International Zoo News Vol. 50/5 (No. 326)  July/August 2003

 

                                   CONTENTS

 

OBITUARY – Patricia O'Connor

 

EDITORIAL

 

FEATURE ARTICLES

 

Reptiles in Japanese Collections. Part 1:       Ken Kawata

Chelonians, 1998

 

Breeding Birds of Paradise at             Simon Bruslund Jensen and Sven Hammer

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation

 

An Artist Visits Two Chinese Zoos         Frank Pé

 

Variation in Reliability of Measuring           Tony King, Elke Boyen and Sander Muilerman

Behaviours of Reintroduced Orphan Gorillas

 

Letter to the Editor

 

Book Reviews

 

Conservation

 

Miscellany

 

International Zoo News

 

Recent Articles

 

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OBITUARY

Patricia O'Connor

 

Dr Patricia O'Connor Halloran made history when she took the position of the staff veterinarian of the Staten Island Zoo, New York, in 1942: she became the first full-time woman zoo veterinarian (and, quite possibly, the first woman zoo veterinarian) in North America. She began her zoo work at a time when opportunities for career-oriented women were limited. Between 1930 and 1939, only 0.8 percent of graduates of American and Canadian veterinary schools were women (the figure had increased to more than 60 percent by the 1990s). At her husband's suggestion she continued to use her maiden name O'Connor as her professional name.

 

For nearly three decades until her retirement in 1970 she wore many hats to keep the zoo going, especially during the war years. She was de facto the curator of education, as well as the curator of mammals and birds. A superb organizer, she helped found several organizations, including the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV). Dr O'Connor became the AAZV's first president from 1946 to 1957, and took up the presidency again in 1965. Her brainchild grew into an internationally recognized organization.

 

Among her many accomplishments was the authorship of the 465-page volume, A Bibliography of References to Diseases of Wild Mammals and Birds, which was published in 1955. It informed readers where they could find authoritative articles on subjects ranging from arthritis in the dolphin to the osteology of the extinct bird species, the great auk. Still much esteemed, this publication is a world first, certainly within the English-speaking world, and most probably throughout the whole world.

 

At a time when a zoo veterinarian represented rarity (as of 1955, there were only six staff zoo veterinarians across the country), Dr O'Connor was a pioneer, and a unique professional. Not only was she an accomplished general practitioner of veterinary medicine, but also an educator and an organizer and creator of organizations. After leaving the zoo field she continued the family's small animal practice. An avid reader, her mind stayed keen; she was known to correct memories of those who were decades younger. Dr O'Connor died on 8 July 2003 at the age of 88.

 

Ken Kawata, General Curator, Staten Island Zoo

 

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EDITORIAL

 

The sketches which illustrate Frank Pé's report of his visits to Shanghai and Beijing Zoos must be almost the first reproductions of original works of art ever to appear in International Zoo News. (The numerous photographers whose work we have published might dispute my precise choice of words, but I'm sure they know what I mean.) It is perhaps surprising that this should be so, for the links between zoos and the visual arts are close and long-standing. A detailed treatment of this topic has yet to be produced – I can only think of two existing books which hint at the riches waiting to be exploited. Wei Yew's book Noah's Art (Quon Editions, Edmonton, Canada, 1991) concentrates mainly on the in-house graphic productions – guide-books, signboards etc. – of just 20 zoos and aquariums [see review, IZN 39 (8), 37], and Jonathan Riddell and Peter Denton's By Underground to the Zoo (Studio Vista, 1995) focuses on London Transport posters promoting London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park [IZN 43 (1), 42–3]. Both books are further limited by their weighting towards particular periods (respectively the late 1980s and the 1920s–1960s); but both are packed with visual treats. When will a publisher realise the potential for a comprehensive, fully-illustrated study of this subject? In my mind's eye I can envisage a sumptuous volume, the ultimate coffee-table book for art-loving zoo enthusiasts.

 

In his enthusiastic review of Noah's Art for IZN, Malcolm Whitehead's only mildly adverse criticism was that the book `concentrates on the slicker product of the better-off zoos'; he expressed a hope that a second volume (projected at the time, but sadly never completed) would include `innovative low-tech graphics from the less affluent collections'. Certainly no zoo can avoid producing some original artwork; but often the only way to see it is by personally visiting the collection. Many ephemeral examples must disappear unrecorded. The only periodicals I know which give regular attention to this aspect of `zoo culture' are both produced in Germany – Berlin Zoo's journal Bongo and Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde's Milu. Almost every issue of each of these publications contains at least one article on an artistic theme – zoo posters, enclosure labels, sculptures exhibited in the zoos' grounds, studies of the work of individual artists, historical surveys of artistic representations of particular species . . . (Bongo offers the additional bonus of numerous illustrations in colour.) This admirable insistence on treating zoos as an integral part of a nation's cultural life is not, of course, confined to Germany, but it does seem to be most highly developed there and in some other countries of continental Europe. (I'd be delighted to hear from any zoos in the English-speaking world anxious to prove me wrong.)

 

In a Guest Editorial just over a year ago [IZN 49 (4), 194–5], Vernon Kisling argued the case for establishing a `zoo museum'. The response so far has been distinctly underwhelming; but should this project ever become a reality, I hope the institution will be as much an art gallery as a museum. And meanwhile it would be good to see as many individual zoos as possible setting aside a room in which their own artistic heritage can be put on display to the visiting public.

 

Nicholas Gould

 

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REPTILES IN JAPANESE COLLECTIONS. PART 1: CHELONIANS, 1998

 

BY KEN KAWATA

 

Publications of the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (JAZGA), headquartered in Tokyo, are circulated for in-house use only within the zoo and aquarium industry. They are printed in Japanese, yet unknown to the Japanese public and news media, let alone to the world outside the nation's borders. Colleagues in Europe and America may wonder why no effort has ever been made to distribute the publications, at least partially in English translation, out of the arc-shaped archipelago. Recently zoos in Southeast Asia have become increasingly visible, and, after all, Japan holds a prominent position in terms of international commerce. That raises the question: Why does this country continue to be an informational and communicational vacuum at the eastern edge of Asia? Don't Japanese enjoy the fruit of modern communicational devices, such as cellular phones, e-mail and fax? Simply put, the answer lies in their culture; they choose to persistently remain in their national cocoon.

 

However, it is probably fair to state that improvement has been made, albeit at a snail's pace. For instance, a significant step was taken when JAZGA began to add scientific names to the animal inventory, beginning with the 1997 issue. The annual reports, with the animal inventory in a separate volume, are by far the largest source of statistical data published by the Association. According to the membership roster of the 1998 Annual Report, there were 96 zoos and 67 aquariums, or a total of 163 member institutions, making Japan one of the most zoo- and aquarium-rich countries of the world. According to one account published in 2000, their annual visitorship totaled 85 million.

 

Most of the above 163 institutions exhibit generalized animal collections, but there are also some specialist facilities, such as a bear ranch and a primate zoo; one place, Atagawa Tropical and Alligator Gardens in Shizuoka Prefecture, specializes in reptiles. Admittedly JAZGA membership does not represent every live animal collection open to the public in Japan. However, it is a fair assumption that most animals on public exhibit in Japan are covered by the Association's annual reports. From the 1998 Annual Report, your writer has chosen to review chelonians; zoos and aquariums are arbitrarily defined as `collections'. Possible errors in data compilation are his.

 

1. Overview

 

Table 1 depicts the number of reptile taxa held by JAZGA member institutions as of 31 December 1998. A `purist' approach was employed when compiling the list; excluded are hybrids and animals whose exact species were not identified (e.g. listed vaguely as `giant tortoises', or with only the genera noted). Luckily, such examples were insignificantly few. While the list may present a modest catalog of a collection for an entire country, it nevertheless shows a dramatic increase over the decades. In earlier days reptiles and amphibians were not recognized as a vital component of a collection in a zoo or an aquarium. Hence, permanent housing and exhibit facilities for reptiles and amphibians, independent of other animal buildings, have been a relatively new phenomenon in Japanese zoos. Only in the 1970s, two decades into the post-war `zoo construction boom', did zoos begin to take more than a passing interest in this part of the animal kingdom. Gradually, reptile buildings began to achieve status in zoos, including medium-sized zoos.

 

Table 1. Reptiles in Japanese collections.

 

Chelonia Sauria Serpentes Crocodilia Total
Families 11 12 5 2 30
Genera 60 32 29 8 129
Species 116 60 59 20 255

Indeed, half a century ago the animal inventory of Japanese zoos hardly had any reptiles. The Association was then known as the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens, its membership consisting of 23 zoos but no aquariums. As of 31 March 1952 the inventory listed only 31 species of reptile, including 13 in chelonia, four in sauria, and seven each in serpentes and crocodilia. By comparison Table 2, including 116 species of chelonians in 11 families, appears quite impressive. According to Ernst and Barbour (1989) there are 257 living species of turtles in 12 families in the world. Thus Japanese collections offer representatives of nearly all families and 45%, or nearly one-half, of the world's chelonian species to the public. What follows are a few observations.

 

Table 2. Chelonians in Japanese collections.

Species                                        No. of    No. of

                                               specimens institutions

Pelomedusidae

Helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa)            12         3

Red-bellied short-necked turtle (Emydura subglobosa)       6    2

Krefft's river turtle (E. kreffti)               2         1

Brisbane short-necked turtle (E. signata)        3         1

New Guinea red-bellied turtle (E. albertisi)    18         4

Yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle (Podocnemis unifilis)  16    5

West African black forest turtle (Pelusios niger) 2         1

East African black mud turtle (P. subniger)     12         4

 

Chelidae

Snake-necked turtle (Chelodina spixii)           4         3

Australian snake-necked turtle (C. longicollis)  7         3

New Guinea snake-necked turtle (C. novaeguineae) 65        10

Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle (C. siebenrocki) 31       11

Matamata (Chelus fimbriatus)                    38        21

New Guinea snapping turtle (Elseya novaeguineae) 19         3

South American snake-necked turtle (Hydromedusa tectifera) 12    5

Geoffroy's side-necked turtle (Phrynops geoffroanus)      11    3

Gibba turtle (P. gibbus)                        13         4

Hilaire's spot-bellied side-necked turtle (P. hilarii)    26    9

Toad-headed turtle (P. nasutus)                  2         1

Twist-necked turtle (Platemys platycephala)      1         1

 

Chelydridae

Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)    93        39

Alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temmincki) 74       32

Platysternidae

 

Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum)   13         4

 

Cheloniidae

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)            332        41

Pacific green turtle (Chelonia agassizii)        1         1

Atlantic green turtle (C. mydas)               255        51

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)      167        25

Pacific Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)   10         5

 

Dermochelyidae

Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)        1         1

 

Kinosternidae

Striped mud turtle (Kinosternon bauri)           2         2

Yellow mud turtle (K. flavescens)                3         1

Mexican rough-footed mud turtle (K. hirtipes)    2         1

White-lipped mud turtle (K. leucostomum)         3         1

Loggerhead musk turtle (K. minor)                4         1

Scorpion mud turtle (K. scorpioides)             3         1

Eastern mud turtle (K. subrubrum)                8         4

Chiapas giant musk turtle (Staurotypus salvinii) 14         3

Mexican giant musk turtle (S. triporcatus)       2         2

Razorback musk turtle (Sternotherus carinatus)   2         2

Stinkpot turtle (S. odoratus)                    1         1

 

Carettochelyidae

Fly River turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)      57        17

 

Trionychidae

Asiatic soft-shelled turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) 5         5

Florida soft-shelled turtle (Apalone ferox)      7         2

Spiny soft-shelled turtle (A. spinifera)        10         2

Narrow-headed soft-shelled turtle (Chitra indica) 4         2

Indian flap-shelled turtle (Lissemys punctata)  11         6

Japanese (Chinese) soft-shelled turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis)    35    22

Nile soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx triunguis)     1         1

 

Emydidae

Annam pond turtle (Annamemys annamensis)        14         2

Malaysian painted terrapin (Callagur borneoensis) 4         2

Chinese pond turtle (Chinemys nigricans)         3         1

Japanese three-keeled pond turtle (C. reevesi) 1007        73

Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)                12         3

Caspian turtle (Clemmys caspica)                 3         1

Spotted turtle (C. guttata)                      5         3

Wood turtle (C. insculpta)                       8         1

Malayan box turtle (Cuora amboinensis)          31        10

Yellow-headed box turtle (C. aurocapitata)       1         1

Yellow-margined box turtle (C. flavomarginata) 104        15

Indochinese box turtle (C. galbinifrons)         4         2

McCord's box turtle (C. mccordi)                 2         1

Chinese three-striped box turtle (C. trifasciata) 1         1

Asian leaf turtle (Cyclemys dentata)            10         6

Stripe-necked leaf turtle (C. tcheponensis)      3         3

Chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia)         4         2

European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis)          3         1

Hamilton's pond turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii)    9         2

Okinawan black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)   23    3

Barbour's map turtle (Graptemys barbouri)        1         1

Mississippi map turtle (G. kohnii)               6         2

Ringed map turtle (G. oculifera)                 2         1

Ouachita map turtle (G. ouachitensis)            1         1

Alabama map turtle (G. pulchra)                  7         2

False map turtle (G. pseudogeographica)         11         2

Black-knobbed map turtle (G. nigrinoda)          3         1

Giant Asian pond turtle (Heosemys grandis)       6         4

Spiny turtle (H. spinosa)                       14         7

Yellow-headed temple turtle (Hieremys annandalii) 23        4

Indian roofed turtle (Kachuga tecta)            19         3

Indian tent turtle (K. tentoria)                 1         1

Brown roofed turtle (K. smithii)                 1         1

Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)       6         3

Japanese pond turtle (Mauremys japonica)       499        58

Stripe-necked turtle (M. mutica)               176        15

Indian black turtle (Melanochelys trijuga)      22         4

Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Ocadia sinensis)  26         6

Malaysian giant turtle (Orlitia borneensis)      9         4

Common cooter (Pseudemys floridana)              3         2

River cooter (P. concinna)                       6         2

Florida red-bellied turtle (P. nelsoni)         15         4

Keeled box turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii)             5         4

Painted wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima)   1         1

Eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei)                     2         1

Four-eyed turtle (S. quadriocellata)             3         3

Siamese temple turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis)      10    4

Common box turtle (Terrapene carolina)          71        15

Ornate box turtle (T. ornata)                   12         3

Common slider (Trachemys scripta)              939        66

 

Testudinidae

South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) 52    15

South American yellow-footed tortoise (G. denticulata)    10    5

Star tortoise (G. elegans)                     852        39

Galapagos tortoise (G. elephantopus)             3         2

Elongated tortoise (G. elongata)                35         9

Aldabra tortoise (G. gigantea)                 125        20

Leopard tortoise (G. pardalis)                  79        10

Burmese star tortoise (G. platynota)            36         1

Radiated tortoise (G. radiata)                   9         3

African spurred tortoise (G. sulcata)           39        17

Bell's hingeback tortoise (Kinixys belliana)     4         2

African pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) 25        5

Asian brown tortoise (Manouria emys)            34        14

Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni)          35         4

Spur-thighed tortoise (T. graeca)               12         7

Horsfield's tortoise (T. horsfieldii)           17         7

Hermann's tortoise (T. hermanni)                 1         1

Marginated tortoise (T. marginata)               2         2

 

Taxonomy. Not surprisingly, there is a varying degree of disagreements in taxonomic groupings amongst authors. For example the JAZGA inventory includes Emydura in Pelomedusidae, while both ISIS (1988) and Ernst and Barbour (1989) put the genus in Chelidae; a family that appears to generate fewer disagreements seems to be Testudinidae. Nevertheless, in this review taxonomic arrangement and names have been adopted from the inventory, and common English names mostly from ISIS (1988). Subspecies present another interesting subject. In the inventory some species, such as box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and slider (Trachemys scripta) are further classified into several subspecies each, and the effort by the staff of the holding institutions to adhere to such scientific detail is to be commended. However, to simplify the statistics all are here lumped into full species level.

 

Native species. The total number of specimens nears an astonishing 6,000. Of these, five species (a mere 4% of all the species) with more than 300 specimens each take up 3,629 specimens, or more than 60% of the entire population. Three of the five species are native to Japan, one of the contributing factors for such large holdings (other contributing factors will later be mentioned). With other species added, native species make up 40% of the number of specimens in the inventory. The Japanese three-keeled pond turtle and the Japanese pond turtle are the most familiar turtles to those who grew up there; they are a fixture in the freshwater wetlands, and often kept as pets. It is quite natural that a large number of these two freshwater species find their way into zoos and aquariums. Another group, the sea turtles, is also familiar to the Japanese people, appearing in folklore although not as commonly seen as their freshwater counterparts. Even without the cultural aspect, they are large animals with public appeal. Considering their popularity, it is easily understandable that loggerheads, hawksbills and green turtles are well represented in public exhibit facilities.

 

Rarity. One of the discoveries by a zoo or aquarium visitor from another region of the world is that certain species, which are seldom seen back home, are quite commonly on exhibit in that particular region. Such a regional characteristic has little to do with scarcity in the wild (in fact, the species may be abundant in the wild). In that sense, rarity is a rather subjective term. Sea turtles may represent an example of such regional uniqueness. While they are not frequently noted in North American collections, by comparison the public in Japan has easier access to them. Japan is an island nation with a long shoreline, surrounded by oceans. As noted above, their traditional popularity in society makes sea turtles an attractive exhibit. It does not come as a surprise that the Atlantic green turtle is exhibited in 48 aquariums and three zoos, and the loggerhead turtle in 40 aquariums and one zoo. Aside from regionality there are species that are rare in captivity anywhere in the world, and an example is also found in the sea turtle group. The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium is the proud holder of the only leatherback turtle on exhibit in Japan, a species by no means common anywhere.

 

Collectors. Throughout the pages of the inventory, names of the same institutions surface repeatedly as the holders of a number of species. The so-called `postage stamp collection' seems to be passé, the embodiment of anachronism. Yet, old-fashioned as it may be, it has the advantage of exhibiting the diversity within one taxonomic group of animals. Izu Andyland, an aquarium in Shizuoka Prefecture, has the distinction of being Japan's leading collector of chelonians with a whopping 87 full species, or three-fourths of all chelonian species kept in the country. This aquarium exhibits every species of Kinosternon in the inventory. Himeji City Aquarium ranks a distant second with 33 full species.

