the sambar. The Eld's deer at Port Lympne are not doing well, and we are down to five individuals; they calve in December, which is a bad time for any youngsters, and it is hoped that they can be moved to Howletts, into a smaller, less exposed enclosure.

 

Black rhino numbers stood at 23 (9.14) on 30 September 2002. In autumn 2001, desperate measures were needed to save Solio, Rukwa's two-month-old female calf, following four weeks of diarrhoea caused by a viral infection. She had not responded to conservative treatment and by the beginning of October was clearly becoming weaker. Rukwa's last calf had died the previous year aged three months from an intestinal infection, and we were desperate not to allow history to repeat itself. On 11 October Solio was sedated and separated from Rukwa. She was placed on an intravenous drip through which she would receive all her nutrition for the next few days. Staff took it in turn to stay with her night and day in order to change the drip bags and help try to calm her. After four days on the drip we were also feeding her Lectade, a rehydrating fluid, by bottle. Section head Berry White managed to milk Rukwa, and on the fifth and sixth days Solio was taken off the drip and bottle-fed her mother's milk, initially watered down, and at gradually increased strength as she became used to it again. After six days the two were successfully reunited. Solio went on to make a full recovery.

 

Sadly, Lucia, our 30-year-old female rhino on loan from Rome Zoo, was euthanased in December 2001 after a sudden and totally debilitating illness. Post-mortem results showed she had been suffering from iron storage disease. She was a great personality, but unfortunately never bred at Port Lympne; at least she was able to spend her last few years out in our paddocks.

 

Jaga, a ten-year-old female from Dvur Králové, Czech Republic, gave birth to a male calf, to whom she is totally devoted. Despite being left with her mother as a baby, Jaga was bottle-fed as her mother had no milk. She finds social relations with her own species difficult, and as a result suffered some big setbacks in her first year or so with us. After an appalling fight with our bull Baringo, it took her a long time to regain any confidence with other rhinos, but she eventually did so alongside her friend Ruaha, and when the male Addo was put with them last year, she became pregnant within two weeks of the first mating. Three (2.1) other calves were also born during the year, and two cows are confirmed pregnant.

 

Elephants

 

No breeding has taken place with the African elephants at Howletts. The reasons for this are uncertain. Only three of the cows are cycling, so it is possible that the presence of two bulls in the group is preventing the females coming into season. But we personally suspect that the bulls are suppressing each other. When our first births took place, in the 1980s, there was only one adult bull in the group, as there was in the mid-1990s when four cows conceived – our other bull, Ben, arrived after conception had taken place. It is for this reason that we are looking to place Ben at another zoo on breeding loan, and also to send the male Osh, who is now nine years old, to a zoo in California. We will then be able to allow the breeding bull Jums back in with all the cows, and hope that when he is the only dominant bull within the group, they will become receptive again.

 

After many years of hard work and dedication from keepers past and present, Port Lympne elephant section has achieved its first mother-reared Asian elephant calf. At the beginning of the year, female Khaing Phyo Phyo, who came to us from Rotterdam, began visibly to put on weight, and in May the vets started her on a calcium phosphate supplement. Preparations for the birth included installing baby rails in the cow house. It was agreed that Khaing Phyo Phyo would have her calf indoors, so that keepers and vets would be on hand to assist if complications arose. Our plan was to put her in with her best friend, Yu Yu Yin, during the birth – both are experienced mothers. In the early morning of 30 June 2002 she gave birth to a strong, healthy bull calf. The keepers were on hand, and because of their close bond with her she allowed them to assist in removing the embryonic sac from the calf. Throughout the whole delivery she was very calm and took comfort from Yu Yu Yin's presence. Within a few hours the calf was drinking from his mother and was the centre of attention. He has been named Sittang, after a river on the Indo-Burmese border, to reflect his own mixed Indian–Burmese parentage. We have been very unlucky with our elephants at Port Lympne, having had stillbirths, miscarriages and, worst of all, the death of Ashoka – whose mother had killed her first calf – from a bone-weakening disease after living for a year. Happily, Sittang is thriving, suckling from both his mother and his aunt.

 

PISTOIA ZOO, ITALY

Annual Report 2002

 

The Pistoia Zoological Garden, although only created in 1970, is one of Italy's most `traditional' zoos. In fact, it has usually maintained one of the country's richest animal collections, including all major zoo animal species, in a limited area of seven hectares. Although far from adequate, the development and collection data of Pistoia Zoo are among the best documented in the country: for instance, it provided data to the International Zoo Yearbook annual statistics from 1975 onwards. On the other hand, the general design of the zoo appears outdated, relying on a `stamp collection' concept housed in functionalist exhibits. As a result of its general appearance, the zoo's good results in the maintenance and breeding of many species remain largely unnoticed and unappreciated by the general public.

 

In recent years, a series of small improvements have been introduced and the number of species has been reduced. However, only the recent acquisition of 6,000 m2 of land along the western border has made possible the planning of new enclosures for the large cats and the expansion of the wolves' enclosure (see below). In the meantime, the zoo management are beginning the process of developing a new philosophy and strategy aimed at improving both the cultural and economic assets of the institution. Given the scarcity of zoos in central Italy and the degree to which biodiversity issues are ignored in the country, it was decided to maintain the taxonomic and geographic diversity of the collection. However, it is planned to assemble most species in a geographically and ecologically coherent manner, and to devote particular attention to some Italian species. More space will be allocated to usually neglected groups such as insects and amphibians, and hopefully the zoo will soon begin to participate in a number of EEPs. Another aim of our future strategy is to present the zoo as a necessary complement to the exceptional heritage of natural history collections found in Tuscany (including, among others, one of the two oldest botanical gardens in the world, founded in 1543 in Pisa, and one of the oldest zoological museums, `La Specola', founded in 1771 in Florence).

 

Animal collection and exhibits

 

Notable births during the year included 2 ring-tailed lemur, 2 brown capuchin, 2 pig-tailed macaque, 3 red-necked wallaby, 2 mara, 2 yak, 5 Montecristo Island goat, 6 little egret, 3 white stork, 1 black swan. New acquisitions included a pair of common marmoset, a pair of kookaburra, a single male Aldabra tortoise from Belpasso Zoo in Sicily, and a group of ten scarlet ibis.

 

The following animals died: 1 chimpanzee, 2 Abyssinian ground hornbill, 2 greater flamingo, 3 scarlet ibis.

 

At the end of the year the collection comprised a total of 710 animals of 48 mammal, 59 bird, 27 reptile, 1 amphibian and 2 invertebrate species.

 

The 11-member wolf pack was moved to a new 1,200-m2 enclosure, representing the beginning of the greatest development phase in the last 20 years of the zoo's history. New tiger and lion enclosures, each measuring about 1,000 m2, will be completed in the first half of 2003.

 

Education, conservation and research

 

Another major development has been the launch of educational programmes especially designed for primary schools. About 2,000 school children attended the programmes of the `biodiversity laboratory' which opened in 2001. Domestic animals and woodland biodiversity formed the focus of many educational activities. Work for an updated zoo guide was almost completed.

 

An agreement was signed with the Department of Biology of the University of Florence to enhance the scientific utilisation of the collection, with particular attention to its management and welfare. Research on ring-tailed lemur behaviour in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Pisa is continuing, and the first results on olfactory communication have just been published in a peer-reviewed journal. A consulting conservationist will serve as supervisor of the newly-established Conservation Unit, whose objectives are the co-ordination of both ex situ and in situ activities. The first conservation initiative was a short-term visit to Guinea-Bissau in December to make a first conservation assessment of chimpanzee population status in this small West African country within the framework of the IUCN/SSC West African Chimpanzee Action Plan.

 

Spartaco Gippoliti

 

NATURZOO RHEINE, GERMANY

Excerpts from the Annual Report 2001

 

Changes in the animal collection were very obvious: some very old `personalities' died, and when replacements arrived they attracted great attention from zoo visitors. Foot-and-mouth disease caused – as everywhere else in Europe – precautionary actions and considerable delays in animal transfers.

 

Three female ring-tailed lemurs gave birth to a total of five young. The oldest mother has become blind over the years, but this does not hinder her severely. She is very well habituated to her surroundings and is able to adapt to any changes in the enclosure. And rearing the young – twins this year – causes no problems for her or for the babies.

 

Both common squirrel monkeys gave birth. One died following problematic delivery of a dead baby. The male infant of the second female was found motionless on the cage floor at the age of two weeks. The baby was still alive but cooled down severely. The mother showed no more interest in him. We warmed up the baby and he recovered, but the mother would still not approach him. In a last attempt we caught the female and let her young cling on her back. She accepted this and started to care for him again. Both were separated from the remaining squirrel monkeys (just two males); when we tried to re-unite the animals, the female showed increasing signs of nervousness, so she stayed separated for many weeks.

 

Introducing the new male lion-tailed macaque Clinton, who arrived at the end of 2000 from Apenheul, with our female Vera and her daughter Asha caused considerable thought and effort. The macaques had made acquaintance with each other for many weeks from neighbouring cages. We chose the date of a full oestrus of Vera for finally combining the three animals, in the hope that Clinton would immediately find a `special interest' in Vera. All looked fine at first, but three days later Clinton attacked Asha – at this time one-and-a-half years old – so severely that intensive veterinary treatment was necessary to save her life. Asha recovered, but we did not risk putting her and her mother in with Clinton again. Infanticide in lion-tailed macaques is a well-known occurrence; even immature animals two years old have been victims at other places. Because of the generally not very promising situation of the population in European zoos, each young animal – and especially females – is of great importance for stabilizing the situation. So we decided to wait for a new introduction until Asha was out of risk. To give Clinton at least a companion, Wilhelma Zoo, Stuttgart, offered their old female Nicole. But introducing her to Clinton was not a success: the female showed signs of permanent stress. However, much to our surprise it was easy to combine her with Vera and Asha. So we ended with a group of three females and a male kept single. A new strategy for establishing a breeding group of lion-tailed macaques was discussed among the persons involved and was to come into practice in early 2002.

 

The developments in our groups of gelada baboons were much more positive. One of the three females born in 2001 founded our fifth generation of this special primate species, for which Rheine keeps the International Studbook and coordinates the EEP. `Without prior notice' one of our groups split into two: one day we found a little group consisting of a full-grown male, his less developed half-brother and two younger females sitting and moving separately from the larger harem-group. Without any aggression between the established harem-leader and the younger males, the latter ones had `won the hearts' of the two ladies – or better, the females had chosen these former playmates as future mates. So we now have two harems in one enclosure and a third kept separately in a second enclosure. The adult male Düsi of the latter group had to be euthanized at the age of 16 years after suffering severely from osteodystrophia fibrosa for a long time. At the time of his death Düsi was the second-oldest gelada in a European zoo. He will be replaced by a male born at Rheine who is largely unrelated to the widowed females and who is currently kept in a bachelor group at Colchester Zoo.

 

Within our five-strong (2.3) family group of white-handed gibbons, some indications of stress and incompatibility came up for the first time. The father and his fully adult son harassed 11-year-old female Bessy more and more. No real aggression, e.g. biting, occurred, but Bessy felt more and more uncomfortable, often sitting for hours – and later even for days – in a corner of the enclosure. We finally separated her. She had to be kept single from this time on, as we couldn't find a place for her at another zoo. However, living alone seems to be no problem for her. She is lively, playful and is answer-singing with her family. Only the visitors showed altered behaviour – whereas they have always been amused and impressed by the loud singing of the gibbon group, they now complained that the `lonely' gibbon cries because she is kept single.

 

Besides the above-mentioned male gelada, a number of other long-lived personalities among the animal stock died from age-related illnesses. The Shetland pony stallion reached 30 years, the male Bactrian camel Sahib 25 years, and the male Sumatran tiger Sumo died at 17 years old. Sumo was the last tiger born in our zoo in 1984. He lived at first with his mother until he got the female Friederike, born in 1989 at Tierpark Berlin, as a mate. Two litters of cubs were born from them but not raised, and after difficulties in delivering a third litter Friederike was no longer able to reproduce. With the death of Sumo we had to come to a decision how to go on with Sumatran tigers at Rheine Zoo. In agreement with the EEP we decided to transfer Friederike at another zoo with an old male or one who is not recommended for breeding. Meanwhile we will start again with a new potential breeding pair. As a first step we welcomed female Kim, born in 2000 at Rotterdam Zoo, by the end of the year. Kim had considerable problems habituating to her new surroundings and keepers, and we felt it was at least a little bit of help to have the experienced Friederike as a neighbouring companion, but we never tried to combine the two females.

 

Other new arrivals were a promising male camel from Wilhelma, a male alpaca from Hannover Zoo, and a Chapman's zebra stallion from Dvur Králové Zoo, Czech Republic. The latter arrived after more than a year of preparation: transport had to be postponed several times because of the FMD outbreak in Europe and the hot summer weather.

 

Notable births among the mammals were 4 sitatunga, 1 harbour seal and no fewer than 18 Cuban hutias. Breeding results with the Humboldt's penguins have gone down over the years. Nearly half of the penguins we keep are around 20 years old, and it seemed likely that this considerable age was a reason for their lack of reproduction. However, we could not be sure that an imbalance of the sexes had not arisen by our retaining offspring from past years. We therefore took feather samples from all individuals for genetic sexing. The results confirmed all our observations on paired birds. So at least the sex-ratio is not a reason for the failures.

 

In the same way, we have no real idea why breeding success in the Wetland Aviary has also been going down for years. This year we even had no hatchings at all of scarlet ibis and roseate spoonbill. We feared that a marten or stoat might be responsible for this. But if so, the predator worked very selectively as the little egrets, also kept in this aviary, reared an all-time high of 20 young in one season. As we had not the keeping staff capacity, we limited rearing of waders, but caring for 32 redshank and 39 ruff chicks caused more than enough work and effort. Ruffs are very much sought-after by other zoos, and this year's offspring travelled to Paignton Zoo, U.K., and several other destinations.

 

A `first' for Rheine was the natural rearing of a male crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus). We have been keeping a group of 2.3 of these impressive birds since 1998, and nest-building and also hatchings occurred last year for the first time. With additional feeding of mealworms, raw minced meat and boiled egg-yolk, we obviously offered a sufficient amount of protein for the successful rearing of a chick. It was highly impressive to see an adult-sized youngster emerging from the huge nest, and it was hard to imagine that he had found enough room in his `nursery' at all.

 

The textor weavers, by contrast, had many more than just one chick – by the end of the year we counted 88 individuals, so the 14 young have more than outbalanced the losses over the year.

 

New arrivals in the bird department were a female superb fruit dove, a female crested wood partridge and three Cape thick-knees, all from Frankfurt Zoo, a female Bali mynah from Rotterdam and a pair of magpie geese from Magdeburg.

 

Achim Johann

 

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INTERNATIONAL ZOO NEWS

 

Alpenzoo, Innsbruck, Austria

 

On 22 September 2002, the zoo opened a new aviary for the northern bald ibis or waldrapp. These are sun-loving birds, so the sunniest place in the zoo was chosen as the site, and the southerly exposure offers optimal opportunities to catch any sunshine available. This means that the birds can be kept outdoors, even during cold weather. Crucial to their warmth in winter is the fact that the first morning sun reaches the concrete wall at the back, to heat up the sleeping places, even when the glass roof is covered by snow. The size (300 m2) and shape of the aviary allow the birds to fly in generous loops. Two hedges on the east side (one inside the enclosure and one in the visitor area) offer protection from visitors, hiding places for smaller birds (the exhibit also houses hoopoes and rock buntings), and possibly nest sites.