 

Hybrids. Although the inventory contains only a small number of hybrids, the topic may be worth mentioning. Two aquariums reported sea turtle hybrids in their collections, between Atlantic green turtle and loggerhead turtle, and between hawksbill turtle and loggerhead turtle.

 

2. Breeding

 

Hatchings of chelonians during the 1998 fiscal year (1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999) are depicted in Table 3. In proportion to the huge number of chelonians held nationally, the list appears to be quite modest. Still, compared to the figures three decades earlier, it does represent an improvement. The 1971 Annual Report listed 65 zoos and 44 aquariums as member institutions. Only one zoo and one aquarium reported reptile breeding, numbering six species (including one chelonian species), but offspring from two of the six species did not survive. Breeding chelonians requires a support facility, due to incubation periods which extend into months. In addition, it requires a certain level of staff technical expertise. These are probably the reasons why chelonian breeding is still uncommon. It is also apparent that, with the exception of sea turtles, Table 3 is dominated by exotic (non-indigenous) species. It seems that, because of the easy availability of the native freshwater species, serious attempts to breed them would be impractical.

 

Table 3. Chelonians hatched in Japanese collections.

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

Species                             No. hatched No. collections

Brisbane short-necked turtle          6 (3)         1

Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle      3 (3)         1

Loggerhead turtle                     474* (461)    2

Hawksbill turtle                      2 (1)         1

Annam pond turtle                     10 (1)        1

Yellow-margined box turtle            4 (3)         1

South American red-footed tortoise    18 (10)       3

Elongated tortoise                    8 (5)         2

Aldabra tortoise                      36 (13)       1

African spurred tortoise              2 (2)         1

Spur-thighed tortoise                 7 (0)         1

*Of these, 422 were released in the wild.

 

The aforementioned Izu Andyland proved to be not only a collector but also a breeder of exotic chelonians. No other institution bred seven species during the year. Andyland bred four species successfully (New Guinea red-bellied turtle, yellow-margined box turtle, Annam pond turtle and Aldabra tortoise) and three with no surviving young (Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle, South American red-footed tortoise and elongated tortoise).

 

The figure about hatching loggerhead turtles is misleading; the list gives the impression that a large number hatched but never survived. Another look at The Annual Report revealed that most loggerhead hatchlings were released, and that only those hatchlings kept at the aquariums were reported in the `young raised' category. To clarify: during the fiscal year two aquariums, namely Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium and Kushimoto Marine Park Center in Wakayama Prefecture, hatched a total of 474 loggerhead turtles, 422 of which were released into the wild and 32 stayed at the aquariums. On paper, it appears that 20 out of 474 hatchlings failed to survive in captivity. As shown in these examples, breeding of sea turtles is no longer a rare event, with a large number of hatchlings being released.

 

3. Conservation

 

Table 2 includes ten species which are categorized in the CITES Appendix I, and 18 species in Appendix II. Also, the Okinawan black-breasted leaf turtle is given protected status as a `Natural Monument' by the Japanese government. Closely identified with the world's wetlands issues, chelonians are often a topic in the global conservation arena. One of the issues that affects the operations of zoos and aquariums is the pet trade.

 

Pet trade and confiscation. The enormous popularity of exotic pets in recent decades has resulted in the importation of large numbers of vertebrates, including birds (particularly psittacines) and reptiles to Japan, legally or illegally. Some of the chelonians that survive the ordeals of capture, multiple level of transfers and inadequate handling and care at the pet shops and by owners, become discarded pets and are bound to make their way into public zoos and aquariums. More than likely that explains the large numbers of exotic species, such as diamondback terrapin and common slider, held in Japanese collections. That, however, is only a part of the picture of the pet trade. Of particular concern for conservationists is the illegal pet trade. Internationally protected species have been found at the ports of entry by government agents, and taken to local zoos and aquariums as an emergency measure. There have been cases of animals that were returned to the country of origin, but they are rare exceptions. Institutions are required to accommodate the needs of the confiscates, which take up the space and staff time which could otherwise, conceivably, be utilized for breeding and research of chelonians or other reptiles.

 

Examples are many. In July 1991, 169 Egyptian tortoises were confiscated and were sent to four zoos. Japan's endangered species act took effect in April 1993. Yet, during 1996, 168 Indian flap-shelled turtles and 49 pancake tortoises joined the list of the confiscated. By the mid-1990s an influx of star tortoises from India became quite noticeable. As of June 1997, a total of 1,615 star tortoises had been confiscated by the government. Waves of those tortoises arriving at the Japanese shores are reflected in the large number, 852 in 39 institutions, in JAZGA's inventory. Illegal trafficking of chelonians is, of course, by no means limited to the pet trade or to Japan. As many know, chelonians are considered a delicacy in certain parts of the world. To cite a couple of examples, in March 2003 customs officials at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport discovered six tons of turtles smuggled into Vietnam aboard a Thai Airways flight from Malaysia. They also found 4,159 turtles of five different species, smuggled in boxes into Vietnam, sent by a Malaysian firm to avoid tax.

 

Management programs. Compared to mammals and birds, species management programs for reptiles and amphibians had a rather humble beginning. Coordination of a breeding program began with the Aldabra tortoise in 1996, but at this point chelonians were not considered an official part of the national breeding program. In October of 1998, the Species Survival Committee of Japan (SSCJ), under the auspices of JAZGA, added four species (all of which are non-indigenous) to the collective management system: Aldabra tortoise, radiated tortoise, Hamilton's pond turtle and Indian roofed turtle. During the 12th conference of SSCJ, held in October 2001, species coordinators designated for those taxa reviewed the status and identified goals for each one of them.

 

The Aldabra tortoise has had a long history in captivity in Japan, but thus far only two institutions have been successful in breeding the species. The number of proven breeders is also small; two males and seven females. Out of 19 holding facilities (as of 2001), 12 are expected to be able to accommodate breeding animals. Actions needed for promoting breeding include sexing of unsexed adults, transferring individuals on a breeding loan basis for pairing, and exchanging information on husbandry. By comparison to Aldabra tortoises, most radiated tortoises in Japanese collections have yet to reach reproductive age. Two females in one zoo have been laying eggs with no access to a male, and transfer of mature males from another zoo has been suggested. In addition, the holding institution's staff needs information on husbandry and the establishment of techniques necessary for breeding. Member institutions expect more arrivals due to continuing confiscation of specimens in violation of CITES.

 

Confiscation has also been the route through which every Hamilton's pond turtle has arrived in a Japanese collection. Upon entry most were emaciated, and many perished. Those in the collections are still young; they mature at a slow pace and it will be a time-consuming endeavor to establish a breeding program. Sexing of turtles and close communication amongst holding institutions are desirable. The fourth species in the SSCJ program, the Indian roofed turtle, is also represented by a small number, but the situation seems more promising compared to the Hamilton's pond turtle. Egg-laying was reported in two zoos, one of which achieved the country's first breeding of the species. More specimens will soon reach breeding age, and sexing of these animals continues. Redistribution of selected individuals and determination of geographical origins by DNA testing have been suggested. For this species and the Hamilton's pond turtle, establishment of husbandry techniques and separate housing facilities for the species have been recommended.

 

Role of aquariums. Through the decades, aquarium professionals have been making a continuing effort for the conservation and scientific study of the sea turtles. As early as 1970 Enoshima Aquarium staff compiled a detailed survey of sea turtles in captivity. Topics in this article ranged over staff's experience in sea turtle husbandry, locations of capture, captive environment, feeding, diseases, and growth rate in captivity (Anon., 1970). Unlike most of their zoo counterparts, aquarium staffs actively involve themselves in field research. For instance, Yoshioka and Samejima (1989) studied landing, egg-laying and hatching of loggerhead turtles in southern Japan. Captive breeding has borne fruits, too. At the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium hawksbill and loggerhead turtles have reproduced, the latter for eight consecutive years in an indoor artificial beach. Through the educational programs, children witness the midnight emergence of the young, and their release into the ocean (Uchida, pers. comm., 2003).

 

4. Longevity

 

Concerning longevity, Pope (1962) noted that `Turtles take the prize not only among reptiles but among all the vertebrates as well.' He cited examples of chelonians that lived well over the century mark. Data in Table 4 represent chelonians that had been living in Japanese zoos and aquariums for at least 21 years as of 31 March 1999. Exact ages of only three animals can be accurately traced, and they are all loggerhead turtles; a male hatched on 19 September 1972, and a male and a female hatched in October of the same year. Given the chelonians' biological faculty for a long life span, figures on the table may appear rather unimpressive and imply that chelonians in Japanese collections do not live as long as expected. That may even raise the question of the ability of Japanese zoos and aquariums to properly care for their reptiles. This may seem particularly persuasive when considering the huge number held by the institutions. However, there are reasons why so disproportionately few of them seem to be climbing up the age pyramid, as discussed below.

 

Of the JAZGA members, more than half of the zoos and more than 80% of the aquariums opened their gates after 1960. Additionally, as mentioned before, facilities specifically designed for reptiles and amphibians are a relatively new phenomenon in Japan. Also new is the taxonomic diversity in the reptile collection. Not so many years ago, reptile collections rarely exceeded the familiar range of American alligators, pythons (mostly Asian) and a few monitors, supplemented by readily available native species. Many of the newer exotic faces stepping into the public exhibit facilities are young confiscates, as mentioned earlier. Reptiles in Japanese collections have yet to meet the test of time; not enough years and decades have accumulated for meaningful longevity records. Also, the large influx of confiscates makes it more difficult to maintain accurate individual records.

 

Table 4. Longevity of chelonians in Japanese collections, 31 March 1999

(In nearly all cases the years indicate duration of captivity, not ages, of animals.)

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

Yellow-spotted Amazon

  River turtle                       0        0        0         1.1

Matamata                    0        1.0      0.0.2    0

Common snapping turtle      0        0        0.0.1    0

Alligator snapping turtle   0        0        3.0.1    0

Loggerhead turtle           0.1      1.1      2.1.0    0

Atlantic green turtle       0        1.1      0        0

Mississippi map turtle      0        0        0        0.1

Common slider               0        0        0.0.1    1.0

South American

  red-footed tortoise       0        0        0        2.0

Aldabra tortoise            0        0        0        1.0

Asian brown tortoise        0        0        0        0.1

 

Individual identification and record-keeping systems are the basis of establishing longevity records. A glance at Table 4 reveals that all animals belong to exotic species except sea turtles. In contrast to exotic species, the aforementioned two native freshwater species have a very large holding; 1,007 Japanese three-keeled pond turtles and 499 Japanese pond turtles make up a quarter of all the chelonians in the inventory. Some institutions hold dozens of those common species each. It is unrealistic to expect that holding institutions allocate resources for positive identification measures and maintain individual records for all of them. Realistically, such management details are not feasible for these abundant species. In other words, a large block of animals has almost automatically been excluded from the core group to be considered in the race for longevity.

 

Of the animals in Table 4, 12 entered the collections in or before 1970, indicating that they were early arrivals on the scene at the time. Interestingly, aquariums hold more longevity records than zoos. All six chelonians in the 31-plus year category, and six in the 25 to 29 year range, are from aquariums. The longest duration in captivity, 42 years, goes to a female Atlantic green turtle at Enoshima Aquarium (opened in 1954), south of Tokyo. (However, no entry date has been given.) Himeji City Aquarium is the holder of several chelonians living for more than 23 years: a male Atlantic green turtle (arrived 24 May 1966, 18 days before the official opening of the aquarium), a matamata (arrived 4 August 1969), a male and a female loggerhead turtles (hatched October 1972), a female common slider (arrived February 1973) and a male and a female yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle (arrived 23 May 1975 as juveniles).

 

Of all zoos, Kyoto Zoo holds the largest number of chelonians on the longevity list, as follows: Two male South American red-footed tortoises, a female Asian brown tortoise (all arrived 14 April 1974), a female Mississippi map turtle (30 April 1974), a male common slider (11 October 1977) and a male Aldabra tortoise (15 March 1978). In terms of longevity records, Kyoto has established itself ahead of larger zoos with more elaborate, state-of-the-art exhibit complexes. This may not be purely coincidental, considering that this is the second oldest zoo in the country, opening its doors in 1903.

 

Acknowledgments

Thanks go to Frank Indiviglio, Herpetology Department of the Bronx Zoo, for his critical review of the manuscript and resourceful suggestions. Tokyo Zoological Park Society kindly provided a choice of photographs for this account.

 

References

 

Anon. (1970): The investigation of sea-turtles at aquariums in Japan. Journal of Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums 12 (4): 81–88. (In Japanese.)

Ernst, C.H., and Barbour, R.W. (1989): Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

International Species Information System (1988): ISIS Reptile Taxonomic Directory. ISIS, Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens (1952): The 1951 Annual Report. (In Japanese.)

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (1972): The 1971 Annual Report. (In Japanese.)

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (1999): The 1998 Annual Report. (In Japanese.)

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums: (1999): Supplement to the 1998 Annual Report, Animal Inventory. (In Japanese, with scientific names.)

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (2001): Proceedings of the 12th Conference of the Species Survival Committee of Japan. (In Japanese.)

Pope, C.H. (1962): The Giant Snakes. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

Yoshioka, S., and Samejima, M. (1989): Breeding of the loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta L., on the Nagasakibana coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. Journal of Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums 31 (2): 51–55. (In Japanese with English summary.)

 

Ken Kawata, General Curator, Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway, Staten Island, New York 10310, U.S.A. (E-mail: KawataSIZ@aol.com)

 

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BREEDING BIRDS OF PARADISE AT AL WABRA WILDLIFE  PRESERVATION

 

BY SIMON BRUSLUND JENSEN AND SVEN HAMMER

 

Introduction

 

The birds of paradise (Paradisaeidae) form a 42-member-strong family of birds that are distributed primarily in New Guinea, but also on surrounding islands and in Northern Australia. They are medium- to large-sized songbirds that are often compared to corvids, or – for some of the smaller species – to starlings. The comparison is justified by their body structure, their legs and bills; however, the specialised plumes and exceptional colours lack any parallel in other bird species. Historically, the birds of paradise have been surrounded by myth and speculation, and even today much about their ecology and behaviour in the wild is poorly known. In many species the nest, eggs or young have never been found, and it is only recently that the elaborate courtship displays of several species have been described.

 

Birds of paradise are reputed to be a challenging group of birds to maintain and especially to breed successfully in captivity. This is mainly due to a specialised diet and a very complex social structure. Most species are mainly fruit-eaters, but will also eat animal matter, such as insects or small vertebrates, when available. Some species are monogamous, but the majority live most of their lives alone or in small feeding groups. Females attend to the nesting duties alone, and in fact the male will not hesitate to eat young birds, and in most cases poses a significant risk to the eggs and young. For this reason most birds of paradise must be kept separate in captivity, which poses obvious problems for the production of fertile eggs.

 

In a number of species males are known to congregate in small groups, known as leks, where they enthusiastically show off in a sheer frenzy of feathers and noise. They will go to great lengths to catch the attention of passing females with loud advertising calls and complex dances. Males of other species will dance independently, having fixed territories within the home-range of several females. In captivity both the enclosure and the timing must be adapted to the strategy of each individual species.

 

Birds of paradise at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation

 

Currently Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation [see IZN 49 (8), 482–486], owned by Sheikh Saoud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al Thani, keeps six different species of birds of paradise, one in two distinct subspecies (see Table 1). The birds, which arrived in 1999 and 2001, included a higher number of `female-plumed' individuals. DNA sexing has proven effective in determining the right gender, but it is only little by little that the birds show their `true colours' [see IZN 50 (3), 156–159]. Some who are evidently more than four years of age have not yet attained adult male plumage.

 

Following a series of infertile eggs, the year 2002 brought the first successful breeding results with Al Wabra's birds of paradise. Chicks of both king and greater birds of paradise were successfully hand-reared in the bird nursery. Altogether two unrelated greater birds of paradise and four king birds of paradise from two different blood lines were reared to independence (see Table 2). The hand-rearing techniques used were based on the available material on successful hand-rearing of closely related species published by San Diego Zoo and, in particular, the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. However, massive amounts of data were collected in the effort to improve the standards for these two particular species. The king bird of paradise and the greater bird of paradise are the smallest and largest species of the family respectively, and there are significant differences in their husbandry. Comprehensive articles are currently in preparation to describe the methods used and possibly also function as an applicable protocol for the artificial rearing of these two species.

 

To our knowledge these results represent the first successful hand-rearing achieved with either of these species. Both species have also been parent-reared once in captivity, but this achievement has unfortunately never been repeated.

 

Future aims in keeping birds of paradise at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation

 

It has been our experience that most of the birds of paradise are rather sensitive to disturbance when nesting, so it is important to try to increase the birds' privacy, while still keeping a certain level of control, in order to achieve successful parent-rearing in addition to artificial rearing. Also, research into the breeding behaviour of both females and males is a high priority. Both will be attempted at Al Wabra with the help of, among other things, remote surveillance cameras. The successful propagation of different bird of paradise species in controlled surroundings offers a great opportunity for long-term studies into the age of sexual maturity and development of adult plumage; evidence indicates that these two events might not be as closely connected as previously believed.

 

In the shorter term, studies will commence on the birds' diet, nutritional needs and, in particular, important diseases such as iron storage disease. This disease has proved to be a major problem in keeping birds of paradise, as well as several other groups of tropical fruit-eating birds, healthy in captivity. It will perhaps also be possible to train an `ambassador bird' who can assist in improving public awareness about one of nature's true and little understood wonders. Naturally it is our ambition to breed all the species of bird of paradise kept here at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation.

 

Table 1. Numbers of the six species, of three different genera, currently kept at Al Wabra.

1.1  Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)

4.1.1 Lesser Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea minor minor)

18.12Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda apoda and P. a. novaeguineae)

1.1  Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus chrysopterus)

17.6 King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius regius)

4.2.1 Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise (Seleucidis melanoleuca)

 

Table 2. Bird of paradise offspring in 2002 at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation.

Stocklist #        Species            Sex       Date of          Father #    Mother #

                                      hatching

2781               King BOP           male      17.04.02         2200  440

2782               King BOP           female    17.04.02         2200  440

2901               Greater BOP male   18.05.02           554     2186

2902               Greater BOP female 02.06.02           546     545

3249               King BOP           female    11.11.02         2204  439

3250               King BOP           male      11.11.02         2204  439

 

Sources and further reading

Frith, C.B., and Beehler, B.M. (1998): The Birds of Paradise. Oxford University Press.