 

The birds are presented in a natural habitat of the type the species probably used when it still lived in the Alps (up to the 16th century). Overall, the aviary resembles a dry river bank edged by high cliffs. The ground is covered with gravel and sand. This substrate is nearly 70 cm thick to keep the surface dry even during long periods of rain. All plants in the exhibit are European species which are well adapted to the dry and sunny conditions found on south-facing slopes. The shrubs (12 species) are typical of the South Alpine region. The bushes at the east side of the aviary are representatives of thermophile species from the warmer part of the Alps. Within the artificial cliffs, typical rock species like Asplenium and Sedum are planted; these are watered by the rainwater which is collected on the glass roof.

 

The cliffs and riverbank are made of concrete that contains three different types and sizes of gravel, to create a very natural appearance and highlight the layering effect of a river bank. (This material is sold under the name of `Creative Concrete', and was developed by Goldau Zoo in Switzerland.) Two ledges at different heights provide nest sites; these are as natural as possible, modelled after the ledges that are commonly used as nest sites in the wild. Their height and size allows the display courtship behaviour which in this species preferably takes place at the nest site. Although the cliffs are fully exposed to the sun, the shapes of the ledges provide enough shade so that nests, nestlings and breeding pairs are protected against overheating during summer. A quarter of the roof is covered with glass to keep these and the sleeping places dry. The feeding site is also sheltered against rain and snow, and can be heated during winter. A shallow pool at a safe distance from the visitors allows birds to take their daily bath undisturbed. To encourage foraging, insects are provided in special boxes.

 

As this is a walk-through aviary, close and undisturbed observation of the birds during foraging, bathing and courtship is possible. The waldrapp is an excellent flier, which is made very visible to visitors because of the vast space in the aviary. The public are kept to a broad path; there is no fence between them and the birds, but the ground level of the birds' area is 0.4 m higher than the path to prevent people entering it. Interpretation features include information about the biology and fate of the waldrapp. One sign presents the different head patterns of individuals, making it possible to distinguish the birds – an enjoyable `who's who' activity.

 

The waldrapp is known to be a rather shy bird. Its ability to learn is mainly restricted to the first three years, and older birds need a long time to accept new partners or structures. Moving the whole 30-strong colony, comprising mostly older birds, from the aviary they had occupied for 40 years offered a unique research opportunity. We are studying how the birds cope with the new aviary and whether the change of environment has an influence on social ranking within the group.

 

Since 1988 the Alpenzoo has coordinated the EEP for the species, and thanks to behavioural research – much of it done here – and good husbandry, there are now more than 800 birds in the programme. In response to the high captive-breeding success, the idea of releasing captive-born birds is being intensively discussed. While we know much about this species, we still lack knowledge on behaviours crucial to the success of a reintroduction project, e.g. migration and learning. Hand-rearing a small group of birds and teaching them to cope with a new environment seems to be a promising method. In the northern bald ibis, as in many other bird species, the migration route seems to be passed on as a family tradition. The proximate aim of an Austrian two-year project (see www.waldrappteam.at) is to test if a proper migration route can be taught to juvenile birds. A method to establish a migration tradition from Austria to Italy in a group of hand-raised waldrapp was first tested in summer 2002.

 

Abridged and adapted from the Alpenzoo presentation in the ZooLex Gallery at www.zoolex.org. [Visitors to the website will find many more technical details and numerous colour photos of this exhibit – Ed.]

 

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio, U.S.A.

 

The zoo officially opened the Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center on 14 November 2002. The Center is a unique partnership that includes the zoo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio State University, the Ohio River Valley Ecosystem Research Team, the Mussel Mitigation Trust and Columbus Recreation and Parks. Not open to the public, the Center will focus on scientific study of imperiled native mussels, with the ultimate goal of restoring the population of existing mussels within Ohio and the surrounding areas. North America has the most diverse freshwater mussel population in the world, including nearly 300 species [see IZN 49 (2), pp. 100–101]. Mussels are important indicators of the health and quality of our aquatic environments, which affect not only other types of wildlife but also human drinking water. With over 55% of the species extinct or considered imperiled, the mussels are one of the most endangered groups of animals on the continent.

 

Communiqué (January 2003)

 

Denver Zoo, Colorado, U.S.A.

 

The zoo recently opened Congo Basin, the latest feature of our Millennium Master Plan, signaling the completion of Primate Panorama's exhibition complex. Built on slightly over half an acre [0.2 ha] adjacent to the outdoor gorilla enclosure, Congo Basin comprises three spacious habitats enclosed by woven stainless steel mesh and reaching heights of up to 24 feet [7.3 m]. These are supported by a concealed 1,700-square-foot [160 m2] animal holding building which contains seven primate rooms, three cages for birds and small mammals, and a keeper work area. Animal rooms are bathed in natural light provided by windows and skylights. The building is also equipped with fire sprinklers and a highly sensitive air sampling smoke detection system designed to detect a fire at its earliest stages, to safeguard the exhibit's valuable animal residents.

 

Other elements of the new exhibit include an extension of our exhibit for African red river hogs located nearby. Our success in breeding this species has prompted us to enlarge their facility by adding a second outdoor habitat (1,500 square feet or 140 m2) for these attractive wild swine as well as another heated holding building to better manage these unique pigs. Due to its proximity to the mandrills' enclosure, we are linking the two exhibits so that a future mixed-species display may be possible.

 

Other species exhibited include African silvery-cheeked hornbills, blue duikers and De Brazza's monkeys. But the animal `stars' of Congo Basin are unquestionably our troop of mandrills. Although well known and admired for centuries, mandrills have been little studied in the wild until relatively recently. Scientists investigating these big monkeys in the Lope Reserve of Gabon have discovered that they travel over unusually long distances and in spectacularly large numbers. They are constantly foraging for food and may cover three to five miles [5–8 km] in a day over a huge home range in excess of one hundred square miles [260 km2], the largest known for any primate species. Mandrills have been described as `finicky omnivores', as they eat a little bit of a lot of things – nuts, fruits, grass, leaves, fungi, insects, etc. Over the course of five years of study at Lope, scientists have tallied mandrill groups as large as 1,350 individuals, the greatest aggregation of non-human primates ever recorded. But despite such large numbers, the future prospects for mandrill survival in the wild are cloudy. Biologists are extremely concerned that they, along with many other species, are especially vulnerable to the recent increase in the bushmeat trade, which many conservationists believe far outstrips habitat loss as a threat to the survival of primates and other wildlife. Mandrills could very quickly move from their current threatened status to endangered as a result.

 

Abridged and adapted from Clayton F. Freiheit in The Zoo Review (Fall 2002)

 

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey, Channel Islands, U.K.

 

To make substantial, enduring change we need to save whole animal communities – and their future evolutionary potential. But how do we select which species to get involved with, and where? The Trust's Dr John Fa has been developing and scrutinising special maps, which combine animal and geographic information, to identify places where clusters of wild animals make a unique contribution to the planet's biological diversity. Consequently, we have defined a number of locations where we could make a long-term difference by saving groups of animals endemic to a self-contained spot, like an island or a mountain top. Now we are in the process of overlaying other tough criteria to decide to which of those places we should send our experts first. Cuba's Sierra Cristal mountains, in the far east of the island, may be one of them.

 

Sierra del Cristal National Park was the first area of Cuba to he protected. In this important mountain range live 220 species of plant, 53 spiders, 28 molluscs, Cuban parakeet ten amphibians, 19 reptiles, 51 birds and three mammals – of which 35% are endemic to Cuba or to this particular area. The Cuban solenodon is a primitive insectivore so rare that only 21 animals have been found since the 1800s. The Trust's graduate trainee Juan Soy and his survey team captured a solenodon during a 1999 Sierra Cristal expedition. Flocks of Cuban parakeets are still seen flying in the area, but the species is listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss and the removal of chicks from nests to keep as domestic pets. There are ten recorded species of Anolis lizard in Sierra Cristal, but the conservation status for each is unknown; field research is needed to discover the population sizes and distribution for these reptiles. Other animals of conservation concern include hutias, Gundlach's hawk and eight species of Eleutherodactylus frog.

 

Before we can decide whether to commit our expertise to help wildlife in Cuba, we are seeking answers to satisfy four broad criteria:

(1) What conservation problems must be overcome to save the animals? What is the status of the animals? What threats do they face? Are the solutions socio-economic, conservation management or both? Could the solution for these animals cause other adverse impacts on the environment? Would our work with this animal cluster yield wider conservation benefits?

(2) What can Durrell Wildlife uniquely contribute from its toolbox? Do we have the skills and experience needed? If not, where and how can we develop them? Can we define clear measures of success? Will we need captive breeding and, if so, where? Could we work directly with animals in the wild? Are there local conservationists to train?

(3) What in-country support and partnerships will be needed? What are local attitudes? Do we have graduates from our International Training Centre in significant roles there? What partners are in place or will be needed to bring special skills?

(4) What resources will be required? Over what time scale? Can we raise the funds for our role? Can we support a long-term commitment? Will our supporters want to help?

 

Adapted from On the Edge No. 93 (December 2002)

 

Jerez Zoo, Spain

 

Taking eggs from wild birds is illegal in Spain. However, eggs of some species, including avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta), are considered a delicacy and command high prices on the black market. On 21 May 2002, the environmental police department confiscated 114 avocet eggs that had been collected from a protected marsh area near Jerez. The poacher is facing a fine of Euros 36,000 [c. £24,000 or $36,000].

 

Injured or abandoned wild animals are cared for at Centro de Recuperación de Animales Silvestres (CRAS), the rehabilitation centre located at Jerez Zoo. The confiscated avocet eggs were therefore transported by car to the centre, where almost 20% had to be discarded because of shell damage. The remaining 92 were artificially incubated, and 69 hatched – a high rate, especially considering that some of them were already developing when they arrived. Hatching started ten days later, while total incubation time for the species is 25 days.

 

The chicks were initially placed in mesh cages suspended over water to facilitate cleaning and with infra-red lamps to provide warmth. Commercially prepared food for insectivorous birds, enriched fodder for hens, very small pieces of boneless fish and beef, mealworms and a mixture of vitamin and calcium supplement were supplied ad libitum. Food and water was distributed in small dishes. Hand-rearing was not performed to avoid problems caused by habituation (or imprinting) to humans as avocets are precocial birds. The chicks started to feed on their own immediately.

 

Once feather development began, the birds were placed in larger outdoor enclosures (with heat still supplied). In this phase, they were put in with two black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) and a Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) who arrived at CRAS with traumatic lesions. The avocets grew quickly, reaching 260 g after one month, and 54 ringed birds were released on 12 July 2002 in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Survival rates are not yet available, since the recovery reports are obtained only once a year.

 

This was not the first time that CRAS has had to face raising large numbers of chicks. In 1997 78 spoonbills were released from eggs of a colony that was flooded due to a high tide [see IZN 44 (6), 368–369].

 

Abridged from Mariano Cuadrado in EAZA News No. 41 (January–March 2003)

 

Loro Parque, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

 

As we are now well into 2003, we can finally analyse our breeding results for 2002. We ringed 1,310 chicks, an increase of approximately 14% compared to 2001. Not only the number of offspring was augmented, but also the total of species and subspecies bred; in 2002 this was 178, ten more than in the previous year.

 

Generally, not every species reproduces on a yearly basis. Out of the 178 taxa bred, only 131 had bred in 2001; the remaining 47 produced young either for the first time ever, or after a breeding pause. None the less, there are also 37 taxa which were successful in 2001 but did not produce offspring in 2002. The whole collection now comprises 342 parrot species and subspecies.

 

The first signs indicate that the 2003 season might also be exceptional. Traditionally, the first parrots to herald the new breeding season are the keas, and we are glad to say that our most reliable breeding pair has already laid a clutch of four eggs. At the same time, a pair of red-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) are brooding a single egg.

 

At present, the inhabitants of the Penguinarium are extremely busy. The gentoos already have ten youngsters which are being raised perfectly. We also had two pairs of rockhoppers penguins with eggs in their nests, though these unfortunately proved to be infertile. The king penguins have only just begun their breeding activity, with ten pairs each brooding a single egg.

 

Loro Parque's vet team is currently preparing the next European Association of Avian Veterinarians (EAAV) conference, which will take place here between 22 and 26 April and will be attended by over 60 speakers from around the world and more than 200 participants. Apart from theoretical presentations, there will also be a practice day at the end of the event which will enable the participating veterinarians to improve their skills in different fields of veterinarian medicine such as surgery or endoscopy.

 

Abridged from the report for January 2003 compiled by Matthias Reinschmidt, Curator, Loro Parque

 

Monarto Zoological Park, South Australia

 

On 20 September 2002, seven (3.4) white rhinos touched down at Adelaide airport direct from Kruger National Park in South Africa. In a planned and controlled team effort, the animals were transferred by three semi-trailers and a police escort to the park. Upon arrival, the rhinos, all aged between five and seven years, immediately commenced a 60-day period under strict control in their purpose-built quarantine habitat known as the rhino `boma' (an African word for night quarters). Following this quarantine period, the final destination for five of these animals is Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales.

 

Construction of the quarantine facility was made possible by a very generous donation by the Caddick family of Adelaide, which will have beneficial results for years to come, not only for the management of rhinos, but also – through visits and the media – for the education of the public about the animals' plight. It is hoped that the Caddick Rhino Boma, the largest in Australia, will serve to establish the Park as a centre for all future rhino importations into the Australasian region.

 

Chris Hannocks in South Australia's Zoonooz (Christmas 2002)

 

Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

 

The August 2002 floods had a fundamental impact on the extensive construction and exhibit development undertaken at the zoo in recent years. Seven new exhibits had opened to the public in the year 2001 alone, including comprehensive complexes for African ungulates and gorillas. The biggest project in the history of Czech zoos – the Indonesian Jungle House – was to be completed and opened to the public in 2003. All these operations have been deferred or changed by the floods.

 

Surviving houses in the flooded part of the premises are currently being reconstructed. The gorilla house, big cat house, large tortoise house, and penguin and seal house are to be repaired or reconstructed by the end of 2003. The elephant and hippo house, witness to the worst dramas of the floods, will be repaired only temporarily, as these animals are to be moved to the upper, safe part of the zoo in the future. Other houses and exhibits destroyed by the floods will not be rebuilt in the original fashion. As the lower part of the zoo is now designated a flood zone, an entirely new construction project is required to prevent further immense material damage and, above all, to prevent complications in evacuation of animals in the case of another flood. An area of approximately ten hectares will be used to display water birds, dominated by large flocks of flamingos and pelicans. Numerous islands will display primates (lemurs, guerezas, spider monkeys, mandrills) in coexistence with various amphibious mammals and water birds (pygmy hippopotamus, capybara, hutia, sitatunga, ibises, marabous, cranes, storks). The whole area will acquire the look of virgin nature, lacking any cages, aviaries or large buildings, and accessible on foot only. This natural site will include a refreshment area, children's playground with a contact animal garden, and a seasonal car park on the border of the area.

 

Repair of other premises damaged by the floods has also already been planned, including rebuilding the breeding, technological and educational facilities, which are also to be moved to the upper part of the zoo. The plans can hopefully be carried out during the next three years, and thereafter visitors to the zoo should discern no trace of the floods. The plans are there, now it is a matter of money. The costs have been estimated at Euros 11 million [c. £7.3 m or $11 m], including the most demanding construction – the new elephant house. So far, the zoo has managed to collect approximately half of the necessary amount.