Rimlinger, D. (1984): Empress of Germany's bird of paradise. Zoonooz 57 (2): 11–14.

Hundgen, K., and Bruning, D. (1988): Propagation techniques for birds of paradise at the New York Zoological Park. AAZPA 1988 Annual Conference Proceedings: 14–20.

Hundgen, K., Hutchins, M., Sheppard, C., Bruning, D., and Worth, W. (1991): Management and breeding of the red bird of paradise Paradisaea rubra at the New York Zoological Park. International Zoo Yearbook 30: 192–199.

 

Simon Bruslund Jensen, Curator of Birds, and Dr Sven Hammer, Director of Wildlife and Veterinary Service, Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, P.O. Box 7935, Al Wabra, Doha, State of Qatar. (E-mail: alwabra@qatar.net.qa)

 

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AN ARTIST VISITS TWO CHINESE ZOOS

 

BY FRANK PÉ

 

A visit to the zoo is a pleasure most of us can enjoy. To visit Chinese zoos, though, is not an everyday trip for a Westerner. It was in April 1999 that I had the opportunity to visit the zoos and aquariums of Beijing and Shanghai. For a confirmed zoo enthusiast like me, these visits were an almost mystical experience – these places seemed the stuff of make-believe, with their promise of rare animals and extraordinary buildings.

 

When I made these visits, I decided to take with me not only the obligatory still and video cameras, but also a sketch-pad and some watercolour paints. It's true that my job involves creating strip cartoons, and that I'm lucky enough to earn my living telling picture stories with titles like `The Zoo' or `The Public Whales'. As a rule, however, despite being an animal artist, I don't draw in zoos, simply because there is never enough time to see everything – drawing takes time, even if one is only producing quick sketches. But I had decided that my visit to China would be so out of the ordinary that I must try to bring back some more personal souvenirs of these magical experiences, so I set aside several days for visiting each zoo.

 

Shanghai Zoo

 

The general impressions I received in the course of these visits were of two totally contrasting types. On one hand, I felt uneasy over the condition of the animals, many of whom were shut up in cages like those of an old-time menagerie, exhibited without any consideration of their behavioural needs. (The small carnivore building in Shanghai consists of little wire-mesh cages with bare concrete floors, without a single natural feature – no branches, no earth, nothing but an occasional cola can! And here are kept bear cubs, clouded leopards, wolves, jackals, striped hyenas, red pandas, etc. . . .) On the other hand, I was delighted to see some very rare species – tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) and red gorals (Naemorhedus cranbrooki) in big breeding groups,

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white-lipped deer (Cervus albirostris), Tibetan and Assamese macaques (Macaca thibetana and M. assamensis),
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and François's langurs (Trachypithecus francoisi). Some I, at least, had never previously heard of, such as the white-capped langur (T. leucocephalus), the magnificent Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti), and the extremely rare black muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons) – species which have hardly ever gone beyond the borders of the Middle Kingdom.

 

It would be going too far to say that all the animals at Shanghai Zoo suffer from poor conditions – there are also some very large, natural enclosures (for example, those for the deer, lions and tigers). But I find it hard to forget the almost nightmarish vision of the gloomy, dilapidated concrete buildings that house the large and small primates. So I had to make an effort to be tolerant towards a civilisation so different from my own – and, incidentally, of great antiquity – as I strolled around Shanghai Zoo, sad to see that a fine elephant house was closed due to disrepair, pleased by the sight of a pair of extremely rare rufous-necked hornbills (Aceros nipalensis) in a very large, well-planted aviary, feeling sorry for some dirty, scrawny ring-tailed lemurs, admiring a group of takins in superb condition. . . Equipped with my sketch-pad, I tried to commit to paper the appearance of these animals which I was seeing for the first time. These moments of intense scrutiny, rather than the drawings which resulted from them, were the real treasures I brought back from China. How could I forget my games of hide-and-seek with a family of golden monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellanae), as I tried to form a clear impression of their snub noses, to capture the gorilla-like gait of the male, to find the exact colour of the glints of light in the long golden hair which fell from his back almost to the ground? Or the angry face of an Asian golden cat (Catopuma temmincki) of a Chinese subspecies with a magnificent marbled coat, still very wild, hissing and showing its teeth, still wavering between aggressiveness and acceptance of its henceforth cloistered life?

 

Shanghai Zoo is enormous – 74 hectares – and so is its collection of 6,000 animals representing 600 species. The public come in crowds or stay away as the day passes by, but above all they come here to relax. The zoo grounds include amusement parks with small Ferris wheels and roller-coasters, and everywhere there are unofficial picnic areas. I even saw a troop of soldiers doing exercises on a lawn, absorbed in their machine-like gestures, very different from the graceful choreography which can be seen in other public parks in China early every morning.

 

It's never easy to draw in public. Inquisitive people love to look over your shoulder and make humorous comments, ruining the poor artist's concentration as he struggles against his inability to capture on paper the changing face of reality. But doing it in China brings other rewards, because the bystanders enjoy the sight so much. Sometimes entire groups surrounded me, lifting their children onto their shoulders for a better view, pushing the old folk to the front, trying to help me by using a crust of bread to make an animal move (which it invariably did, resulting in my losing at a stroke some splendid pose which I had spent so long waiting for). One has to accept all that, and also the fact that the public feed the animals, even the greatest rarities. For example, I saw golden monkeys and other langurs being bombarded with big handfuls of cake. A Chinese zoo would be a very dangerous place for any Western nutritionist with a weak heart!

 

Beijing Zoo

 

To walk round the 90-hectare Beijing Zoo demands from an artist even better footwear and greater strength of mind. This is in fact the biggest zoo in China and, quite rightly, attracts a vast number of visitors (ten million a year), some of them from a long way away. The unfortunate artist finds himself transformed into a public entertainer, while all the time he wants only one thing – to achieve just the right relationship that he needs with an animal in order to record its special magic. To draw a giant panda may seem to us a commonplace thing, but to draw one at Beijing Zoo is a real challenge. But what a joy it is to sketch a male argali (Ovis ammon) with a fine pair of horns, or some bharals (Pseudois nayaur), or kiangs (Equus kiang), or North Chinese leopards (Panthera pardus japonensis), or an agitated pack of dholes (Cuon alpinus)! I was able to watch four Baird's tapirs (one wonders how they had got there) and some enormous Tibetan bears (Ursus arctos pruinosus), recognisable by their ears, which are noticeably more hairy than those of other brown bears. (I have seen another specimen of this subspecies in Kobe Zoo in Japan, but I don't think there are any today in any Western zoo.) I was not able to see the only wild Bactrian camel in captivity, nor the breeding group of crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), which are kept off exhibit. Black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis), on the other hand, were numerous.

 

In both Beijing and Shanghai Zoos, even the most casual observer would notice that the large animals – elephants, deer, equids etc. – have green flanks. This is easy to explain: the bars are painted (badly) the same colour, and the animals rub against them. They also lick them – enough to give a nutritionist some sleepless nights!

 

There are several highlights in Beijing's reptile house: an enormous salt-water crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), a very big group of adult Chinese alligators (who have access to sunshine during the summer months), and an important collection of chelonians. Some way off, a huge marine turtle paddles in 40 cm of water and a Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) seems to look at you out of the prehistoric past.

 

At both zoos, animal names – Chinese, scientific, and often English as well – are usually displayed, but only to species level (at least, in the case of the scientific and English ones). This can be rather frustrating when you assume you're looking at interesting subspecies (e.g. South China tigers, takins, deer, wolves), or would like to know the exact provenance of individual specimens (e.g. elephants and many birds, reptiles and amphibians). I wouldn't be surprised if the red pandas I saw in these two zoos belonged to different subspecies from those bred in the West, for they seemed very large.

 

My experiences in China had been so thrilling that on my return to Europe I decided to embark on a month-long tour of German zoos to draw animals from life. But that is another story. . .

 

In Shanghai Zoo, the golden takins (Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi) are kept in a high barred enclosure and visitors can come up close and touch the animals. I had put my box of watercolours on a low wall, and the biggest male was very inquisitive, prancing to and fro in front of me. All of a sudden he stood up on his hind legs, leaned on the bars, and stuck his head over. The image of this splendid golden animal standing upright before me – his great square head overhanging me, with an inquiring expression in his beautiful large eyes, as if he wanted to see the portrait I was making of him – that image will stay with me always.

 

Sources

Tan Bangjie (1996): Into the Wild: The Rare and Endangered Species of China. New World Press, Beijing.

Chu Chuanheng (1996): Zoos Allover China. Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Beijing.

Reichenbach, H. (2001): The arks of Beijing. International Zoo News 48 (1): 16–30.

 

[Frank Pé's books have been translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, Danish and Swedish, but unfortunately not yet into English. Readers interested in buying the French versions should contact him at his e-mail address (given below). Examples of his work can be seen on two websites, www.bdcouvertes.com/zoo and www.broussaille.net.]

 

Frank Pé, 65A rue de la Houssaie, 5300 Landenne, Belgium. (E-mail: frank.pe@village.uunet.be)

 

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VARIATION IN RELIABILITY OF MEASURING BEHAVIOURS OF REINTRODUCED ORPHAN GORILLAS

 

BY TONY KING, ELKE BOYEN AND SANDER MUILERMAN

 

Introduction

 

In any study of animal behaviour, it is important (although often overlooked) to test the reliability of the data collected (Martin and Bateson, 1993). Such reliability-testing allows quantification of the level of confidence which can be given to the interpretation of the results. Without this testing, it cannot be determined whether the results provide a true reflection of the behaviours performed by the study animals, or are simply a function of the methodology employed, or of the observers themselves. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the reliability of data collected during a quantitative survey of the behaviour of a reintroduced group of orphan gorillas in the Republic of Congo.

 

Project background and study group

 

Despite the long history of behavioural and ecological research on the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) (e.g. Schaller, 1963), the much more widespread western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is still relatively unknown in the wild (Dixson, 1981). This imbalance may be attributed to the successful habituation of several groups of mountain gorillas, something that is proving difficult to achieve in the wild with the seemingly more elusive western lowland gorilla. However, an ambitious programme run by the John Aspinall Foundation, a U.K.-based charitable organisation, in partnership with the governments of the Republic of Congo and of Gabon, provides a unique opportunity to study western lowland gorillas at close range in their natural habitat. The Projet Protection des Gorilles has been working in Congo since 1986, and in Gabon since 1998, facilitating the confiscation by the respective governments of young gorillas orphaned by the bush-meat trade, rehabilitating them, and eventually reintroducing them in small groups to protected areas from which the species has been extirpated in recent history (Courage et al., 2001; Cousins, 2002).

 

These reintroduced groups are, by necessity, of artificial composition. They are relatively even-aged, unrelated, of random sex-ratios, and, at least upon release, with all members still considered juvenile or sub-adult. In contrast, naturally-occurring gorilla groups in West Africa are generally composed of a single adult `silver-back' dominant male, plus several adult females, sub-adult `black-back' males, juveniles and infants (Parnell, 2002). However, they have been raised in close contact with humans, and so can now be relatively easily observed as they grow and mature.

 

The group of released gorillas selected for the initial behavioural survey, and therefore for this reliability study, consisted of ten (4.6) individuals aged between 2.5 and 8 years (Table 1). Nine of these had been fully released in June 2001 into the Reserve Naturelle des Gorilles de Lesio-Louna, Republic of Congo, an area of extensive Loudetia and Hyparrhenia grasslands with swampy gallery forests along watercourses (see Courage et al., 2001; Cousins, 2002). The tenth and youngest (Hélène) was introduced to the group in July 2001 before finally being released with them in November 2001. The group had lived in complete freedom since the full release, although with almost daily monitoring by local staff, and were nutritionally independent except for the giving of milk after the introduction of Hélène.

 

Table 1. Composition of gorillas within the reintroduced group used for this study.

Code        Name        Sex         Estimated   Arrival date

                              age (years)

F1          Koto        female            8          1996

M1         Djeke       male        7.5         1996

M2          Kelle       male        6.5         1996

M3          Pikounda    male        5.5         1999

F2          Mpoumbou    female            5.5        1997

F3          Massabi     female            5          1998

F4          Tchivoulou  female            5          1999

M4          Kama        male        4           1998

F5          Louboko     female            3.5        1999

F6          Hélène            female            2.5        2001

 

Methods

 

The methodology for measuring behaviour of the group was developed and tested during July 2002. Focal animal sampling, i.e. recording information for just a single individual during a sample period, was found to be the most practical sampling rule, due to the combination of the tendency of several members of the group to disperse while foraging and the low-range of visibility within the forest. It was necessary to utilise two separate recording methods simultaneously to adequately sample the wide range of behaviours performed by the gorillas. Common or lengthy behaviours were most easily sampled by instantaneous recording (noting the behaviour being performed at regular instants in time). However, rare or short-duration behaviours could only be adequately sampled by continuous recording (noting the occurrence of a behaviour every time it is performed during a period of time).

 

Therefore, a list of 65 behaviours was compiled following the preliminary observations, each defined carefully to ensure a high level of mutual exclusivity, and to avoid differences in interpretation between observers or over time. Each behaviour was then assigned to the appropriate recording methodology, with those assigned to continuous recording being referred to as `target' behaviours. Some rare but lengthy behaviours were included in both recording methods. It was envisaged that the two recording methods would be analysed separately, with the instantaneous recording giving proportions of time spent in common or lengthy behaviours, and the continuous recording giving frequencies (but not durations) of rare or short-duration (target) behaviours.

 

Each sample period was set at 50 minutes. Instantaneous data was taken at 1-minute intervals, for 50 sample points. On each sample point, the following details were recorded: the height from the ground (in metres) of the focal gorilla, the behaviour of the focal gorilla, the direction of the behaviour (if relevant), the name of the gorilla closest to the focal gorilla (if the behaviour of the focal gorilla was directional, the name of the gorilla involved in the behaviour of the focal gorilla was recorded even if it was not in fact the closest), the distance (in metres) to that gorilla (0 was recorded if the gorillas were in physical contact), and, if feeding, the food-type (e.g. leaf, fruit, shoot, faeces), and the name of the food (if known).

 

Continuous data was taken simultaneously throughout the sample period, between each sample point and to the end of the fiftieth minute. All occurrences of target behaviours performed by the focal gorilla were recorded. Target behaviours performed by non-focal gorillas were also recorded if they were considered to involve or impact the focal gorilla, with the name of the gorilla exhibiting the behaviour, and, if relevant, the direction and recipient of the behaviour. Additional non-target behaviours were also recorded if considered to contribute to a sequence of target behaviours.

 

Time of day was split into three periods (late morning: 08:30–10:59; midday: 11:00–12:59; early afternoon: 13:00–15:29). Each sample period was fitted entirely into just one of these time-periods. For this reliability study, one sample was taken in each of the three time periods, each day for three consecutive days (28–30/08/2002), giving a total of nine sample periods. The youngest gorilla was excluded from the sampling, while the remaining nine were sampled once each, with the sampling order selected at random. For the purposes of the reliability-testing, each sample was recorded simultaneously by three observers, except one sample which was missed by one of the observers.

 

Instantaneous data was summarised for each sample period for each observer as proportions of sample points spent by the focal gorilla in performing each particular behaviour, and in proximity to each other individual gorilla. In addition to the one-minute interval analysis, the instantaneous data was also analysed as if collected at five- or ten-minute intervals, to investigate the effect of sample interval on the results and their reliability.

 

Continuous data was summarised for each sample period for each observer as frequency of occurrence of each target behaviour within the sample period, both by the focal gorilla and by non-focal gorillas.

 

The reliability of the results obtained for each behaviour was quantified by comparison of these proportions and frequencies between each of the three pairs of observers. Pearson Correlation Coefficients (r) were calculated between each observer-pair, for each specific behaviour. Coefficient values approaching 1 indicate high inter-observer reliability, and therefore provide a high level of confidence in the validity of the results and therefore of the recording methods. Values approaching 0, and negative correlations, indicate low inter-observer reliability, and therefore highlight unreliable results and inadequacies in the recording methods for that specific behaviour. To summarise several values, average Pearson Correlation Coefficients were calculated by converting each coefficient to their Fisher z transforms (z = 0.5ln[(1+r)/(1-r)] = tanh-1r), calculating the arithmetic mean of the z transforms, and converting the mean z transform back into a correlation (Martin and Bateson, 1993). However, the z transform was invalid for correlations of 1, so median values were also used to summarise several correlations.

 

Results

 

Fifty-three behaviours were recorded during this trial study, 49 from the original list of 65 defined following the preliminary observations, plus an extra four. Two of the extra behaviours were added to provide information when the focal gorilla was out of sight, but when its location and general activity was known (out-of-sight: rest/forage and out-of-sight: aggressive interaction). However, many of the behaviours were recorded only very rarely, and so for ease of presentation and comprehension, the following analysis has concentrated only on those behaviours which made up 90% of the data collected. In all observer-comparison tables, sample sizes (n) are nine for observer pair 1 and eight for observer pairs 2 and 3.

 

During the course of the nine sample-periods of instantaneous recording, the three observers recorded a total of 27 behaviours, although 90% of the data recorded was accounted for by just eight behaviours, and 26% by a single behaviour (Table 2). For six of these eight behaviours, inter-observer reliability was very high, with Pearson Correlation Coefficients of over 0.90 for all observer-comparisons. For the other two behaviours, inter-observer reliability was fairly high for one (Observe, average r = 0.91), but low for the other (Move, average r = 0.37).

 

The closest-neighbour data exhibited a similarly high level of inter-observer reliability, with only the least frequently recorded closest-neighbour showing an average correlation below 0.90 (Table 3). There were also very high levels of inter-observer reliability for the recording of the major food-types eaten, although the occurrence of ant-eating was overlooked by two of the three observers (Table 4).

 

Increasing the sample-interval decreased the total number of behaviours recorded, but had little impact on the summary proportions of the commonly-observed behaviours, with the exception of `Eat' which decreased with increasing the sample-interval. However, it did affect inter-observer reliability, which decreased with an increase in the sample-interval (Table 5).