 

Adapted from Petr Fejk in EAZA News No. 41 (January–March 2003)

 

Rotterdam Zoo, the Netherlands

 

The first Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) to be bred at the zoo officially hatched on 18 November 2002 – the egg pipped on 16 November and the hatchling emerged from the egg in the night of the 17th. This was the sole hatchling from a clutch of five eggs laid on 5 July. The other eggs were infertile, or possibly died at a very early stage. The adult group consists of two males donated by Dallas Zoo in 1999 and a male and female that came from two different private breeders, the female also in 1999 and the other male in 1987.

 

Rotterdam Zoo kept Gila monsters for more than two decades without any breeding success before the animals were transferred to their new `Sea of Cortez' enclosure in the Sonoran Desert habitat of the new Oceanium building in 2000. The improved temperature regime there – the temperature is allowed to drop to as low as 12°C in winter – may be the main key to this first success. Additionally, the fact that there are three males to one female is regarded as beneficial to the mating process, as the males can perform their ritualised combat.

 

Breeding of Gila monsters in European zoos has been rare: four hatched at Glasgow Zoo in 1989 and ten in 1991, and one hatched at London Zoo in 1989. The year 2002 is an important one for the Gila monster EEP, as after no hatchings in 11 years, three zoos virtually simultaneously produced young. One successfully hatched at Cologne Zoo on 12 October and four at Jihlava Zoo, Czech Republic, between 14 and 19 November.

 

The hatchling at Rotterdam seems to be doing well and started feeding readily on dead pink mice.

 

Gerard Visser in EAZA News No. 41 (January–March 2003)

 

Tallinn Zoo, Estonia

 

Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) have been kept at the zoo since 1981, when we acquired a pair from Yerevan Zoo, Armenia. We were happy to get them, the more so as this interesting carnivore is decreasing in the wild. The very next year they produced cubs, but unfortunately these did not survive: after the female had suckled them for some time, she got nervous at the noise of renovation work in the adjacent building and started carrying them around. Subsequently we have taken the new-born pups away and succeeded in rearing the majority of them. A number of zoos have bred this species, but few have achieved regular breeding. At Tallinn, 96 striped hyenas were born between 1982 and 1998, and 47 of them were reared. Our hyenas can be seen at zoos in Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, France, Russia, Ukraine, U.S.A., Japan, United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan.

 

After a three-year interval, our hyenas reproduced again. On 11 May 2002 a female gave birth to 2.0 cubs, and on 21 May another female gave birth to another 1.2. The weight of each new-born male was 600 g, the females weighed 650 g and 550 g. Hyenas are born helpless, blind and deaf. Although our keepers have good experience in raising hyenas, they had their hands full – in the first week, the cubs must be fed every two hours. Nursing and massage, nursing and massage, nursing and massage – 15–20 minutes for each pup, 75–100 minutes for all five. Then a short break, and the same routine starts again. But if the young hyenas are well taken care of, they normally gain 50–60 g a day and weigh a couple of kilos at the age of a month. They rapidly develop and it is a real pleasure to see them frolicking around. At the same time, the keepers must take care that the playing doesn't turn too rough and result in the playmates hurting or even killing each other (unluckily, we have seen this happen at our zoo).

 

At the time of writing our juvenile striped hyenas weigh ten kilos each. They are waiting for their transfer to some other zoo and being registered in the studbook kept by Amersfoort Zoo in the Netherlands. The first issue of the studbook (2000) listed 95 (52.43) striped hyenas in 39 zoos, a third of which were born at Tallinn Zoo.

 

But there was still a surprise in store for us. On 5 September, the female who was the second to give birth in spring presented us with another litter – a male (700 g) and two females (650 g and 600 g). Actually, that was to be expected. When we took away her young to be hand-reared in the spring, it had the same effect as the loss of a litter in nature, in which case, under favourable conditions, the breeding process starts anew. In captivity it has sometimes happened that a pair of striped hyenas produced offspring three times in a year.

 

Vladimir Fainstein and Tatjana Miljutina in Tallinn Zoo's calendar for 2003

 

Tama Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

 

At the zoo's insectarium several generations of swallowtail butterflies have been bred. Normally these insects pass the winter in the pupal stage, but here visitors can see butterflies all year round. Since swallowtails live only a week to ten days after eclosion (emergence from the chrysalis), it is necessary to rear them in large quantities in order to be able to see butterflies all year round. The biggest problem with this is providing plants for the larvae to feed on all year round. They can be reared on the soft young leaves of citrus trees. For the winter, the trees are pruned back drastically or moved into a greenhouse to force them to sprout new buds which can be fed to the larvae. This is the key to the year-round display of butterflies. Here there are 100 trees outdoors, and another 170 in pots for the winter.

 

In 2001 six species of swallowtails were reared on citrus leaves: Papilio xuthus, P. protenor, P. helenus, P. bianor, P. polytes and P. memnon. Of these, 920 P. polytes and 398 P. memnon emerged. Each species has its own preferred plant species and type of leaves. The zoo uses many little tricks to maintain the insects in good health and provide them with their favourite food.

 

English summary of article in Japanese by Osamu Yokota, published in Animals and Zoos Vol. 54, No. 12 (December 2002)

 

Walsrode Bird Park, Germany

 

We can report exciting developments in our collection of Madagascan birds. The delicate sickle-billed vangas (Falculea palliata) had shown no sign of reproductive activity since their arrival in January 2000. In March 2002, one pair played around with little twigs and investigated potential nest sites prepared in various parts of their enclosure. Since vangas are highly social and curious, intensively investigating everything that is novel, we did not pay much attention to these activities. We saw one bird sitting on a nest in the indoor area of the enclosure on 6 April, and found three eggs. Following our practice of artificially incubating first clutches of eggs of species that are rare either in captivity or in the wild, we removed the four eggs present in the nest one week later. Two chicks hatched on 26 April, while two embryos died shortly before hatching. The chicks were fed mainly with baby mice and rats, as with young trogons and other small insectivorous and carnivorous birds. Unfortunately, one chick died at the age of ten days, but the second grew up very well. However, the vangas did not produce a replacement clutch after we had removed the eggs, which is rather unusual for passerines. Sickle-billed vangas are quite intelligent birds, and perhaps the disturbance at the nest stopped all breeding activities.

 

We received five more sickle-billed vangas early this year, and now have four pairs and one juvenile bird, giving some hope that we can establish this species in captivity.

 

Our groups of crested couas (Coua cristata) and Madagascar crested ibises (Lophotibis cristata), with three breeding pairs each, are growing slowly but continuously, and seem well established now. Both species had a good start into the 2002 breeding season and we reared five ibises, hatched from six unrelated birds, which raises the captive population to 20 – 1.2 at Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, 1.1 at Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (PBZT), and 8.7 at Walsrode.

 

In early 2002, a number of long-tailed ground rollers (Uratelornis chimaera) were collected from the wild in south-western Madagascar. While we had problems with an unidentifiable parasite, which caused balance disturbances in some of the birds, one pair, which remained back at PBZT, started digging a burrow under a big rotting log, and by the end of September the birds had apparently mated and laid eggs. The pair were observed carrying live insects into the burrow by the end of October. Unfortunately, torrential rains hit the capital of Madagascar shortly thereafter, and the burrow had to be destroyed in order to rescue whatever had been in there. One chick, approximately five days old, was rescued and reared artificially.

 

This is an outstanding event, because it shows that our engagement in Madagascar is bearing its first fruits at PBZT itself. We had rebuilt the bird centre at PBZT, and trained two of their bird keepers here at Walsrode for seven weeks, with the goal of maintaining and breeding endemic Malagasy bird species at PBZT. The breeding of the long-tailed ground roller, a world's first, is proof of improved management of birds at the zoo, and another may follow soon: the pair of Madagascar crested ibises at PBZT has produced its first clutch of eggs.

 

Dieter Rinke in EAZA News No. 41 (January–March 2003)

 

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, U.K.

 

March 2003 sees the launch of `WWT Learn for Life', the Trust's new educational website. The site, at www.wwtlearn.org.uk, provides a unique and fun resource for teachers, parents, students and children. For teachers, there are tailor-made lesson plans and fact files; for children, there's the `Kids' Zone' packed with games and quizzes – and for all, there are neat ideas for exploring wetlands at home and work, including links to wetland centres around the world.

 

Since 1991, the Trust has promoted and supported wetland education centres worldwide through its Wetland Link International programme; details may be found on the programme's website at www.wli.org.uk.

 

News in brief

 

King Tusk, alias Tommy, who was probably the oldest male elephant in North America or Europe, died on 22 December 2002 at Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey's retirement facility in Florida. The decision was made to euthanise him as he had been suffering from osteoarthritis for some years. He was 57 years old. [Judging by recent experience, I can probably now expect several letters informing me of older bulls still living in North American or European collections! I would also welcome information about an Asian male in Taipei Zoo, Taiwan. Persistent rumour has it that this animal was a work animal for the Japanese army in South-east Asia in World War II, which implies a present age of well over 60, but as far as I know the facts have never been firmly established. – Ed.]

 

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RECENT ARTICLES

 

Adler, H.J., Wirth, R., and Raffel, M.: Artenschutz im 21. Jahrhundert – Zoologische Gärten und Naturschutzorganisationen gründen eine Stiftung. (Species conservation in the 21st century – zoos and conservation organisations establish a foundation.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 20–24. [German, with brief English summary. The authors describe the goals of the Stiftung Artenschutz (`Foundation for Species Conservation') initiated by Roland Wirth (see IZN 48 (2), 76–77).]

Agoramoorthy, G.: Animal welfare and ethics evaluations in South East Asian zoos: procedures and prospects. Animal Welfare Vol. 11, No. 4 (2002), pp. 453–457. [Concern for zoo animals is evident throughout society in many South East Asian countries. The author describes the procedures of welfare evaluations carried out in the region's zoos on behalf of the local zoo association (SEAZA), which have recently identified a number of problems and led to significantly improved standards. He suggests that the procedures outlined in this paper could serve as a model for other zoos to follow.]

Anders, K.: Die frei lebenden Vögel im Zoo Berlin. (Free-living birds in Berlin Zoo.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 40–52. [German, with English summary.]

Blaszkiewitz, B.: Erneut: Zum Thema Beschilderung. (Again, the topic of signs.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 25–28. [German, with very brief English summary.]

Busse, K., and Werning, H.: Eine ausgerottete Amphibienart mehr? Das Schicksal der Nasenfrösche. (Another vanished frog species? The fate of the Darwin frogs.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 18, No. 2 (2002), pp. 16–18. [German, with English summary. The frogs of the genus Rhinoderma live in the temperate humid forests of the southern part of South America. Their parental care is unique among frogs. Rhinoderma is the only batrachian genus which broods the tadpoles inside the vocal pouch. The genus contains two species, R. darwinii and R. rufum. Both are endangered because of habitat destruction, mainly deforestation. R. rufum may already be extinct. So a project has been launched to protect Rhinoderma. As a first step, an expedition is planned in November 2003 to search for these frogs in small forest fragments which survive in the distribution area of R. rufum. Localities known from the literature on both species will be visited to enable a status survey to take place. An ex situ breeding project at Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, where R. darwinii has been bred for more than 15 years, is also planned. In the long term, the creation of protected areas in Chile would be very useful.]

Cassinello, J.: Food access in captive Ammotragus: the role played by hierarchy and mother–infant interactions. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 597–605. [An analysis of individuals' behavior when accessing a restricted food source (troughs) was carried out in a captive population of aoudad (Ammotragus lervia). Access to the troughs followed a strict hierarchical order, as higher-ranking individuals fed before lower-ranking ones. Unweaned male and female kids made use of the troughs from the ages of 2 and 3 months respectively. Both fed from the troughs more frequently and for longer periods when their mother was present, which allowed them to make use of the troughs while skipping the hierarchical order. Kids received fewer threats when in proximity to their mothers, particularly in high-ranking families. Mothers defended their kids from other herdmates more frequently when at the feeding area than in other areas of the herd. However, only sated mothers let their kids feed freely from the troughs; unsated mothers showed aggressive behavior even towards their own kids. Evidently a maternal presence is necessary for aoudad kids to successfully feed from troughs, and families of higher social rank benefit by getting access to this food source earlier in the day and are disturbed less than low-ranking families.]

Clark, S.: First report of albinism in the white-spotted bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium plagiosum (Orectolobiformes: Hemiscyllidae), with a review of reported color aberrations in elasmobranchs. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 519–524. [Three (2.1) albinistic sharks were hatched at SeaWorld parks in Florida and California. Due to their lack of integumentary and retinal pigments, all three animals were considered true albinos. The term `leucism', more prominently used within the herpetological discipline, is suggested as a more apt description for previously reported color aberrations in elasmobranchs. Reports of color aberrations in other species of elasmobranchs, and a clarification of the terms used to describe these irregularities in pigmentation, are also presented.]

Dehnhardt, G., Mauck, B., and Hanke, W.: Im Trüben fischen: Leistungen des Vibrissensystems der Robben. (Fishing in troubled waters: the function of whiskers in seals.) Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo Vol. 45, No. 4 (2002), pp. 171–177. [German, with English summary. The mechanisms of orientation in marine mammals are by no means understood. On the one hand this may be due to our limited access to ocean waters, which makes experimental field work with marine mammals difficult. On the other hand, sensory abilities of captive marine mammals have been studied so far mostly by means of classic physiological methods. Thus, apart from the discovery of the sonar system of dolphins, no further sensory adaptations were discovered. In a research facility established at Cologne Zoo, the authors follow a sensory and cognitive ecology approach to find answers to the question of marine mammal orientation, addressing and lntegrating any mechanism of orientation one can reasonably think of. As an example, the article describes the functional significance of the vibrissal system (whiskers) for foraging pinnipeds.]

Fa, J.E., Soy, J.P., Capote, R., Martínez, M., Fernández, I., Avila, A., Rodríguez, D., Rodríguez, A., Cejas, F., and Brull, G.: Biodiversity of Sierra del Cristal, Cuba: first insights. Oryx Vol. 36, No 4 (2002), pp. 389–395. [Cuba has the highest combined animal and plant diversity, and the highest degree of endemism, in the West Indies. In 1998 the authors (in collaboration with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust – see above, p. 120) undertook the first major biodiversity survey of the Sierra del Cristal National Park, in the Holguín province in eastern Cuba, to address the need for baseline data on the wildlife of the forest habitats of this biologically important mountain range. This area was chosen because it is known to be a major stronghold of the endemic Cuban solenodon. The project initiated and supported field activities of two Cuban institutions involved in nature conservation. The study focused on indicator taxonomic groups, and recorded a total of 220 species of plants, 53 spiders, 28 molluscs, 10 amphibians, 19 reptiles, 51 birds, and three species of mammal. The highest number of species were recorded in montane forest. Thirty-five percent of the taxa recorded are endemic to the area or to Cuba. Information gathered during the study will form the basis for developing long-term management plans for habitats and resident species, in conjunction with the authorities responsible for environmental conservation.]

Ferguson, G.W., Gehrmann W.H., Chen, T.C., Dierenfeld, E.S., and Holick, M.F.: Effects of artificial ultraviolet light exposure on reproductive success of the female panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) in captivity. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 525–537. [Having previously documented experimentally the need for ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation in the light environment of captive female panther chameleons to ensure hatching success of their eggs, the authors investigated optimal UVB irradiation levels. From 1996 to 1998, 28 hatchling females were raised to maturity and bred (using vitamin- and mineral-fortified insect diets low in vitamin D) in nine different artificial UVB light environments. Females raised with long (12 hours/day), moderately low exposures produced viable eggs with a significantly higher percentage of hatching compared to those in other environments. The results and techniques for light quality assessment are interpreted, with recommendations for successful husbandry and breeding.]