 

During the continuous recording, the three observers recorded a total of 18 target behaviours for the focal gorilla, with a further 19 non-target behaviours recorded to supplement the understanding of the target behaviour sequences. Twenty target behaviours were also recorded for non-focal gorillas, as they were believed by the observers to impact the focal gorilla, with an additional 15 behaviours recorded as supplementary information. The inter-observer reliability for the continuous recording was generally lower than for the instantaneous recording, although high correlations were achieved for some of the more frequent and unambiguous target behaviours (e.g. `Chest-beat' and `Charge') (Tables 6 and 7). Blank values indicate behaviours that were overlooked by one or both observers (e.g. `Hit' was recorded by two of the three observers, and `Posture' by just one observer).

 

Discussion

 

This study has highlighted variations in the reliability of measuring different behaviours of a group of orphan gorillas reintroduced to their natural habitat, variations that need to be considered when interpreting results from future behavioural studies using these or similar methodologies. Most of the behaviours measured by instantaneous sampling, that is behaviours that are commonly performed or of lengthy duration, and other variables such as nearest-neighbour and food-parts consumed, were shown to be very reliably measured. One notable exception was the unreliable measurement of a commonly performed behaviour, `Move'. Variation in reliability was higher for behaviours recorded by continuous sampling, that is behaviours rarely performed or of short duration. Only one of these behaviours was measured as reliably as those recorded by instantaneous sampling. Several others were measured less reliably, but to a level that should be considered acceptable to give a reasonable impression of the behaviours performed in reality by the focal gorilla. The reliability of measuring behaviours of non-focal gorillas was lower again, although despite the increased influence of observer-interpretation in deciding what to record, a selection of behaviours were measured to what should be considered an acceptable level of reliability, particularly those involving direct aggressive interaction with the focal gorilla.

 

The variable reliability scores presented here illustrate how care must be taken when interpreting results from behavioural studies in general, and the proposed studies of the behaviour of the released groups of orphan gorillas within the Projet Protection des Gorilles. However, they can also be used to identify modifications to data-collection and analysis that would increase the reliability of future results. While most common behaviours can be measured by the methods described here, it may be necessary to merge several similar behaviours into more general categories for a truer representation of general activity patterns. For example, behaviours such as `Climb' and `Descend' could be incorporated into the more general `Move', at least for analysis purposes. The advantage of retaining these more precise descriptions during the data-collection phase is that it allows reclassification at a later date should the need arise. This would be particularly important should the results eventually be compared with other studies that use similar but not identical methods. Similarly, some of the less-reliable target behaviours may need to be grouped into behavioural sequences, rather than analysed separately, as they often occur dependently of each other (e.g. a `Chest-beat' may often be followed by a `Charge', a `Smash vegetation' and a `Posture', a display sequence that would generally be noted by any observer, even if different observers may miss or interpret differently one or more of the components). Such grouping of behaviours into sequences should increase the reliability of the data, and should allow more meaningful comparison between observers and over time. Again, though, it is worth retaining the increased level of detail at the data-collection phase.

 

The sample interval analysis illustrated how reliability declined with increasing sample interval. Therefore the 1-minute sample interval will be retained for the proposed behavioural study of this group. However, the results from the 5-minute sample interval were also mostly highly reliable, and the use of this sample interval may be beneficial in allowing extra time in the field for making observations of rare or discrete behaviours, and in reducing data-input requirements.

 

In conclusion, this study has highlighted the variability in the reliability of measuring different behaviours, a factor that is often overlooked in behavioural studies despite its implications for the interpretation of the results. Nevertheless, the reliability of the data collected in this study was high for the majority of behaviours and related variables. Therefore the methods described here, with some minor modifications, should provide reliable quantitative data on the behaviour of this reintroduced group of orphan gorillas, and other similar groups within the Projet Protection des Gorilles, and should be repeatable by different observers for comparisons over time and between groups. We hope that long-term measuring of behaviour will provide the opportunity to assess the development and adaptation of the reintroduced orphan gorillas, and to develop and test hypotheses on the behaviour and ecology of the western lowland gorilla in its natural habitat.

 

Acknowledgements

We thank the Ministère de l'Economie Forestière et de l'Environnement of the Republic of Congo, and the John Aspinall Foundation of U.K., for permission to undertake this research in the Lesio-Louna Reserve. We also thank the staff of the Projet Protection des Gorilles, Republic of Congo, in particular Ian Henderson, Christelle Chamberlan, Nicaise Ngoulou, Ossanda, Ghislain Mvila and Albertine Ndokila. Waterproof notebooks were generously donated by BCB International Ltd.

 

References

Courage, A., Henderson, I., and Watkin, J. (2001): Orphan gorilla reintroduction: Lesio-Louna and Mpassa. Gorilla Journal 22: 33–35.

Cousins, D. (2002): Natural plant foods utilized by gorillas in the former Brazzaville Orphanage and the Lesio-Louna Reserve. International Zoo News 49 (4): 210–218.

Dixson, A.F. (1981): The Natural History of the Gorilla. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.

Martin, P., and Bateson, P. (1993): Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Parnell, R.J. (2002): Group size and structure in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Mbeli Bai, Republic of Congo. American Journal of Primatology 56: 193–206.

Schaller, G.B. (1963): The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behaviour. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

 

Tony King, Projet Protection des Gorilles, BP 13977, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo; Elke Boyen and Sander Muilerman, Hooigracht 69, 2312 KP Leiden, the Netherlands.

 

Table 2. Inter-observer reliability, given as Pearson Correlation Coefficients, for behaviours* conducted by the focal gorilla during instantaneous recording at 1-minute intervals. (*8 most frequently recorded behaviours (of 27 recorded), accounting for over 90% (91.3%) of data recorded.)

 

Behaviour Proportion Observer  Observer Observer Average

                     pair 1    pair 2   pair 3

Rest                  0.26    0.91     0.94      0.98     0.95

Eat       0.18        0.95    0.98     0.98      0.97

Out-of-sight:

  rest/forage         0.14    0.98     0.99      1.00     0.99

Play                  0.12    0.91     0.94      0.99     0.96

Sleep     0.10        0.99    0.99     1.00      1.00

Observe   0.06        0.98    0.87     0.74      0.91

Move      0.04        - 0.16  0.80     0.22      0.37

Self-play 0.02        1.00    0.99     0.99      0.99

Average               0.94    0.97     0.98      0.96

 

Table 3. Inter-observer reliability, given as Pearson Correlation Coefficients, for closest-neighbour data collected during 1-minute instantaneous recording.

 

Neighbour Proportion Observer  Observer Observer Average

code                          pair 1   pair 2   pair 3

F1        0.21        0.99    1.00     1.00      1.00

M2        0.14        0.98    0.89     0.93      0.94

F4        0.13        0.99    0.98     0.99      0.99

M1        0.10        0.89    0.92     0.90      0.90

F2        0.09        0.74    0.78     1.00      0.93

F3        0.08        0.98    0.98     0.99      0.98

M3        0.07        0.96    0.94     0.90      0.94

F6        0.06        1.00    1.00     0.99      1.00

M4        0.03        0.97    0.95     0.99      0.97

F5        0.01        0.83    0.65     0.65      0.72

Average               0.97    0.96     0.98      0.97

 

Table 4. Inter-observer reliability, given as Pearson Correlation Coefficients, for food type data collected during 1-minute instantaneous recording.

 

Food type Proportion Observer  Observer Observer Average

                     pair 1    pair 2   pair 3

Leaves    0.27        0.99    0.99     0.98      0.99

Fruit                 0.23    0.99     0.99      0.97     0.99

Shoot     0.21        0.98    0.96     0.98      0.98

Faeces    0.17        0.99    1.00     0.98      0.99

Ants                  0.11                                0.00

Roots     0.00                                   0.00

Average               0.93    0.95     0.91      0.93

 

Table 5. Comparison of different sample intervals on proportions of behaviours* conducted by the focal gorilla during instantaneous recording, and on inter-observer reliability, given as median values of Pearson Correlation Coefficients for 3 observers. (*8 most frequently recorded behaviours (of 27 recorded), accounting for over 90% (91.3%) of data recorded during 1-minute interval sampling.)

 

Behaviour     Proportion              Median Correlation Coefficient

              1-min.      5-min.      10-min.           1-min.      5-min.      10-min.

Rest          0.26  0.25  0.26        0.94  0.82  0.62

Eat           0.18  0.16  0.11        0.98  0.93  0.71

Out-of-sight:

 rest/forage  0.14  0.14  0.13        0.99  0.99  0.99

Play          0.12  0.11  0.12        0.94  0.95  0.86

Sleep         0.10  0.11  0.13        0.99  0.99  1.00

Observe       0.06  0.05  0.06        0.87  0.38  0.53

Move          0.04  0.04  0.04        0.22  0.32  - 0.22

Self-play      0.02 0.02  0.03        0.99  0.88  0.65

Median                                0.96  0.91  0.68

 

Table 6. Inter-observer reliability, given as Pearson Correlation Coefficients, for behaviours* conducted by the focal gorilla during continuous recording. (*8 most frequently recorded behaviours (of 18 recorded, excluding non-target behaviours), accounting for over 90% (92.7%) of data recorded).

 

Behaviour Mean      Observer  Observer Observer Median

          frequency pair 1    pair 2   pair 3

Chest-beat            3.33    0.95     0.96      0.94     0.95

Charge    1.26        0.98    0.80     0.86      0.86

Tree-beat 0.56        0.67    0.86     0.62      0.67

Hand-clap 0.48        0.81    1.00     1.00      1.00

Hit       0.39        0.40                      

Posture   0.33                                  

Investigate           0.26    0.65     0.65      1.00     0.65

Smash

 vegetation           0.24    0.58                      

Grab      0.22        0.88                      

Median                0.74    0.86     0.94      0.86

 

Table 7. Inter-observer reliability, given as Pearson Correlation Coefficients, for behaviours* conducted by non-focal gorilla during continuous recording. (*11 most frequently recorded behaviours (of 20 recorded, excluding non-target behaviours), accounting for over 90% (91.9%) of data recorded).

 

Behaviour Mean      Observer  Observer Observer Median

          frequency pair 1    pair 2   pair 3

Chest-beat            2.35    0.77     0.95      0.77     0.77

Charge    1.57        0.72    0.78     0.68      0.72

Cough     0.52        0.00    0.34     1.00      0.34

Hit       0.48        0.68                      

Attack    0.39        0.76    1.00     0.65      0.76

Intervene 0.37        1.00    1.00     1.00      1.00

Posture   0.35                                  

Tree-beat 0.33        0.80    1.00     0.80      0.80

Scream    0.22        0.94    0.65     0.34      0.65

Chase     0.15        1.00                      

Grab      0.15        0.66                      

Median                0.77    0.95     0.77      0.76

 

                                   *   *   *

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Dear Sir,

 

I think I may be able to shed some light on Raymond Owen's enquiry in IZN 50 (4) for more information about a platypus sent to London Zoo during World War II. This incredible, almost unbelievable, episode has acquired almost myth-like status, and yet it is true. The platypus in question was sent to Britain in about 1942 by the renowned Australian naturalist, David Fleay.

 

Fleay was the first person to breed the duck-billed platypus in captivity (1943) – an achievement of substance that was not to be repeated until 1999 – and probably knew more about Australia's fauna than anyone else at that time. In 1934 he created, and was subsequently put in charge of, the Australian section at Melbourne Zoo (the first professional scientist to be appointed to a curatorial position at the zoo), before becoming the first full-time director of the Sir Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary for Native Fauna at Healesville, Victoria (now known simply as the Healesville Sanctuary), which he ran for ten years between 1937 and 1947. After leaving Healesville, he started the Fauna Reserve at Barren Pines, Queensland.

 

To transport platypus by sea is no mean feat at the best of times when one considers this animal's exacting feeding requirements, but to do so at the height of a world war is even more incredible and problematical.

 

In the middle of the war Winston Churchill, for some obscure reason best known to himself, suddenly demanded a platypus. Maybe he thought the resultant publicity would help to take a war-weary nation's minds off the conflict and provide some light, perhaps even morale-boosting, relief. David Fleay was contracted to catch the animal and prepare it for the long sea voyage. He succeeded in procuring a young male and, after six months to get it used to captivity, it was put aboard the Port Philip. Fleay was unable to accompany the animal on its journey – as he did on a later (1947) export of one male and two female platypuses to the New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park) – so an apprentice was trained and given copious notes on how to look after it. At first everything went well and it looked as if the platypus would arrive safely in England. Then, tragically, just two days out from Liverpool, there was a U-boat alert, and depth charges were dropped. The noise of them exploding beneath the ship was more than the highly-strung platypus could bear and, rather inconsiderately, it died.

 

I hope this is of some help.

 

Kind regards,

Russell Tofts,

Kent House,

10 Royston Road,

Whittlesford,

Cambridge,

CB2 4NW, U.K.

 

                                   *   *   *

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

THE TOWER MENAGERIE by Daniel Hahn. Simon and Schuster, 2003. xxv + 260 pp. (+ 12 pp. of colour plates), hardback. ISBN 0–7432–2081–1. £15.99.

 

Recently, when reading Samuel Pepys's diary, I was naturally interested to learn that, on 3 May 1662, he took the sons and daughters of his aristocratic patron to see the lions in the Tower of London. Thanks to Daniel Hahn's informative book, I now know that this is the earliest record of children (other than royal ones) being given this particular treat – the first children's `zoo visit' in history, one could almost say. But at that time, the Tower menagerie could already boast a much longer history than any modern zoo. It was in 1235 that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II – himself an enthusiastic amateur zoologist – sent his prospective brother-in-law King Henry III a gift of three leopards. These were not the first leopards ever brought to England; Henry I had kept some – as well as lions, lynxes, camels and a porcupine – in his palace at Woodstock near Oxford. Mediaeval rulers could hardly avoid acquiring menageries, for exotic animals seem to have been the obvious gift in those days for `the man who has everything'. (The custom lingered on into the 20th century, and may not be quite obsolete yet.)

 

Henry's leopards seem not to have lasted long; but the menagerie of which they were the first reluctant inmates did – for exactly six centuries, in fact. The most spectacular arrivals in the early years were a polar bear and an elephant, gifts from the kings of Norway and France respectively. (The elephant, as a contemporary drawing reproduced here conclusively shows, was of the African species.) Other animals mentioned at various times before 1700 include tiger, wolf, brown bear, jackal and hyena. But lions were generally the mainstay of the collection: indeed, `to see the lions' became a stock phrase, meaning to see the highlights of the big city. Their fortunes were linked in the popular imagination to those of the monarch, so when a king or queen sickened and died one of the Tower lions was expected to die in sympathy. (Oddly enough, this sometimes really did happen.)

 

If part of the definition of a zoo is that it should be accessible to the public, the Tower menagerie starts to fit the bill by the early 15th century. Not everyone was allowed in, of course: some degree of social standing was required to visit what was theoretically a royal residence. An admission fee seems generally to have been charged, though this could be waived in return for a contribution to the animals' rations – a dog or cat was suggested as a suitable item! It was only from about 1660 on, Mr Hahn suggests, that the menagerie became truly public, and indeed `by far the most popular tourist attraction in the capital'. One attraction, though, never really existed: advertisements and invitations to view the `annual washing of the lions in the moat' first appeared shortly before 1 April 1698, and were still fooling the gullible more than 150 years later!

 

The records are insufficiently detailed to permit any assessment of the husbandry standards in the menagerie. Longevity may give occasional clues. Ridiculous claims – `over 100 years'! – were made for some of the lions; 15 or 20 seem more plausible figures. By the 18th century successful breeding was commonplace. Lions, of course, will notoriously survive in almost any conditions; but a leopard alive in 1704 `but now in decay' had been there since Charles II's time (he died in 1685), which seems reasonable even by modern standards. The same account mentions two `cats of the mountains' (an imprecise term, here possibly ocelots or pumas) `walking continually backwards and forwards', surely an early example of stereotypical behaviour. Ironically, in the 1820s, shortly before its final closure, the menagerie was far better run than ever before. It also included a bigger collection of animals: a magnificent poster, reproduced in The Tower Menagerie, lists – along with the predictable big cats – grizzly and American black bears, porcupines, an ocelot, a zebra, `a beautiful male nylghau', kangaroos, coatis, raccoons, an `infinite variety' of monkeys, a South American tapir, ostriches, pelicans, an adjutant stork, crowned cranes, vultures, eagles, owls, spoonbills, pheasants, parrots and `a great variety of other birds', boa constrictors and an anaconda. Oh yes, and a `majestic elk from the East Indies' (almost certainly a sambar). All in all, a very respectable collection, and on view to anyone for a shilling.

 

Daniel Hahn seems not to be a specialist in either zoology or history, and just occasionally it shows. He apparently believes that hyenas are dogs and civets are cats. He suggests that Henry III's white bear might have been `a white strain of black bear': such a colour phase does occur in the American black bear (mainly on the west coast), but it would be a highly improbable animal to have been acquired by a 13th-century king of Norway, whereas polar bears had been one of Greenland's luxury exports since Viking times. He correctly identifies the `shah goest' kept in the Tower in the 1760s as a caracal (as is obvious from a contemporary illustration), but describes it as `inexplicably named', and then proceeds to make two incorrect attempts to explain it. (The name is, as the Oxford English Dictionary would have told him had he looked, a corruption of siyah gosh, the Persian for `black ear', which is an exact equivalent of the Turkish qarah qulak, from which `caracal' derives.) He

describes a shilling as `a month's wage for the average Londoner' in the 1820s, making the admission charge to the Tower seem ludicrously high; `a day's wage' would be nearer to the truth, though still an underestimate.

 

These are minor blemishes, however. Mr Hahn has an interesting story to tell, and presents it with elegance and charm. His dramatis personae include many figures better known in very different contexts, such as Sir Christopher Wren, who designed bird cages as well as churches, and the Duke of Wellington, who found the menagerie and its swarms of visitors irritating obstacles in his plans to revitalise the Tower's military capabilities. To be fair, Wellington was also interested in the newly-founded Zoological Society of London, and consequently happy to see the animals moved to a new home in Regent's Park. Mr Hahn makes the interesting point that in the Society's early years its members-only collection was much more exclusive than the menagerie had been – a Londoner had more chance of seeing exotic animals in 1820 than in 1840. The Tower Menagerie is full of illuminating comments of this kind, as well as entertaining digressions on a great variety of subjects. An example: What did children's alphabets use for `Z' before `Zebra' (and indeed `Zoo') became household words? The answer (I'd never have guessed!) is apparently `Zealot'. And finally, the book is beautifully presented – the illustrations, both coloured and black-and-white, are attractive and relevant, and even the dust-wrapper is one of the most eye-catching I have seen for a long time.

 

Nicholas Gould

 

A CONVERSATION WITH MARVIN JONES with a preface by Mark Rosenthal and Ken Kawata and a foreword by Clayton F. Freiheit. Published by the Milwaukee County Zoo (Wisconsin, U.S.A.), 2003. 69 pp., paperback. Copies may be ordered from Mark Rosenthal (Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL 60614, U.S.A.), price US$14 post paid.

 

Marvin Jones is an almost legendary figure in the world zoo community. An insatiable zoo visitor for well over half a century, he has amassed probably a greater stock of knowledge about zoos than anyone else, ever. (This may sound a rather sweeping statement, but it will be confirmed by almost any of the hundreds – perhaps thousands – of zoo people who are personally acquainted with him.) Much of this knowledge is filed away in typed and hand-written documents in his San Diego apartment – Marvin remains almost totally computer-illiterate – but much, too, is stored in his brain, a reservoir ready to be tapped by anyone who meets him. (I wish I'd been carrying a portable tape-recorder on the occasion when he and I walked round Howletts Wild Animal Park together!) In A Conversation with Marvin Jones, Mark Rosenthal of Lincoln Park Zoo and Ken Kawata of Staten Island Zoo present this remarkable man's reminiscences and opinions in his own words.

 

In his teens, Marvin worked briefly as a keeper at Philadelphia Zoo – and was fairly quickly fired, though for reasons which do him no discredit. But, paradoxically, the real turning-point in his life came in 1951, when he was drafted into the U.S. army and posted to Germany, where he remained until 1956. This gave him the opportunity to visit many European zoos and report back on them to his American friends – a process of transatlantic communication which continued, in reverse, after his return to the U.S.A. (Early on, inevitably, he began to write for the fledgling International Zoo News.) His army career continued to provide opportunities for foreign travel; but concurrently he was building up his zoo contacts and accumulating animal records. His voluntary retirement in 1972 left him with a modest pension and the chance to devote himself to zoos full-time. Today, more than 30 years later, he's still at it – this must have been one of the most productive `retirements' in history!

 

Marvin's closest involvement has been with the Zoological Society of San Diego, for which he worked as registrar from 1981 to 1993. Outside this, he is best known for his studies of animal longevity, in which he is generally acknowledged to be the foremost authority. But there are few matters relating to zoos in the last half-century about which Marvin has no pertinent comments to make. Of particular interest are the sections of this book in which he compares and contrasts the zoos of a number of countries such as the United States, Britain, France, Germany and a few more. His views on the British zoo scene make depressing reading – he finds the number of zoos, and of the animals in them, decreasing. The main reasons for this, he suggests, are the lack of financial support from local or national government and the power of animal activist groups such as Zoo Check. France, by contrast, he sees as a country where zoos are numerous and prospering, though very little news about them gets through to the zoo community in America. This he attributes in part to the fact that `the French have always resisted using English'. Here he strikes a chord with me – IZN's circulation in France is less than one-fifth of that in Germany, less than half of that in the Netherlands, and the reason, I'm sure, is primarily linguistic. It is a pity, as French zoos obviously have a lot to offer and deserve to be better known internationally.

 

The last third of the book consists of Marvin's answers to questions put by American zoo men and women. These range widely over zoo matters past, present and future, and I have room to mention only a few random examples. `Who was the most memorable zoo director you have known?' – he opts for Lee Crandall, nominally general curator of the Bronx, but its director in all but title, with Wilhelm Windecker of Cologne a close second. `What do you consider to be the world's four top zoos?' – his vote goes to two pairs, in San Diego and Berlin, with the Bronx as runner-up. `Are there any skills young zoo professionals are not highlighting that they should?' – interestingly, his reply is manners (in e.g. replying to correspondence) and animal identification. (On the first of these, my own experience is more favourable than Marvin's; on the second, I have little direct evidence, but have heard some alarming stories.) `Can you tell us about the war years in Europe and how zoos were affected?' This question inspires a six-page dissertation, with some curious facts, such as that a number of prisoners-of-war were lucky enough to be assigned to work in German zoos.

 

A Conversation with Marvin Jones, as its editors admit, offers no more than a preliminary sample, a small fraction of what could be published. Zoo people will welcome it, but it will inevitably whet their appetites for more!

 

Nicholas Gould

 

DESERT LIZARDS: CAPTIVE HUSBANDRY AND PROPAGATION by Randall L. Gray. Krieger, 2003. xiii + 130 pp., numerous colour photos, hardback. ISBN 1–57524–160–9. $27.50

 

Until I studied their lists on the internet, I had always assumed that the Krieger Publishing Company, of Malabar, Florida, specialised in herpetological books. I was wrong: they publish works on such diverse topics as space technology and African history. But it was an understandable mistake, for an astonishing wealth of books about reptiles and amphibians appear under the Krieger imprint, ranging from the highly specialised (such as Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry, reviewed in IZN 49:4, 227–228) through to introductory guides targeting the popular end of the market. Desert Lizards comes somewhere towards the latter end of the spectrum, being aimed primarily at the private keeper.

 

Randall Gray has personally kept these animals for 40 years, making him something more than an amateur. The book is systematically arranged, with general chapters on simulating desert environments and on the feeding and breeding of the lizards, followed by separate chapters on six different taxonomic groups – spiny-tailed lizards, chuckwallas, desert iguanas, horned lizards, collared lizards and geckos. Much of the book's husbandry advice is in fact derived from zoos, and it has to be admitted that many of these species are not really suited to any but the most dedicated private individuals. Some, such as the spiny-tailed lizards (Uromastyx spp.) are CITES-listed, and collection for the pet trade is probably a major cause of some species' decline in the wild. Mr Gray is aware of this, but still believes private breeders can make a significant contribution to their future conservation.

 

Whatever one's view of private animal keepers (personally I'm cautiously in favour of them), as long as they exist it's obviously desirable that they should have access to the best possible information on caring for their charges. On that basis, Desert Lizards does a good job, going into considerable detail on such matters as temperature requirements, diet and reproduction. It is sufficiently professional to be of use to any zoo venturing into these animals for the first time. I was alarmed, though, to see in the chapter on collared lizards (Crotaphytus spp.) an enthusiastic comment on the possibility of selective breeding for new colours and patterns. This chapter is contributed by another author, and I am surprised that Randall Gray was willing to publish a sentiment so opposed to the general conservation-minded tone of his book.

 

Nicholas Gould

 

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CONSERVATION

 

Reintroduced guans breed in the wild

 

The white-winged guan (Penelope albipennis) is an endemic Peruvian bird that only inhabits the dry forests on the coast of north-western Peru. Considered to be extinct for an entire century, it was rediscovered in 1977, but its wild population comprises fewer than 300 individuals. Gustavo del Solar, one of the rediscoverers, founded a breeding centre to study and breed this species, with a primary objective of reintroducing birds hatched and raised in captivity into their wild habitat in an attempt to save the species from complete extinction. Today, the breeding centre has about 100 individuals.

 

In 2000, the White-winged Guan Reintroduction Pilot Project was implemented, and the 16 most promising candidates for reintroduction were selected from the breeding centre. To start the adaptation process, the birds were first moved to a large semi-natural cage that was constructed in part of their habitat and included natural water sources. They spent between six and 12 months in the enclosure before release. The birds were conditioned to raptors using a trained hawk. Their legs were banded for identification and ten of them were equipped with radio-transmitters in order to monitor them in the wild.

 

On 23 September 2001, the first white-winged guans were released into their natural habitat. The release site was located in the Chaparri Private Conservation Area, which contains part of the species' former range, from which it was extirpated by hunting. Local people are completely involved and expect to improve their incomes through ecotourism.

 

After release, at least three pairs formed and all of them attempted to breed in the next breeding season (January to April 2002). Artificial nests (similar to the ones at the breeding centre) were provided, but only one pair used them. The other two pairs constructed their own nests, similar in shape and position. Two of the nests were predated at the egg stage. Only one pair, who had located their nest in a tree five metres above the ground and well covered by vines, successfully incubated two eggs. Only one was fertile. During the first days of April 2002, the first offspring of the reintroduced birds hatched in the wild. This chick – technically considered a wild one – was successfully raised by its parents and is still alive. At about 11 months old, this bird left its parents and met a small group of reintroduced guans, and then moved to a neighbouring ravine.

 

This successful fledging suggests that is possible for white-winged guans to breed in the wild after release and that they can construct their own nests, even though captive-born. All the released birds were sexually mature at release. The positive attitude of people in the release site area is important in order to ensure that only natural causes affect the released group.

 

Fernando Angulo Pratalongo in WPA News No. 71 (Summer 2003)

 

Condor survival hinges on lead issues

 

A piece of lead just 4 mm long inside the gut of a free-flying female condor, AC-8, was enough to send the levels on a field lead-testing kit off the charts recently. (The wild-released birds are routinely tested for lead by biologists.) Sadly, lead – the birds' historical nemesis, and one that once brought these Pleistocene-era birds to the brink of extinction – continues to pose the greatest single threat to the California Condor Recovery Program today.

 

AC-8 was brought to Los Angeles Zoo for treatment on 14 November 2002. Though she was not exhibiting any apparent signs of poisoning, condors can starve to death because lead paralyzes their digestive systems. L.A. Zoo condor keepers and veterinarians ministered to her for three weeks in twice-daily treatment sessions that involved catching the 16-pound [7 kg] bird, administering supportive fluids, and performing chelation therapy.

 

Chelation therapy consists of administering the chemical EDTA (ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid) intravenously. The drug travels throughout the body gathering up such toxic metals as lead, arsenic and aluminum from various organs. (`Chelation' is derived from the Greek word chele, which means `a claw', a reference to the way in which an EDTA molecule grabs or binds onto a molecule of metal and carries it through the bloodstream to be excreted in the urine.)

 

Keepers and veterinarians waited patiently for AC-8 to pass the metal lump which they could see on her X-rays. The lump is currently undergoing laboratory analysis, but has been determined to be primarily lead. Though AC-8 has recovered and was released into the wild in late December last year, biologists and keepers know it is just a matter of time before another condor will need to be treated for lead, or die from its effects.

 

Condors can ingest lead by eating carcasses left behind by hunters who have not properly field-dressed their kill. Sometimes, too, they wind up with lead in their systems because they are shot at by poachers, even though this is illegal. Though some hunters have been careful not to endanger the wild condor population, overall there is a woeful lack of effort to educate the hunting community. In the absence of such information, Anthony Prieto, a Santa Barbara-area outdoorsman, has begun educating other hunters about using non-lead bullets and properly field-dressing their kill. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is currently in the process of developing a lead-awareness program called `Project Gut Pile'.

 

Critics of the program that releases condors into the wild say that USFWS officials are hesitant to upset hunters and the powerful National Rifle Association, which has said it would fight any efforts to further ban lead ammunition. Lead bullet alternatives do exist, though they are usually more expensive. The military use a `green' bullet made from tungsten, tin and nylon, because lead pollution has forced the closure of many of their firing ranges. Those bullets are not available to the public, and condor advocates say they won't be if government officials don't push for it.

 

Abridged from Zooscape (Los Angeles Zoo Member Newsletter) Vol. 26, No. 7 (February 2003)

 

U.S. zoos promote in situ bongo conservation

 

The Bongo SSP and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) have made significant progress with the Mountain Bongo Repatriation Project (MBRP). Bongo SSP Coordinator Ron Surratt of Fort Worth Zoo, Texas, traveled to Kenya in January to meet with Kenya Wildlife Service officials and to survey the forest property of the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, where the bongo breeding sanctuary will be located. The MBRP will send 22 bongo to the ranch to establish a breeding group in a fenced forest facility. The goal is to produce offspring from these bongo who will be suitable for reintroduction onto Mount Kenya. Construction of the facility begins in May 2003, and the first repatriation of bongo to Kenya is targeted for January 2004.

 

Adapted from Communiqué (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), April 2003

 

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MISCELLANY

 

 

Discovering Sri Lanka's `direct developing' frogs

 

In Sri Lanka there is very little fresh water – there are no lakes, and natural water bodies account for less than 1% of the land area. So for breeding, many Sri Lankan frogs are limited to streams, small pools or even tree holes. One Asian group of tree frogs makes nests of sticky foam on vegetation or rocks overhanging water, depositing the eggs within the safety of the nest's crusty exterior. When the tadpoles hatch, they squirm out of the foam and drop into the water below.

 

The next step on the evolutionary ladder would seem to be for frogs to lay their eggs directly on land. However, frog eggs are not watertight and they need moist ground. So where better to lay such eggs than a tropical rainforest! We in the Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka (WHT) have discovered an amazing diversity of frogs that lay their eggs on the rainforest floor, in the shade of the dense canopy – they are `direct developers'. High humidity is essential for keeping the eggs alive: if humidity drops below 70% for more than a few days, the eggs perish. Climate change could result in these species becoming extinct if the period between rains increases.

 

At the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's International Training Centre in Jersey I gained valuable experience working with poison-dart frogs, which has helped me to breed Sri Lankan frogs at our conservation-breeding centre in Sri Lanka's central mountains. I have now raised 22 clutches from four direct-developing species, firsts in captivity for these species. Initially I have been working with species found around the breeding centre, which we know are common. Perhaps in time I will attempt to breed rarer species, to gain information on their ecology and reproductive behaviour. Only about 5% of Sri Lanka's rainforest remains, and we have already lost several species. The task before us is to ensure that not one more species vanishes, and that is what we at WHT have committed ourselves to.

 

Abridged from Mohommed Bahir in On the Edge No. 94 (Spring 2003)

 

A biogeographical mystery solved?

 

The azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana) occurs in north-eastern Asia, in parts of China, Korea, Japan, northern Mongolia and south-eastern Russia, whilst 9,000 km to the west is a separate population in the cork oak forests of Spain and Portugal. Two theories have been put forward to explain this curious distribution. The first was that the species was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula in the 16th Century by Portuguese sailors; but the recent discovery of fossilised remains more than 44,000 years old in a cave in Gibraltar contradicts this idea. The second theory was that the species once ranged right across the Palaearctic region, but was separated by advancing ice during an ice age.

 

 A recent paper examining the mitochondrial DNA of the Asian and European populations [Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) B (2002) 269: 1671–1679] finds that there is a relatively deep genetic divergence between the two. Furthermore, birds from Iberia have a slightly darker blue plumage than those from Asia, and lack the pallid tips to the central tail feathers. The paper recommends that the two populations could be treated as separate species, with the Asian population remaining as C. cyana and the European population becoming C. cooki, with a suggested English name of Iberian magpie.

 

World Birdwatch Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 2002)

 

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INTERNATIONAL ZOO NEWS

 

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, Qatar

 

In a world-first breeding sensation, the rare flame bowerbird (Sericulus aureus ardens), sometimes also called the `golden bird' owing to its unique coloration, recently reproduced at Al Wabra. Very little is known about this beautiful but elusive species. It is found only in the wildest parts of New Guinea's mountain rainforests, and has only rarely been seen by scientists, and only photographed in the wild once or twice. So far a nest has never been found in the wild, nor have the eggs or young ever been described by science.

 

At Al Wabra the first ever data on this species' biology, behaviour and now also reproduction, have been collected from the six birds that currently live at our breeding centre. One of the things that have most astonished the experts here is that the young of these amazingly gold-coloured birds are covered in silvery-grey down.

 

In this first case the single egg was removed from the mother and artificially incubated. The care and rearing of the 12-3-gram hatchling was undertaken by the very successful Al Wabra bird hand-rearing team. During its early days the chick was blind and depended entirely on the care of its human surrogate parents, who fed it every one and a half hours with fresh papaya, mango, insects and meat from new-born rats. The baby will stay under intensive care and monitoring until it is old enough to start eating by itself, probably around six weeks of age.

 

We recently received 2.4 Somali wild asses, 1.4 from Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, and 1.0 from Tierpark Berlin, Germany. The Ústí group consists of two older mares with their offspring. The stallion from Berlin is fortunately not related to any of the females, so this combination might be a good basis for further breeding. Despite the big temperature difference, the animals have adapted easily to their new conditions. When they left Europe the average temperature there was only about 5°C, but on their arrival in Qatar it was 35°C! Thanks to the long-acting tranquilliser the animals were given two days before loading, they were very calm during transportation. Even their settling-in went off without any problems.

 

The newly-built holding facilities were finished shortly before the animals arrived. Three separate enclosures (7,000 m2 each) and a stable with ten boxes (4 m ´ 4 m each) had been build in the gravel and stony desert of Qatar. Thanks to artificial irrigation some groups of trees could be planted. Several shade roofs in the enclosures offer protection from the sun and make it easier for the animals to endure the high summer temperatures. The stables are equipped with air-conditioners.

 

We hope that due to these almost natural conditions, the asses will start breeding successfully soon, as our sand cats (Felis margarita harrisoni) are already doing. This is proving to be a good year for sand cat breeding at Al Wabra: all four females included in our breeding programme have given birth to three kittens each. Fortunately all of them are rearing their litters themselves. We have kept sand cats since 1997, but successful breeding only started after our management of this species changed in 2000. The first four kittens were reared in 2001, and due to construction work and keeper changes there were no offspring in 2002. Currently Al Wabra keeps 11.9 sand cats; all the animals included in the breeding programme are wild-caught in the sandy desert of southern Qatar on the border with Saudi Arabia, so it is a remarkable success that all our females are raising their offspring themselves. It is reported that sand cats, like other felids, have a tendency to kill their offspring when disturbed.

 

Simon Bruslund Jensen, Curator of Birds, and Catrin Hammer, Curator of Mammals

 

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

 

Emi, the zoo's female Sumatran rhino, is expecting her second calf. Known internationally as the mother of the first Sumatran rhino to be bred and born in captivity in 112 years, she is now [18 June 2003] 69 days into a new pregnancy. Emi's first calf, Andalas, born on 13 September 2001, thrived under his mother's attentive care and was weaned in October 2002 when he weighed in at over 900 lb [400 kg].