Gold, K.C.: Ladder use and clubbing by a bonobo (Pan paniscus) in Apenheul Primate Park. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 607–611. [Two types of tool use were shown by a bonobo in a large outdoor enclosure. A wild-born young adult female (estimated to be nine years old) used fallen branches as ladders to bypass protective sheaths to gain access to trees. Later she used a branch as a weapon to beat to death a peahen. None of the other bonobos in the group were seen to use branches as either ladders or weapons.]

Jenny, S., and Schmid, H.: Effect of feeding boxes on the behavior of stereotyping Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in the Zurich Zoo, Zurich, Switzerland. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 573–584. [The stereotyped pacing shown by the 1.1 tigers at the zoo (aged two and ten years respectively) was hypothesized as being caused by permanently frustrated appetitive foraging behavior. Several electrically-controlled feeding boxes were installed, and access to each box was possible only twice a day for 15 minutes at semi-random times. The boxes had to be opened actively by the tigers. Two trials were carried out: one with solitary confinement, and one with paired confinement. During box feeding, the female's stereotyped pacing was significantly reduced in both cases and her sleeping increased. The male only showed a significant reduction in pacing when kept with the female; he showed no reaction to the feeding-box regime in solitary confinement, possibly because his problem was missing contact with conspecifics, rather than lack of foraging. During paired confinement, the male developed intense activities directed toward the feeding boxes that were not appropriate for opening them, which could represent or develop into a new stereotypic behavior. Further research is needed to clarify whether random feeding by the keeper could be an equivalent alternative to the feeding-box regime, and whether the active control and opening of the feeding boxes by the animals are necessary factors for the reduction of stereotyped pacing.]

Kluger, M.: Musen-Treffpunkt Zoo. (The zoo as a rendezvous for the Muses.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 37–39. [German, with very brief English summary. The author, a professional writer, describes how he finds inspiration in Berlin Zoo.]

Little, K.A., and Sommer, V.: Change of enclosure in langur monkeys: implications for the evaluation of environmental enrichment. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 549–559. [A group of hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus) at London Zoo was studied before and after it was moved from an old cage-style enclosure to a novel naturalistic environment in the refurbished multi-species Mappin Terraces. Eating and locomotion occupied more of the langurs' time in their new enclosure, whereas dozing, allogrooming and aggression decreased, along with an increase in inter-individual distances. These changes are attributed to the larger area, the stimulating new environment, and the langurs' increased distance from visitors. Nevertheless, the study raises questions about how to define standards of desirable environmental enrichment, as the activity patterns recorded in both the old and new enclosures are within the wide behavioral variation observed in this species in the wild.]

Mallapur, A., and Chellam, R.: Environmental influences on stereotypy and the activity budget of Indian leopards (Panthera pardus) in four zoos in southern India. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 585–595. [The activity budgets of 16 leopards were recorded, of whom 14 were studied on-exhibit on zoo holidays as well as on days with visitors present, and all 16 were studied off-exhibit on other days with visitors present. Leopards exhibited higher levels of activity in the on-exhibit enclosures on days with no visitors. Feeding time influenced the behavioral repertoire of all 14 leopards studied on-exhibit. Lower proportions of resting were exhibited during the hours before feeding. The proportion of active behaviors differed significantly across zoos. Stereotypic pacing levels were not influenced by the presence of visitors or by feeding time, but were significantly influenced by enclosure features. Higher levels of stereotypic pacing were exhibited in off-exhibit than on-exhibit enclosures. The study identified some factors that influence stereotypy and activity budgets: (1) The keeper's presence – peaks in activity and resting behavior in the leopards' daily activity budget were probably influenced by the crepuscular nature of the species, while stereotypy peaked during keeper activity; (2) Visitors – their presence caused an increase in resting behavior, and the animals were more active on visitor-free days; (3) Enclosure type – higher levels of stereotypy were exhibited off-exhibit enclosures, possibly due to the greater space and complexity of the on-exhibit enclosures; (4) Feeding time – higher proportions of active behavior and lower levels of resting behavior were exhibited in anticipation of feeding than at other times of the day.]

Martin, J.E.: Early life experiences: activity levels and abnormal behaviours in resocialised chimpanzees. Animal Welfare Vol. 11, No. 4 (2002), pp. 419–436. [Chimpanzees in captivity come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and a proportion of them have been subjected to maternal separation and social deprivation during development. The long-term effects of such practices have received little investigation. This study investigates whether the removal of infants from their mothers and/or other chimpanzees affects their activity levels and abnormal behaviours later in life. A total of 69 resocialised chimpanzees were studied at six British zoos. Animals were categorised into one of three rearing conditions: reared by their mother in a group of conspecifics, reared with other conspecifics but separated from their mothers, and reared apart from their mother or other conspecifics for a period of time during infancy. Results indicate that `socially deprived' individuals show reduced levels of normal activity, elevated levels of abnormal behaviours and a wider repertoire of abnormal behaviours. These differences were more pronounced in younger individuals, with adults from the three different rearing conditions performing abnormal behaviour patterns at comparable levels. It is concluded that human-rearing, either alone or with conspecifics, suppresses normal activity levels and raises levels of abnormal behaviours as a mechanism for coping with maternal loss and restricted rearing. However, these effects are not irreversible and recovery of `normal' behaviours may occur with access to an enriched social environment.]

Müller, P., Nötzold, G., and Bernhard, A.: Erfolgreiche Zuchtgemeinschaft bei Spitzmaulnashörnern (Diceros bicornis michaeli) zwischen den Zoologischen Gärten Berlin und Leipzig. (Successful breeding cooperation with black rhinos between Berlin und Leipzig Zoos.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 12–19. [German, with brief English summary.]

Nadler, T.: Hoffnung für den Weisskopflangur? (Hope for the white-headed langur?) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 18, No. 2 (2002), pp. 3–4. [German, with English summary. Just recently, the white-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus leucocephalus) has become the sixth Indochinese taxon to be added to the list of the `25 World's Most Endangered Primates'. The langurs are endemic to a region of about 200 km2 in the Chinese province of Guangxi. The remnant 580–620 individuals are divided into 16 isolated subpopulations. Poaching and habitat loss and fragmentation have brought the species to the brink of extinction. The Chongzuo Nature Reserve, established in August 2002, is fragmented into seven areas, the smallest being only a few km2. It is an excellent example for reserve management and offers the unusual possibility of observing white-headed langurs all the time.]

Nogge, G.: Kölner Löwe rettet Kabul-Zoo. (A Cologne lion saves Kabul Zoo.) Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo Vol. 45, No. 4 (2002), pp. 163–168. [German, with English summary. When in November 2001 Kabul was liberated from the Taliban, a senile and half-blind lion was found at the zoo. He was born at Cologne Zoo in 1965, lived at Kabul Zoo from its opening in 1967 and in the end reached a new record longevity of 37 years. The media made him the `hero of Kabul', whereupon animal friends all over the world donated $500,000 for the reconstruction of the zoo. The international zoo community agreed that Cologne Zoo, with its traditional links with Kabul, should take the lead in this process. In July 2002 an agreement was signed by the Afghan government and Cologne Zoo, and in the same month its implementation was begun. After the husbandry problems of the few remaining animals were solved satisfactorily, a careful evaluation of all buildings and enclosures was made and a concept for a master plan developed. In the future Kabul Zoo will concentrate on the fauna of Afghanistan.]

Porton, I.: Too much of a rare thing: when to initiate birth control in endangered species. Communiqué (January 2003), pp. 21–22, 38.

Raethel, H.-S.: Vom Affenhaus zum Raritätenkabinett. Die Chronologie eines hundertjährigen Tierhauses des Berliner Zoos 1844–1944 (Teil 2). (From monkey house to rare animal exhibit: the hundred-year history of a Berlin Zoo animal house. Part 2.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 53–65. [German, with brief English summary.]