 

Zoo staff are cautiously optimistic about the current pregnancy. Emi has a history of early pregnancy loss, having miscarried five times in the first 90 days of gestation before carrying her first full-term calf. During the successful pregnancy, she was prescribed a daily dose of oral progesterone starting on day 16. To date, no progesterone has been administered during this pregnancy, in the hope that Emi will carry the fetus to term without this additional aid. Scientists and zoo staff are monitoring her progress very closely, and so far the pregnancy is progressing as expected, with both fetal heartbeat and head/limb movement apparent during ultrasound examinations.

 

Andalas, who now weighs over 1100 lb [500 kg], was relocated to Los Angeles Zoo in June 2003, in part to make room for his hoped-for sibling. Emi was sent to Cincinnati from Los Angeles in 1995 to breed with Cincinnati's male, Ipuh. Both Emi and Ipuh are on loan to the U.S. from the Indonesian government as part of a Sumatran Rhino Trust agreement developed between Indonesia and four U.S. zoos (Cincinnati, Bronx, Los Angeles and San Diego). Today, there are only 13 Sumatran rhinos in captivity, with just four of them in the United States, three at Cincinnati and one at the Bronx Zoo.

 

Abridged from a Cincinnati Zoo press release, 18 June 2003

 

Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park, Chard, U.K.

 

The Reeves's pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii) was formerly a common and widespread species in northern and central China, with numbers probably in the millions, but its range is now severely fragmented and it is classified as `vulnerable', with some estimates quoting a wild population of fewer than 5,000 birds. Unfortunately, wild males are sometimes killed for their tail feathers, which can be almost two metres long and are used in the head-dresses of some Beijing Opera costumes.

 

Feathers from a flock of male Reeves's pheasants at Cricket St Thomas will be collected from the birds after their annual moult in July. They will be sent to the World Pheasant Association in China, where they will be donated to the Beijing Opera. In this way, wild birds will be protected whilst the traditional Chinese Opera costumes can still be made and enjoyed. A large aviary has been specially constructed at the park to house the group of male birds.

 

The species has thrived in captivity and is seen quite frequently in zoos and other bird collections. Due to its rapid decline of the wild, the genetic diversity that exists in the captive population may prove to be vitally important in the survival of this species.

 

Abridged from John Corder in WPA News No. 71 (Summer 2003)

 

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

[A visitor's report by Ray Cimino]

 

It may be one of the best-known zoos in the world, but because of its location I suspect many `zoophiles' have never actually visited Jersey Zoo. I know I put off visiting for years in favour of going to places where I could see several zoos in one trip. But I finally made it to the Channel Island of Jersey last June and spent two days discovering its delights. I had seen little or nothing of the zoo on television, so I had no idea how it would look. First impressions count, and appropriately the first area one encounters entering the zoo is called `First Impressions'. Few zoos have such an impressive opening vista.

 

The first enclosure contains a pair of Andean (spectacled) bears as well as several coatis and oriental small-clawed otters. As with the zoo's other five-star enclosures, it is big, lushly planted and contains a great deal of additional artificial enrichment. And – as with most exhibits in the zoo – the visitor has to be patient and work at spotting the animals. The ethos is very much that the animals come first, visitors second. Under the hill of this enclosure is a building which is currently being turned into a Cloud Forest `immersion' exhibit, into which will be released various species which have not been conclusively decided upon yet. Beside this enclosure, work is about to begin on the construction of a walk-through aviary to be entitled `Jewels of the Forest', with the emphasis on oriental songbirds. These developments will enhance what are already excellent First Impressions.

 

There are only a few other large-scale exhibits, but they are all excellent. The zoo's six gorillas have a really good enclosure, although the indoor accommodation is not large. There are two islands for Sumatran orang-utans, with a small family of lar gibbons sharing one island, and seemingly having harmonious relations with the younger orangs in particular. There are red-eared terrapins in the moats around the islands, and while I didn't see any I did smell them!

 

Elsewhere there are five-star enclosures for Sulawesi crested macaques and maned wolves who are probably only actually seen by a tiny number of visitors. By and large the rest of the animal species are smaller types, and as you would expect the emphasis is on rarer species, with multiple displays of some of them. For instance, there are at least six displays of Alaotran gentle lemurs (one of which is really first-rate – previous visitors will know which one I am referring to!), and pied tamarins and black lion tamarins turn up in several locations, with some groups free-ranging.

 

Space does not permit a detailed look at the rest of the collection, but there are many smaller enclosures for marmosets, tamarins and various bird species, and several exhibits for Livingstone's and Rodrigues fruit bats. A new enclosure is under construction for the fruit bats, which eventually will be a doughnut-shaped polythene tunnel allowing the bats to fly continuously. There is also a reptile house, beginning to show its age but still good, and other special features such as the three exhibits for aye-ayes, which they share with Madagascan jumping rats (Hypogeomys antimena).

 

One of the zoo's big bonuses is the abundance of spring water. It allows for an attractive central watercourse, on which various waterfowl and two breeding colonies of flamingo (Chilean and greater) live. There are also smaller pools and ponds, including one devoted to encouraging the island's quite rich native fauna. Birds were even nesting in the hide provided for visitors to look at the various songbirds feeding within feet of them!

 

The zoo's guidebook is several years old and could do with updating, but gives good information on the operations of the Trust. It gives an overview of the various taxa on show, but little biological or natural history information on the individual species. As for educational signage around the zoo, the standard varies from poor to excellent. Quite a few labels simply list species, range and status. Where space allows (with e.g. gorillas and orangs) there are numerous excellent display boards and press cuttings.

 

How does the zoo rate on welfare grounds? Mostly excellent, with a large variety of innovative enrichment and feeding techniques. And if I could change one thing which I don't think works all that well, what would it be? I'd remove the clusters of smaller marmoset and tamarin enclosures, move most of them off-show as there are many `repeats', and construct new ones for a representative number of species, using the vacated land as a paddock area to display some small- to medium-sized endangered hoofstock for variety, as there are no ungulates in the zoo at the moment. But that's just my thought, and it doesn't detract from the fact that this is a world-class zoo.

 

For those planning a trip, Jersey is served from airports all around Britain, as well as having some continental connections. A two- to three-day visit would suffice. The zoo is well serviced by buses from the main town of St Helier. There are a couple of farm attractions on the island, a garden centre with a small standard parrot collection (Moluccan cockatoos the highlight), but the vivarium which once operated in Fort Regent is now closed. Outside July and August it is possible to get bed and breakfast in a three-star hotel for £25.

 

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

 

The zoo is now home to a red-crowned crane chick bred by artificial insemination. The bird, which hatched on 9 May 2003, is one of less than 70 of this highly endangered Chinese species in the U.S. captive population. Less than 2,000 of these rare birds remain in the wild.

 

When the zoo received its pair of four-year-old cranes from China in 1994, it seemed that a chick was imminent. Both birds were of breeding age, and they were one of the most genetically valuable pairs in the United States. However, though by this year the female had laid 24 eggs since 1996, none was fertile.

 

`We tested the male's sperm, which was viable,' says Curator of Birds Brad Hazelton. `And usually, it can be assumed that if the female bird is producing eggs, then her reproductive tract is not the problem. These two things led us to believe that the reason for the infertile eggs was simply a mechanical problem that could be solved by AI.'

 

By stripping semen from the male crane, zoo staff were able to artificially inseminate the female. After three weeks of the AI process, the female laid two eggs in early April, one of which was fertile.

 

`We didn't want to count our crane before it hatched, but we were thrilled to learn that we had a fertile egg,' says Hazelton. `When the chick hatched, we were ecstatic. Our intervention worked.'

 

The chick is currently on exhibit with its parents; while most of its care is left to the cranes, zoo staff assist with feeding twice a day.

 

Abridged from a Fort Worth Zoo press release, 15 May 2003

 

Loro Parque, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

 

The trend towards increased numbers of offspring at Loro Parque continues, and in the first half of 2003 a total of 809 chicks were ringed.

 

For several years, the purple-naped lories (Lorius domicellus) who were held in pairs have not been successful in their breeding attempts. Therefore, last autumn, the pairs – which are both over 15 years old – were flocked in a large aviary that was provided with four nest holes. All of a sudden, we were able to observe increased activity in the birds, and, this year, a pair laid two eggs one of which was fertile and hatched. This chick is being raised at the hand-rearing station. Considering that this lory species has gradually become a very rare one both in the wild and in captivity, this represents an important reproductive success.

 

In one of our 20-m long and 10-m high flight aviaries we have started a new experiment. In March we flocked six pairs of species which had not successfully bred in our breeding centre, namely two pairs of Cornelia's eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus cornelia), two pairs of yellow-and-green lorikeets (Trichoglossus flavoviridis), a pair of Josephine's lorikeets (Charmosyna josefinae) and a pair of Buru racket-tailed parrots (Prioniturus mada), all selected according to their size and non-aggressive behaviour. During the first days, a volunteer was placed in front of the aviary to interfere if there was any aggression; at present [early June], however, everything is normal. The birds are extremely active and use the whole space available to them, flying around and moving into their nest boxes. The essence of this experiment lies in the fact that every egg laid in this aviary is more than we ever got from these individuals. Half of the females (the yellow-and-green lorikeets and both pairs of eclectus) are brooding clutches. In fact, the flocking of different species is a most interesting experiment in the range of possibilities to improve the housing conditions of our parrots.

 

In June, our new Philippine cockatoo (C. haematuropygia) pair laid their first clutch. Last year, we were able to obtain a female of this endangered species from an English breeder. In order to guarantee the best possible pair formation, she was transferred after quarantine into a large aviary which had connected to it three smaller cages each housing a male Philippine cockatoo. The female had several weeks in which to select a partner. After some time, she was observed spending more and more time in front of a specific male's cage, which was opened so that direct contact between the two could be established. Since then, the birds have manifested a good relationship, so that there is much hope that these individuals will soon turn into regular breeders.

 

Other species which have bred in May and June include Pesquet's parrot, Hispaniolan, red-tailed and red-browed amazons, plum-crowned and coral-billed pionus parrots, blue-headed macaws (now breeding in the second generation here), hyacinth macaw, and blue-eared and red-and-blue lories.

 

Abridged from the reports for May and June 2003 compiled by Matthias Reinschmidt, Curator, Loro Parque

 

Marwell Zoo, U.K.

 

Recycling is a `buzz' word these days, and Marwell has its own recycling system in the tropical house. I hate wasting things, so when it came to trimming up plants and the annual cut-back over the winter, I asked around as to which animals might eat certain things. So now our tapirs, kangaroos and Arabian oryx enjoy the gingery stems of Hedychium (ginger lily) species. The big leaves of Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant) are very popular with the monkeys and apes. The fruits of the Monstera are a tasty mixture of pineapple and banana flavours and require diligent work to eat, so they are ideal for the tamarins and marmosets (and other primates) to pick at. Chunks of cut sugar cane provide another popular snack. Banana leaves are appreciated by the pygmy hippos and tapirs, and bananas and pineapples, in season, find their way into various food bowls.

 

What else? Well, the ants have an occasional snack of this and that; the butterflies get the pollen from the Monstera flowers, the red pandas enjoy the bamboo trimmings, and the stick insects in the education centre are thriving on snippets of eucalyptus. And then there are the cut trunks of the palm trees, which are now adorning the lovebird enclosures – looking good, but also providing perches and fibrous nesting material. Even the bark chips which are cleared and re-laid on the paths once a year are used to mulch the flower borders around the park.

 

Abridged from Sue Bircher, Tropical Plant Supervisor, in Marwell Zoo News No. 115 (Summer 2003)

 

Melbourne Zoo, Victoria, Australia

 

In January 2003 the zoo's invertebrate department sent garden orbweaver spiders (Eriophora transmarinus) into low earth orbit on the space shuttle Columbia. As everyone is well aware, the mission ended tragically for all concerned, but we were able to get some useful information from the exercise. The proof that spiders can build webs in zero gravity will have long-term applications for chemical-free pest control on crops grown on the international space station or when humans finally set up a station on Mars. The astronauts collected samples of the webs built in space for later analysis on earth, but unfortunately these never made it back. This is the first time zoo-bred animals have entered space and the first time NASA has worked closely with any zoo in the world. NASA has offered to support all concerned should we ever want to attempt the experiment again.

 

During February 2003 we collected two pairs of Lord Howe Island stick insects (Dryococelus australis) from Ball's Pyramid, 23 km from Lord Howe Island in the South Pacific. This species had been presumed extinct since rats were accidentally introduced to Lord Howe Island 80 years ago, but in 2001 a tiny population was discovered living on several bushes on Ball's Pyramid. There is almost no vegetation on the Pyramid, which is the world's tallest sea stack, sticking 500 m straight up out of the ocean. With a known population of 17 individuals, this is currently considered the rarest invertebrate species in the world. After collection, one pair were sent to Insektus in Sydney, and the other are living in a glasshouse at Melbourne Zoo. Because they are nocturnal and we have absolutely no life history information, we have been making observations overnight of their remarkable behaviour and biology; as they are nocturnal and react strongly to white light, red light is used to view them. The eventual aim is to breed them up to numbers from which they could be returned to Lord Howe Island once the rats have been eradicated.

 

Patrick Honan in Thylacinus Vol. 27, No. 2

 

Miami Metrozoo, Florida, U.S.A.

 

Ten years after the zoo's Wings of Asia aviary was wrecked by Hurricane Andrew, the aviary is back and with a whole new story to tell. The `American Banker's Family Aviary, the Wings of Asia', officially opened on 3 May 2003.

 

Covering over 54,000 square feet [5,000 m2], this is the largest open-air Asian aviary in the Western Hemisphere. Four hundred exotic, rare and endangered Asian birds representing more than 70 species are found in Wings of Asia. The original aviary, opened in 1984, contained some 300 birds, many of which were killed or blown away by the storm. Approximately 100 of the birds from the original aviary were never found. The current bird collection includes cranes, rails, mynahs, parrots, pheasants, thrushes, fruit-doves, barbets and woodpeckers. They range in size from a ten-gram Japanese white-eye to a seven-kg sarus crane. Among the exhibit's more notable birds are black-browed barbets, sultan tits, Javan cochoas, and blue-masked leafbirds. Many of these species are rare in zoos and some can only be seen at Miami Metrozoo.

 

The expanded aviary's tent-like design has more than 90,000 square feet [8,350 m2] of stainless steel mesh held aloft by a series of 43 metal pylons. The supports are secured with 36-inch [900 mm] anchors sunk 20 feet [6 m] underground. The new aviary was designed to survive a Category II hurricane, or winds from 96 to 110 mph. Andrew was considered a Category IV or V hurricane with winds from 131 to 155 mph.

 

Along with its new construction, the Wings of Asia also opened with a new educational twist – the story is that today's birds are living dinosaurs. Recent fossil evidence of feathered dinosaur specimens from China and Mongolia provided scientists with additional information to confirm the theory that modern birds descended from dinosaurs. Other evidence includes the half-moon-shaped wrist bone (semi-lunate carpal) found in a group of theropod dinosaurs called Maniraptora. Scientists still don't know why Maniraptora have this specialized wrist bone, but for modern birds it is essential for flight.

 

Throughout the aviary entry plaza, shaded pavilions weave the story of evolution. A Field Research Camp provides visitors the opportunity to view and touch realistic casts of dinosaur fossils and bird skeletons, to view a film showing the link between dinosaurs and birds, and to make up their own stories with bird puppets. Children of all ages can search for the skeleton of a 40-foot-long [12 m] carnivorous dinosaur in a mock fossil excavation pit. The hard, caked-mud plaza – really Shotcrete, a fiber-reinforced concrete product – has trapped the footprints of dinosaurs and plant leaves.

 

`Our goal is for visitors to gain a better appreciation for birds, their diversity and their incredibly ancient origins,' says Elizabeth Koncza, Deputy Director of the Zoological Society of Florida and head of Metrozoo's Education Department. `Our hope is that young minds will begin to ask critical questions and to seek answers. If a visitor leaves the exhibit puzzled and heads straight to the library, our goal to inspire our visitors with a hunger for science and a love of nature will have been achieved.'

 

An Asian temple offers hands-on interactive learning experiences about the characteristics of modern birds. The temple features underwater viewing, picturesque waterfalls and a gift shop. Both birds in free flight and swimming ducks and fish may be observed in comfort from inside the air-conditioned building, or from a ledge behind two waterfalls. Five waterfalls flow into a 55,000-gallon [200,000-liter] aquarium and marsh that can best be seen from a viewing area within the temple.

 

Miami Metrozoo has always had an active avian conservation program. The former aviary produced nine first captive hatchings and received seven awards from the American Federation of Aviculture for captive breeding of species facing declining habitats. The new aviary will continue to participate in wildlife conservation breeding initiatives, including the AZA's Species Survival Plans. `We are designing a habitat that will provide an exciting visitor experience and at the same time provide the birds a comfortable home suitable for breeding and conservation programs,' says Jeff Sailer, Metrozoo's Curator of Birds.

 

Animal Keepers' Forum Vol. 30, No. 6 (June 2003)

 

National Zoo, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

 

On the Fourth of July, the zoo celebrated more than the 227th anniversary of the nation's independence. For on that day we hosted an event celebrating the opening of a new bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) exhibit – the Bald Eagle Refuge – and the arrival of two eagles from a rehabilitation center in Tennessee. The event is also one of several celebrations planned throughout the year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The system has played an invaluable role in the restoration of the bald eagle, providing vital nesting and wintering habitat. Bald eagles can currently be found at 390 refuges from Florida to Alaska.

 

In addition to the eagles, which are an impressive sight with a wingspan of up to eight feet [2.4 m], the exhibit will feature an interactive video kiosk highlighting conservation success stories, an area for interpretive talks and animal demonstrations, and a special blind through which visitors can view the birds. The 2,430-square-foot [225 m2] exhibit will also include an interactive computer kiosk recognizing prominent figures of the conservation movement such as Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and former president Theodore Roosevelt. The refuge will allow visitors to view the eagles in a setting similar to the birds' wild habitat. It will include a heated natural shelter and perch, naturalistic rock formations and waterfalls, a place for the eagles to nest, and a fish-filled pond. The water in the pond will flow downhill to a wetlands area. The exhibit will be enclosed with `Invisinet', a fine stainless-steel netting that blends into the surroundings and affords visitors a clear, unobstructed view.

 

Once threatened with extinction, the American bald eagle has made a dramatic comeback thanks to the banning of the pesticide DDT and the recovery efforts of the USFWS, many other state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and public and private groups. In 1995, after 22 years on the endangered species list, the eagle's status was downgraded from endangered to threatened – quite an accomplishment considering the bird's population in the continental U.S. had dwindled from 100,000 nesting individuals in the late 1700s to only 417 pairs in 1963. There are now more than 6,000 pairs nesting in the United States. More than 200 years after the selection of this magnificent raptor as the national symbol, the recovery of the bald eagle from near-extinction stands as a crowning achievement of this country's conservation efforts.

 

Matt O'Lear in Wildlife Adventures (June/July 2003)

 

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A.

 

Two clouded leopard cubs were born in early April, the first at the zoo. The mother, Josie, and her cubs appear to be in good health, and the birth is being doubly celebrated as Josie is one of the most genetically valuable clouded leopards in North America. The regional population is managed under an SSP: since January 2002, only 13 cubs have been born in accredited North American zoos. All have been hand-raised, and ten have survived. After consulting with zoo colleagues, we decided to hand-rear the new cubs to increase their chance of survival – Josie injured a third cub, the first born in this litter, who subsequently died as a result of the injuries. Josie's behavior is not uncommon for first-time mothers, and hand-rearing also tends to help the leopards become more relaxed in zoo environments and increases the likelihood of being able to establish compatible breeding pairs. Josie and her mate Raja are currently off exhibit, but the zoo plans to feature them in the new Asia Forest Sanctuary scheduled to open in summer 2004.

 

Communiqué (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), June 2003

 

San Diego Zoo, California, U.S.A.

 

Expectations were high when male giant panda Gao Gao arrived in San Diego in mid-January. Although his reproductive history indicated no breeding experience, staff from the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) working at the Wolong Center in China had confirmed that he was attracted to estrous females – a huge improvement over his predecessor, Shi Shi (who has now returned to China). Even so, the most optimistic among staff had to admit that inexperienced pandas often need a few seasons to learn proper courtship and mating techniques, and that Bai Yun herself had not mated in all her years of pairing with Shi Shi. As with any new pairing, no one was taking bets on the outcome.

 

Building on our breakthrough knowledge in getting recalcitrant cheetahs to reproduce, we worked out an arrangement that provided each panda with a `home turf', so to speak, yet would allow plenty of olfactory familiarization with the party next door. A `howdy door' of wire mesh enabled Bai Yun and Gao Gao to meet nose-to-nose if they chose, giving staff an indication of the chemistry between them. Bai Yun was at first exceedingly wary of this new panda in her area, even though in passage through a common tunnel they had heard and smelled each other from time to time. But as she became driven by her surging hormones, nose-to-nose contact gave way to nose-to-rear contact, and all the signs of a good match were evident.

 

Tenseness among staff was palpable on the morning of 20 March 2003, when we decided it was time to raise the barrier that separated Gao Gao and Bai Yun. For a while, the interaction was friendly, but the hostility that is normal when strange pandas meet soon erupted and the two behaved like confirmed bachelor and bachelorette pandas. The same pattern was replicated on 21 March. But from the hormone profile and the reading of vaginal cells, we thought we might be pairing a little early in Bai Yun's cycle. Sure enough, on 22 March sexual interest triumphed over aggressive tendencies. Despite seemingly amateurish fumbling, we soon witnessed an historic first – natural mating – not once but twice within the early-morning session. Because of Bai Yun's training and her advanced state of receptivity, we were able to confirm sperm in her reproductive tract with a swab. After a rest, mating ensued once more in an afternoon pairing.

 

A surprise awaited us on the morning of 23 March, when Gao Gao would have nothing more to do with Bai Yun, despite her eager solicitations. It was clear that she was still at peak estrus, and expanding the window of opportunity for fertilization to occur argued for further infusion of sperm. At this time the second author opined that artificial insemination without anesthesia might be possible. After a short conference, cryopreserved sperm from Shi Shi was thawed and, to everyone's delight, Bai Yun tolerated insertion of a catheter for sperm transfer to take place. Artificial insemination was repeated on the morning of 24 March.

 

This event portrayed the best of all possible worlds in our business, the complementary interaction of good science and experienced management. Expert judgement was exercised in pairing two relative strangers: not too early, risking severe injury from aggression, and not too late, missing the small, annual window of opportunity for fertilization. The team had to decide when to let aggressive interaction go on as part of a necessary process, or when events had the potential to get out of hand.

 

Data from the CRES laboratories supported the behavioral indicators in pinpointing the time of ovulation as precisely as possible. Expertise in thawing and preparing sperm from previous collections resulted in successive inseminations of half a million motile sperm on each of the two days. Keepers' skill in training Bai Yun to tolerate a range of procedures led to an historic first: artificial insemination without chemical restraint.

 

If pregnant, Bai Yun will probably give birth at the end of the summer. Paternity tests will then determine the cub's father. Such a determination would give researchers a much clearer understanding of a female panda's ovulation period. Bai Yun had been artificially inseminated four times previously, each time with Shi Shi as the donor, and only once was there a positive result with the birth of Hua Mei in August 1999. If twins are born, it is even possible that both Shi Shi and Gao Gao could be the fathers. However, it is difficult to determine a panda's pregnancy until shortly before delivery, so nothing will be certain for several months.

 

Adapted from Donald G. Lindburg, Barbara S. Durrant and Carmi Penny in CRES Report (Summer 2003), with additional material from Michael McKeever in Zoonooz Vol. 76, No. 6 (June 2003)

 

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Tharwa, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

 

The long, hot summer culminated in a firestorm of unbelievable destruction which engulfed the reserve (along with huge areas of national parks in the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria) and over 400 homes in and around Canberra on 18 January 2003. Tidbinbilla staff were involved in fighting the fires which started as a result of lightning strikes from around 8 January through to after the fire storm hit Canberra almost two weeks later. This often involved overnight shifts on the fire ground and working shifts of up to 30 hours at a time, whilst still trying to maintain day-to-day operations within the reserve. Despite the best efforts of all those involved, the conditions on the 18th were such that there was nothing that anyone could humanly do to avert the destruction which was about to befall us. The fire storm which ripped through the reserve resulted in the loss of around 80% of the captive wildlife, and approximately 90–95% of the free-range wildlife in this 5,500-ha area.

 

Since the fires I have been challenged at work with the task of listing every item lost – how many of you could list every item within your veterinary facility, food preparation facility, education area and all of your displays, whether completely or partially destroyed, and then put a replacement value on every individual item? In addition to all of the `physical assets', I have had to list all of the stock lost, and put a `replacement value' on every animal. Anyone who can help me with a current price of a northern corroboree frog, regent honeyeater (which we successfully bred in December 2002), legless lizard, earless dragon, freckled duck, brush-tailed rock wallaby or Australian bustard would be very welcome at present!

 

In addition to the paperwork which a fire seems to generate, we have also been flat out ensuring that surviving stock is cared for as well as possible, with some animals being generously housed by the National Zoo and Aquarium. The influx of birds of prey and botulism outbreaks within the wetlands area have not simplified this process. Since the initial consolidation after the fires, we have also been busy arranging for the construction of temporary food preparation facilities, coolroom and freezer, as well as of additional cross-fostering pens as part of our prior commitment to the Victorian brush-tailed rock wallaby programme, and the connection of power and water (which was lost when our animal quarantine and veterinary facility burnt down), and other works associated with the receipt of our northern corroboree frog breeding facility (which again was committed to before the fires). In addition, we have been busy prioritising the reconstruction of the approximately 120 ha of wildlife enclosures, and other facilities throughout the reserve.

 

My heartfelt thanks go to all the individuals and institutions who offered their personal and professional support in the aftermath of the fires. I was completely overwhelmed by the support I received, both from within the Australasian region and from friends and colleagues in the international zoo community.

 

Abridged from Geoff Underwood, Senior Wildlife Officer, in Thylacinus Vol. 27, No. 2

 

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

 

The zoo is breeding various species in its `Wild Birds of Japan' exhibit. In 2001 and 2002, the Siberian meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides) and the skylark were successfully bred (one chick each). Chicks of the Indian tree pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) and the narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) also hatched, but all died several days after hatching. The long-tailed rose finch, the red-flanked bluetail, and the great tit all built nests, so that it is possible they will breed, given the right conditions. Since there are many species being kept in the same cage, there is danger that some eggs will be broken, so using incubators is a valid option. For domesticated species like the Bengalese finch, using foster mothers is also being planned.

 

The following cautions need to be taken into consideration:

(1) Unplanned pairing is dangerous. If an incompatible pair is put together, they may attack and even kill each other. Mature observation is necessary. Males and females should be separated by wire mesh, and the birds should have the opportunity to choose a mate.

(2) Suitable nesting sites should be provided, and the birds should have their choice of nesting materials.

(3) Prospective parent birds should be fed highly nutritious food. For chicks, newly moulted mealworms and crickets should be provided from in-house breeding colonies.

 

English summary of article in Japanese by K. Yamaguchi, A. Nakazawa, H. Namaisawa, Y. Sagawa and K. Otsuka, published in Animals and Zoos Vol. 55, No. 5 (May 2003)

 

Wadi Al Safa Wildlife Centre, Dubai

 

Wadi Al Safa has sent three (1.2) captive-bred pharaoh eagle owls (Bubo ascalaphus) to the World Owl Trust, Muncaster Castle, U.K. The Centre has been set up under the guidance of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry.

 

`All pharaoh eagle owls presently held in the U.K. originate from a single pair which bred at London Zoo in 1972,' says Tony Warburton, director of the Trust, who chairs the Owl TAG for the Federation of British Zoos. `Not surprisingly, by 1991 this population had become hopelessly inbred and degenerate, with the result that none have been bred in recent times. With such a small founder base and an increasingly ageing population, it had become obvious that any attempt to successfully manage a population which could be used for possible restocking of the wild was doomed to failure.'

 

`The Centre maintains a breeding group of four pairs,' says Humaid Obaid Al Muhari, director of Wadi Al Safa. `We get a number of birds throughout the year brought in by people who find them sick and injured in the desert. We treat all the birds brought to us, and those which we can successfully rehabilitate we release again. The birds which we do not release have formed our breeding group, and it was young from these birds that were donated. Any future young from these animals will be hacked back into the wild when old enough.'

 

An immediate priority for the World Owl Trust is to carry out DNA studies in order to ascertain the exact taxonomic status of the new birds, as this species has a large range across North Africa and the Middle East, and its relationships – and possible natural hybridisation – with other Bubo species is still in dispute.

 

News in brief

 

Nine Aldabra tortoises (Geochelone gigantea) hatched at Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma, U.S.A., in late March, with more hatchings anticipated. Tulsa is one of three zoos in the U.S. to successfully breed this species, and possibly the only zoo to do so repeatedly. Cadabra, the zoo's female, laid two clutches approximately a month apart, with a total of 41 eggs. Eggs from the second clutch were beginning to hatch in early May, though staff anticipate that fewer than half may be fertile.

 

Communiqué (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), June 2003

 

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For the first time in San Diego Zoo history, two species of ape are sharing an exhibit. A family group of three siamangs were introduced to their new habitat in late March and early April. The brand-new 8,400-square-foot [780 m2] enclosure entitled Absolutely Apes will be shared between the siamangs and the zoo's troupe of seven orang-utans, who were also given ample time to get acquainted with their new home in the weeks prior to the species introductions. On 14 April, zoo staff began introducing the siamangs to two or three orangs at a time. Over the next few weeks, all seven orangs were incorporated into the exhibit.

 

Communiqué (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), June 2003

 

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A number of reports in the press and on the internet have recently drawn attention to the plight of the zoo at Qalqiliya near Tel Aviv, the only sizeable zoo in the West Bank, which is currently hemmed in by fences, ditches and Israeli forces. Ironically, the zoo was founded in 1986 as a joint Israeli–Palestinian project. `It's lucky that I'm a taxidermist,' is the wry comment of Dr Sami Khader, the zoo's veterinarian. As animals die, some of them direct or indirect victims of the conflict, they cannot be replaced. Dr Khader divides his time between caring for the living and stuffing the dead – as the animals vanish from the cages, they reappear as exhibits in the zoo's museum.

 

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The British ornithologist and conservationist Guy Mountfort died on 23 April 2003 at the age of 97. Though an advertising executive by profession, Mountfort played a leading role – with Julian Huxley, Peter Scott and Max Nicholson – in the founding, in 1961, of the World Wildlife Fund (now WWF). He wrote many books on zoology and conservation, and was especially closely involved in efforts to save the tiger in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

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In early February 2003, eight (2.6) parma wallabies (Macropus parma) arrived in the U.S.A. from Kawau Island, New Zealand, and were dispersed to Brevard, Riverbanks, Roger Williams Park and San Diego Zoos. The move came in advance of an eradication campaign planned for this summer by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Parmas and other wallaby species were introduced to the island in the 19th century, and have had a severe impact on the native flora. Long thought to be extinct in its native range in New South Wales, Australia, the species was rediscovered there in the 1960s and is currently classified as of Lower Risk conservation status.

 

Adapted from Communiqué (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), April 2003

 

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RECENT ARTICLES

 

Achenbach, S.: Ethologische Untersuchungen zur Haltung von Sumatra-Tigern (Panthera tigris sumatrae) im neuen Tiger-Aussengehege des Tiergartens Heidelberg. (A behavioural study of tigers in Heidelberg Zoo's new enclosure.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 165–176. [German, with English summary. The new enclosure, completed in July 2002, is not only very close to nature, it also offers visitors many incentives for observing the animals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of size and design of the new enclosure on the 1.1 Sumatran tigers. The results show that the enclosure is completely accepted by the female: she usually spends the whole day there and has marked preferences for certain areas. The male, however, has been slow to accept the new environment, and still shows stereotypical behaviour.]

Auliya, M.: Entdeckung des Sunda-Gavials (Crocodylia: Tomistoma schlegeli) im Ujung-Kulon Nationalpark (Java, Indonesien). (Discovery of the false gharial in Ujung-Kulon National Park.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), pp. 3–6. [German, with English summary. The false gharial is one of 23 extant crocodilians, confined to Malaysia and Indonesia (Sumatra and Kalimantan). Populations in Peninsular Malaysia are fragmented and probably near extinction, and Thailand's populations have long since vanished. There were reports that it occurred in Ujung-Kulon National Park, Java, and the author confirmed this on a field trip in 2002, both by personal sighting and from reports by local residents.]

Beisenherz, W., and Römer, U.: Zwergbuntbarsche der Gattung Apistogramma. Vom Amazonas ins Aquarium. (Dwarf cichlids of the genus Apistogramma: from the Amazon to the aquarium.) Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo Vol. 46, No. 2 (2003), pp. 51–64. [German, with English summary. These cichlids were used as an example to demonstrate how biological research can be done with fishes which are widespread in aquaria. Partner preferences of female Apistogramma cacatuoides were tested in discrimination experiments. The females significantly preferred inconspicuously-coloured males from the wild instead of brightly-coloured males of aquarium stock. By doing this they behave quite differently from females of guppies (Poecilia reticulata), who prefer coloured males. If females of A. cacatuoides have to choose between males of their own species and males of a different species, they choose males of their own species with high statistical confidence over males of other Apistogramma species. Therefore experimental discrimination by females between males of different populations seems to be an adequate tool for systematic classification of Apistogramma – and possibly for fishes in general – as biological species. By hatching fry and young fishes at different temperature and pH, an environmental sex determination by temperature and pH could be revealed significantly in 33 Apistogramma species. At 26°C the sex ratio of the offspring was approximately balanced, at 23°C it was skewed towards females, and at 29°C to males. Sex is determined within a sensitive period of about 30 to 40 days after spawning. The equipment for these experiments is of such an unspecialised type that it can be employed by people who want to do research at home; so the methods described in the article may open a wide field of research activities.]

Bernauer, D.: Das Aussterben der Harlekinfrösche und der Versuch der Erhaltungszucht. (The die-off of stub-footed toads and attempts at captive breeding.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), p. 21. [German, with English summary. The genus Atelopus, consisting of about 80 species, seems to be very prone to the mysterious global extinction of amphibians. Since 1990, at least 70 amphibian species have disappeared; single populations die out within two or three years. A fungus infection called chytridiomycosis has been proven to be the cause. Symptoms are changes of skin characteristics as regards excretion, breathing and osmotic regulation. In captivity, affected Atelopus toads have been successfully cured. So, to ensure survival of the genus, breeding programmes need to be established. First successes were achieved at Detroit and Baltimore Zoos. Captive breeding is not as easy as it is with dendrobatid species, but more than 500 offspring of A. zeteki have been bred since 2002.]

Blaszkiewitz, B.: Asiatische Gebirgstiere – ein neuer Anlagenkomplex im Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde. (Asian mountain fauna – a new complex at Tierpark Berlin.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 139–146. [German, with very brief English summary. See IZN 50 (1), 64.]

Brandstätter, F.: Eine kurze Zoogeschichte der Stadt Dortmund. (A short zoo-history of the city of Dortmund.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 129–138. [German, with very brief English summary. Some privately-owned zoos did not last long. Today's Dortmund Zoo opened in 1953, and grew over the years from a small park housing local fauna into a collection of international importance.]

Cardillo, M.: Biological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable? Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 1 (2003), pp. 63–69. [It is becoming increasingly clear that species of smaller body size tend to be less vulnerable to contemporary extinction threats than larger species, but few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying this pattern. In this paper, data for the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna are used to ask whether higher reproductive output or smaller home ranges can explain the reduced extinction risk of smaller species. Extinct and endangered species do indeed have smaller litters and larger home ranges for their body size than expected under a null model. In multiple regressions, however, only litter size is a significant predictor of extinction risk once body size and phylogeny are controlled for. Larger litters contribute to fast population growth, and are probably part of the reason that smaller species are less extinction-prone. The effect of litter size varies between the mesic coastal regions and the arid interior of Australia, indicating that the environment a species inhabits mediates the effect of biology on extinction risk. These results suggest that predicting extinction risk from biological traits is likely to be a complex task which must consider explicitly interactions between biology and environment.]