Rübel, A.: Tieflandseen für Eurasiatische Wasservögel im Zoo Zürich. (Lowland lakes for Eurasian waterfowl at Zürich Zoo.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 29–36. [German, with brief English summary.]

Schmidt, M.: `Heute haben Sie wieder eine Carla im Zoo' – Der Berliner Zoologische Garten und seine jüdischen Aktionäre. (`Today there's another Carla in the zoo' – Berlin Zoo and its Jewish stockholders.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 77–88. [German, with English summary. Before the Nazi era, the zoo was very dependent on Jewish support. Today, for the descendants of many expropriated Jewish stockholders, the question of compensation remains open.]

Schülke, O., Hilgartner, R., and Zinner, D.: Das nächtliche Leben zweier wenig bekannter Lemurenarten Westmadagaskars. (The nocturnal life of two little-known west Madagascan lemur species.) Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo Vol. 45, No. 4 (2002), pp. 179–194. [German, with English summary. Red-tailed sportive lemurs (Lepilemur ruficaudatus) and pale fork-marked lemurs (Phaner [furcifer] pallescens) live sympatrically in the dry deciduous forest of western Madagascar. As in most other nocturnal lemurs, knowledge about their behaviour and social organization has been limited, and both species have long been classified as solitary and non-social. Recent long-term studies using modern techniques like radio-tracking and hormonal as well as genetic analyses have helped to change this picture. In both species, adult pairs (and probably their offspring) share a stable and exclusive home-range. The pair-held home ranges and the absence of sexual dimorphism provide some evidence for a social organization in pairs and a potentially monogamous mating system. However, genetical paternity analysis in the fork-marked lemur revealed that the male partner is frequently not the genetic father of the offspring. This result raises new questions. Less information is available about the mating system of sportive lemurs, but based on their findings the authors expect a slight polygynous tendency.]

Schürer, U., and Sliwa, A.: Südpudus (Pudu pudu) in zoologischen Gärten. (Southern pudus in zoos.) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 3–11. [German, with very brief English summary. The authors discuss data on reproduction, growth and life expectancy based on the international studbook, which has been held at Wuppertal Zoo since 1986.]

Seror, B., Zorovsky, Y., Terkel, A., and Katcoff, D.J.: Genetic kinship and social structure in a herd of square-lipped rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum) at the Zoological Center, Tel Aviv/Ramat-Gan, Israel. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 561–571. [Knowing the genetic ties within captive populations is a very helpful tool for successful reproductive management. The authors addressed kinship relationships and behavior among white rhinos raised at Ramat Gan, with the hope of identifying reasons for the declining rate of reproduction within the herd. Using the random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique, they identified the paternity of five out of seven young born in the herd. One male accounted for three births, and two other males for one each. The sires of the two other animals are unknown and may have been animals who are no longer at Ramat Gan. The genetic research was accompanied by behavioral observations to determine the social dynamics in the herd. This study suggests that there are at least three contributing factors to the reproductive decline in the herd: a surplus of males, exclusion of potentially reproductive males from the breeding stock, and specific behavioral and physiological problems in some members of the herd. The EEP recommendation is to initially transfer adult animals between zoos in order to break up sibling relationships and/or overcome mate-choice problems. Such transfers have resulted in a dramatic increase in white rhino births in European zoos. In the light of the data presented in this article, it would be most advantageous for zoos to maintain tissue samples from all their animals for future use.]

Smith, B.: SSP: the acronym for success. Communiqué (January 2003), pp. 16–17, 50.

Stich, I., and Krüger, K.-O.: Artenschutz in Kambodscha. (Species conservation in Cambodia.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 18, No. 2 (2002), pp. 7–9. [German, with English summary. Although Cambodia still has larger areas covered by natural vegetation than most of the neighbouring countries, its wildlife faces growing threats. Animals are hunted for food by poor rural people, poachers supply the international wildlife trade, and many animals are also sold to so-called `zoos' that are spreading mainly in tourist areas. With only minimal knowledge of animal keeping, most owners have to replenish their stock frequently. Since the existing law merely prohibits transport and trade in animals, but not actual keeping, confiscation is difficult. A new wildlife law is expected to improve the situation, but the only official wildlife rescue centre, Phnom Tamao Zoo, is already overcrowded. To improve this situation, famous Cambodian conservationist Sam Veasna, who tragically died in 1999, proposed a rescue and conservation education centre near Angkor. Allwetterzoo Münster, in cooperation with ZGAP, has picked up the concept and is about to build the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) in Kbal Spean. The centre will include a section for breeding smaller endangered animal species and also serve as an environmental education and training centre.]

Swanson, W.: Forging an international conservation partnership for the Brazilian ocelot. Communiqué (January 2003), pp. 33–34.

Thompson, S.: AZA's Population Management Center: a report on the first two years. Communiqué (January 2003), pp. 6–8.

Trillmich, J.: Erste Hoffnungsschimmer für bedrohte Affen in Ghana. (First glimmer of hope for endangered monkeys in Ghana.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 18, No. 2 (2002), pp. 5–6. [German, with English summary. The bush meat crisis in Ghana unfortunately resembles that in many other countries. The first goal of West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) was to improve housing conditions for monkeys already held at Accra Zoo and to provide more information material for the public to raise awareness about conservation issues. The next goal is to construct a `Centre for Endangered Primates' in the zoo grounds which will allow the confiscation of endangered monkeys being traded or kept as pets. A long-term goal is to create alternative sources of income through tourism or trading of locally-produced goods and to provide better education for local people in the western region of Ghana, where populations of endangered monkeys are still found.]

Visalberghi, E., Yamakoshi, M.M., Hirata, S., and Matsuzawa, T.: Responses to novel foods in captive chimpanzees. Zoo Biology Vol. 21, No. 6 (2002), pp. 539–548. [Hesitancy to eat novel foods hampers the immediate enlargement of the diet but serves to limit the risk of ingesting toxic foods. Neophobia has been systematically investigated in only a few primate species, in which it appears to be affected by social influences. Surprisingly, little is known about neophobia in chimpanzees. The authors studied the response of eight adult chimpanzees at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute to 16 foods (items commonly eaten by humans but never tasted before by the animals). Each novel food was presented twice to the chimpanzee by a familiar or an unfamiliar human. Between the two trials the human ate the food face to face with the chimpanzee (demonstration). Results showed that some foods were almost unanimously accepted, whereas others were not. Moreover, there were marked inter-individual differences in food acceptance and consumption; chimpanzees ranged from being almost completely neophobic to accepting almost all foods. Familiarity with the human and the human's demonstration did not affect responses to the foods. The humans' predictions concerning the chimpanzees' acceptance of the different foods were rather good; furthermore, in seven cases out of eight the humans' preferences did not correlate with their predictions on the chimpanzees' preferences. The finding that most captive chimpanzees are initially cautious toward novel foods supports the little information there is regarding this subject in wild chimpanzees. However, the lack of influence of the humans' familiarity and demonstration on the response to food by the chimpanzees calls for more naturalistic studies, in which social influences are provided by group members. Since novel stimuli provide sensory stimulation and elicit exploration and social interest, occasional presentation of novel foods could be a promising and cheap device for feeding enrichment.]

Wiese, R.J.: Do we still need population management? After 20 years, aren't we there yet? Communiqué (January 2003), pp. 11–12.

Zuntz, L.: Frische Luft! (Fresh air!) Bongo Vol. 32 (2002), pp. 66–76. [German, with very brief English summary. The author, born in 1904, describes her childhood memories of Berlin Zoo.]

 

Publishers of the periodicals listed:

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

Bongo, Zoo Berlin, Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin, Germany.

Communiqué, American Zoo and Aquarium Association, 8403 Colesville Road, Ste. 710, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, U.S.A.

Oryx, Cambridge University Press (for Fauna and Flora International), The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 2RU, U.K.

Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo, Zoologischer Garten, Riehler Strasse 173, D-50735 Köln, Germany.

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.