Caro, T.M.: Umbrella species: critique and lessons from East Africa. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 171–181. [Umbrella species are `species with large area requirements, which if given sufficient protected habitat area, will bring many other species under protection'. Historically, they were employed to delineate specific reserve boundaries, but are now used in two senses: (1) as aids to identifying areas of species richness at a large geographic scale; (2) as a means of encompassing populations of co-occurring species at a local scale. In the second sense, there is a dilemma as to whether to maximize the number or viability of background populations; the umbrella population itself needs to be viable as well. Determining population viability is sufficiently onerous that it could damage the use of umbrella species as a conservation shortcut. The effectiveness of using the umbrella-species concept at a local scale was investigated in the real world by examining reserves in East Africa that were gazetted some 50 years ago using large mammals as umbrella species. Populations of these species are still numerous in most protected areas, although a few have declined. Populations of other, background species have in general been well protected inside reserves; for those populations that have declined, the causes are unlikely to have been averted if reserves had been set up using other conservation tools. Outside one reserve, Katavi National Park in Tanzania, background populations of edible ungulates and small carnivores are lower than inside the reserve, but small rodent and insectivore abundance is higher. While we cannot compare East African reserves to others not gazetted using umbrella species, the historical record in this region suggests that umbrella species have been an effective conservation shortcut, perhaps because most reserves were initially large and could encompass substantial populations of background species. It is therefore premature to discard the local-scale umbrella-species concept despite its conceptual difficulties.]

Crissey, S.D., Silva, J.C.S., Meehan, T., Slifka, K.A., Bowen, P.E., Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis, M., Holick, M.F., Chen, T.C., Mathieu, J., and Meerdink, G.: Nutritional status of free-ranging Mexican howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata mexicana) in Veracruz, Mexico: serum chemistry; lipoprotein profile; vitamins D, A, and E; carotenoids; and minerals. Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 239–251.

Daffner-Ellinger, D., and Ellinger, W.: Urlaub einmal anders. (A different sort of holiday.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), pp. 15–17. [German, with English summary. The authors report a journey through Vietnam with visits to several conservation sites, e.g. Cat Ba National Park, the Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC) and Nam Cat Tien National Park. At Cat Ba Island, German biologist Rosi Stenke, together with two local biologists, works to protect the last 54 individuals of the golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), a conservation project of the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP). At the EPRC there is an almost complete collection of primate taxa occurring in Vietnam. These animals are kept under excellent conditions and breeding successes are good. Nearby at Van Long is a conservation project, supervised by the staff of the EPRC, for Delacour's langur (T. delacouri). At Nam Cat Tien they received news about the conservation status of Javan rhinoceros and Indochinese tiger from local guides.]

Deigert, F.A., Duncan, A.E., Frank, K.M., Lyda, R.O., and Kirkpatrick, J.F.: Immunocontraception of captive exotic species. III. Contraception and population management of fallow deer (Cervus dama). Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 261–268. [Immunocontraception has become an increasingly valuable tool in the population management of captive exotic ungulates. Although porcine zona pellucida vaccine (PZP) was used successfully in other cervids, a previous study with fallow deer suggested that the vaccine did not work in this species. In the current study, however, PZP treatment significantly reduced fawn production.]

Ganzhorn, J.U.: Ellects of introduced Rattus rattus on endemic small mammals in dry deciduous forest fragments of western Madagascar. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 147–157. [The author assessed the role of fragmentation and possible effects of introduced black rats on endemic rodents (Macrotarsomys bastardi and Eliurus spp.) and the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) for dry deciduous forests in Madagascar. Comparison of capture rates in different locations suggest that native rodents of this habitat are more sensitive towards forest disturbance than M. murinus, and that there is no indication of negative interactions between introduced rats and the native small mammal fauna.]

Gil-Burmann, C., and Beltrami, M.: Effect of solar eclipse on the behavior of a captive group of hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas). Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 299–303. [The effect of an eclipse on baboon behavior at Santiago Zoo, Chile, was a reduction in the rates of locomotion and threats, and an increase in the rates of inactivity and grooming, but not significantly so in all individuals. Behavioral changes were more marked in males than in females.]

Gill, P.: Sustainability in zoos. Ratel Vol. 30, No. 3 (2003), pp. 82–84.

Goodman, G.: The use of contraception in zoo animals – recent advances. Ratel Vol. 30, No. 3 (2003), pp. 85–87.

Hayward, J.: The Amboina Island king parrot – Part 1. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 37, No. 5 (2003), pp. 222–227. [Alisterus a. amboinensis; Carterton Breeding Aviaries, U.K.]

Hayward, J.: The Amboina Island king parrot – Part 2. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 37, No. 6 (2003), pp. 270–273.

Hötte, M.: Update zu den Schutzbemühungen für den Amur-Leoparden. (Amur leopard conservation update.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), p. 13. [German, with English summary. Camera-trap monitoring has recently started. Individuals are known to cross into China, and some may have settled there permanently.]

Hummel, J., Hörhager, A., and Nawrocki, D.: Wählerische Laubfresser – angemessene Ernährung von Giraffen und Okapis im Zoo. (Choosy leaf-eaters – suitable zoo diets for giraffes and okapis.) Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo Vol. 46, No. 2 (2003), pp. 67–80. [German, with English summary. The article gives a short overview of adaptations of leaf eaters, summarises giraffe and okapi feeding ecology and presents important points for planning diets for these species. In recent years Cologne Zoo has tried to adapt the animals' feeding as closely as possible to their ethological and physiological requirements. By offering larger amounts of browse and by making access to fruits, vegetables and concentrate feed more demanding, the time they spend feeding has been increased and more complex, functional feeding behaviour has been stimulated. These steps are aimed at a reduction of oral aberrations such as excessive or inappropriate licking. Moreover, some of the fruit and oats was replaced by unmolassed sugar beet pulp to achieve a physiologically favourable diet without reducing the energy content.]

Janse, M.: Considerations on the diet composition and feeding rate of dermersal [sic, and throughout the article; presumably `demersal', i.e. `bottom-dwelling', is intended – Ed.] sharks in 15 European public aquaria. Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 203–226. [The most common demersal shark species kept in the participating aquaria are Carcharhinus plumbeus, Carcharias taurus and C. melanopterus. Diet in all aquaria consisted of both lean and fatty fish, and sometimes squid or crustaceans; the feeding rate varied widely. The feeding frequency for C. plumbeus varied between 1 and 7 times a week, with an average of 3.3 times a week. Supplementation of vitamins is common practice in 80% of the aquaria, though a wide variety of quantity and quality was observed. Ten aquaria use iodine as a dietary supplement.]

Joiner, O.: Captive breeding of curassows. WPA News No. 70 (2002/3), pp. 2–3. [A private collection in Scotland holds eight species of curassow. In the 2002 breeding season, nocturnal (Nothocrax urumutum), yellow-knobbed (Crax daubentoni) and the southern helmeted (Pauxi unicornis) curassows all bred successfully. Black (Crax alector) and great (C. rubra) curassows both produced fertile eggs, but unfortunately all were lost due to late death in shell. Northern helmeted (Pauxi pauxi) and razor-billed (Mitu tuberosa) curassows both laid, but it turned out that all the specimens held were female. An eighth species, the bare-faced (C. fasciolata), were too young to breed. The author outlines husbandry and breeding methods in the collection.]

Karanth, K.U., Nichols, J.D., Seidensticker, J., Dinerstein, E., Smith, J.L.D., McDougal, C., Johnsingh, A.J.T., Chundawat, R.S., and Thapar, V.: Science deficiency in conservation practice: the monitoring of tiger populations in India. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 141–146. [Conservation practices are supposed to get refined by advancing scientific knowledge. The authors study this phenomenon in the context of monitoring tiger populations in India, by evaluating the `pugmark census method' employed by wildlife managers for three decades, testing its efficacy by using scientific data on tigers and their own field observations. They identify three critical goals for monitoring tiger populations, in order of increasing sophistication – (1) distribution mapping, (2) tracking relative abundance, and (3) estimation of absolute abundance – and demonstrate that the present census-based paradigm does not work because it ignores the first two simpler goals, and targets – but fails to achieve – the most difficult third goal. They point out the utility and ready availability of alternative monitoring paradigms that deal with the central problems of spatial sampling and observability, and propose an alternative sampling-based approach that can be tailored to meet practical needs of tiger monitoring at different levels of refinement.]

Lacy, K.E., and Martins, E.P.: The effect of anthropogenic habitat usage on the social behaviour of a vulnerable species, Cyclura nubila. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 1 (2003), pp. 3–9. [The authors consider the consequences of animal–human habitat usage overlap on the behaviour patterns and social structure of the threatened Cuban rock iguana in six field sites, three with fairly high and three with relatively low human habitat usage. Individuals in high-usage sites were more closely assembled, with more males and females sharing a smaller amount of space. These animals exhibited even more aggressive behaviour and social interactions than expected when taking into account the larger number of possible interactants. High-usage sites also had more male–male interactions and fewer males interacting with females. The authors suggest that social and mating system changes have occurred, and discuss the ramifications of these recent changes in behavioural repertoires on the long-term survival of the species.]

Langman, V.A., Rowe, M., Forthman, D., Langman, N., Black, J., and Walker, T.: Quantifying shade using a standard environment. Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 253–260. [The purpose of this study was to quantify the thermal microclimate provided by a shade structure in the African elephant enclosure at Zoo Atlanta. The hypothesis was that the interior of a weather instrument shelter (a `Stevenson screen') would provide the maximum environmental shielding and the coolest possible ambient conditions without artificial heating or cooling. The ambient conditions inside the Stevenson screen were compared with the ambient conditions in the shaded and non-shaded sections of the exhibit to quantify the extremes possible under the environmental conditions. The shade structure in the elephant enclosure reduced the radiant heat load by only 37% of the total possible reduction represented by the interior of the Stevenson screen – shortwave radiant heat was reduced by 43%, but longwave radiant heat by only 3%. Shade structures alone may not provide adequate protection from radiant heat for captive species. A cool microclimate in an artificial enclosure should be designed to reduce all sources of radiant heat.]

Laundré, J., and Clark, T.W.: Managing puma hunting in the western United States: through a metapopulation approach. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 159–170. [The authors propose a management plan to achieve long-term viability of hunted puma (Puma concolor) populations based on the metapopulation concept that designates `source areas' (closed to hunting) and `sink areas' (open to hunting), and use 11 years of data from Idaho and Utah to demonstrate how the proposed management plan might be implemented.]

McMonagle, L.: New walk-through red ruffed lemur exhibit at Edinburgh Zoo. Ratel Vol. 30, No. 3 (2003), pp. 78–81.

Mathies, T., and Miller, L.A.: Cool temperatures elicit reproduction in a biologically invasive predator, the brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis). Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 227–238. [It was found that males and females maintained at 24°C followed by a 60-day cool period at 19°C exhibited substantial reproductive activity, and the females that produced clutches did so during a brief period after return to 24°C. In contrast, individuals maintained at 28°C followed by an identical 19°C cooling period exhibited relatively little reproductive activity, and no females produced eggs. Reproductive activity was virtually absent in all individuals in both groups seven months after the end of the cool period. Thus, a period of cool temperatures elicits reproductive activity in both sexes and the effect is transitory. Temperatures experienced during the cool period were much lower than the snakes would experience on Guam, and temperatures there are also relatively invariant. Thus, it is possible that only minor fluctuations in temperature are sufficient to elicit reproduction in the Guam population. Because the Guam form does well under, and responds reproductively to, unusually cold temperatures for a lowland tropical reptile, there is concern that it may be able to invade areas previously considered uninhabitable.]

Mooers, A.Ø., and Atkins, R.A.: Indonesia's threatened birds: over 500 million years of evolutionary heritage at risk. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 183–188.

Neumann-Denzau, G.: Kulanschutz in Turkmenistan. (Kulan conservation in Turkmenistan.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), p. 14. [German, with English summary. Since independence, hunting has reduced the kulan (Equus hemionus kulan) population by 90%. Since the year 2000, ZGAP has been working on conservation measures with local biologists and farmers, and kulan numbers have increased slightly (to around 1,000).]

Nogge, G.: Christian R. Schmidt 60 Jahre. (C.R. Schmidt's 60th birthday.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 187–190. [German, no English summary. Dr Schmidt is director of Frankfurt Zoo.]

O'Brien, T.G., Kinnaird, M.F., and Wibisono, H.T.: Crouching tigers, hidden prey: Sumatran tiger and prey populations in a tropical forest landscape. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 131–139. [The authors studied the abundance and distribution of tigers and nine prey species in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra. They demonstrate that the relative abundance of tigers and their prey, as measured by camera traps, is directly related to independently derived estimates of densities for these species. The tiger population in the park is estimated at 40–43 individuals. Results indicate that illegal hunting of prey and tigers, measured as a function of human density within 10 km of the park, is primarily responsible for observed patterns of abundance, and that habitat loss is an increasingly serious problem. Abundance of tigers, mouse deer, wild boar and sambar deer was more than four times higher in areas with low human population density, while densities of red muntjac and pigtail macaques were twice as high. Malayan tapir and argus pheasant, species infrequently hunted, had higher indices of relative abundance in areas with high human density. Edge effects associated with park boundaries were not a significant factor in abundance of tigers or prey once human density was considered. Tigers in the park, and probably in other protected areas throughout Sumatra, are in imminent danger of extinction unless trends in hunting and deforestation are reversed.]

O'Brien, T.G., Kinnaird, M.F., Nurcahyo, A., Prasetyaningrum, M., and Iqbal, M.: Fire, demography and the persistence of siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus: Hylobatidae) in a Sumatran rainforest. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 115–121. [The authors show a direct impact of El Niño related fires on the demography and persistence of the siamang. Groups affected were significantly smaller and experienced significantly lower infant and juvenile survival. Likelihood of infants surviving to subadults was higher by a factor of 2.8 for groups in undisturbed habitat. Burn groups had access to 48% fewer reproductive-size strangling fig trees in their territories, compared to non-burn groups. Dietary and foraging behaviour changes associated with habitat disturbance may result in lower productivity and higher mortality of young animals. Reproductive potential of burn groups is insufficient to offset low survival, and groups are unlikely to persist for more than two generations. Increasing frequency of El Niño events increases the likelihood that siamang and other long-lived species that rely on fruiting trees will experience multiple fires within one generation; the resulting reduction in seed dispersal services will slow recovery of burned forest.]

Randi, E., Davoli, F., Pierpaoli, M., Pertoldi, C., Madsen, A.B., and Loeschcke, V.: Genetic structure in otter (Lutra lutra) populations in Europe: implications for conservation. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 93–100. [During the 20th century otter populations in central and western Europe declined and became fragmented because of habitat alterations, chemical pollution and direct persecution. The authors describe spatial patterns of genetic diversity and subdivision in otters from eight populations in Europe. Genetic diversity was moderately high within populations, and significantly partitioned among locations. The Danish and, to a lesser extent, the Spanish populations were unique and distinct, whereas the other populations (in Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden and Latvia) were partially admixed. Inference of past demographic fluctuations suggested that otter populations probably declined several thousand years ago, with the exception of the Irish population for which no such decline could be detected. No genetic evidence for recent bottlenecks was found. On the basis of these results, the authors recommend that recovery plans should promote the expansion of existing natural populations through improvements of river and wetland habitats.]

Reed, D.H., O'Grady, J.J., Ballou, J.D., and Frankham, R.: The frequency and severity of catastrophic die-offs in vertebrates. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 2 (2003), pp. 109–114.

Riley, J.: Die Säugetiere der Sangihe-Talaud-Inseln –Auswirkungen von Jagd und Habitatverlust. (Mammals of the Sangihe and Talaud Islands – effects of hunting and habitat loss.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), pp. 7–10. [German, with English summary. These remote islands between Indonesia and the Philippines are home to 37 mammal species, of which 30 are indigenous and 22 are bats. The author discusses threats and conservation efforts.]

Rottmann, O., Neurohr, B., Gum, B., Kühn, R., Schröder, W., and Lampeter, W.: Beitrag zur Erhaltung des Wisents (Bison bonasus): Die Gefriertauglichkeit von Wisentsperma. (A contribution to the conservation of the European bison: viability of frozen sperm.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 158–164. [German, with English summary. Based on the authors' tests of frozen–thawed sperm, successful artificial insemination in European bison should be possible, at least as far as the bull's contribution is concerned.]

Salaman, P., Cortés, A., Florez, P., Luna, J.C., Nieto, O., Castaño, J.F., and Suaréz, G.: Aktivitäten und Ergebnisse des Gelbohrsittich-Schutzprojekts in Kolumbien. (Activities and results of the yellow-eared parrot conservation project in Colombia.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), p. 18. [German, with English summary. The species (Ognorhynchus icterotis) is severely threatened across its range in the high Andes. With protection, the Colombian population rose from 144 to 387 between 1999 and the present.]

Silveira, L.F., and Olmos, F.: Die Papageienfauna der küstennahen Waldfragmente Nordost-Brasiliens. (Parrots of the Atlantic Forest fragments in north-eastern Brazil.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), pp. 19–20. [German, with English summary. The authors suggest measures to protect the parrot species of this dwindling ecosystem. They point out that the taxonomic status of many subspecies needs to be revised; this is likely to increase the number of recognised species, with implications for conservation action.]

Somma, L.A.: Parental behavior in lepidosaurs and turtles: source addendum. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society Vol. 38, No. 4 (2003), pp. 65–76. [Parental behavior is widespread and well-known in crocodilians, but in lepidosaurs (lizards, snakes, tuataras and amphisbaenians) and chelonians has been regarded largely as absent, uncommon or, at most, unevenly distributed. The author presents additional sources to supplement his forthcoming book on the subject (Parental Behaviour in Lepidosaurian and Testudinian Reptiles: a Literature Survey, Krieger, Malabar, Florida).]

Valière, N., Fumagalli, L., Gielly, L., Miquel, C., Lequette, B., Poulle, M.-L., Weber, J.-M., Arlettaz, R., and Taberlet, P.: Long-distance wolf recolonization of France and Switzerland inferred from non-invasive genetic sampling over a period of 10 years. Animal Conservation Vol. 6, No. 1 (2003), pp. 83–92. [In the early 1900s, the wolf (Canis lupus) was extirpated from France and Switzerland. There is growing evidence that the species is presently recolonizing these countries in the western Alps. By sequencing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region of various samples mainly collected in the field (scats, hairs, regurgitates, blood or tissue), the authors (1) developed a non-invasive method enabling the unambiguous attribution of these samples to wolf, fox or dog, among others; (2) demonstrated that Italian, French and Swiss wolves share the same mtDNA haplotype, one that has never been found in any other wolf population world-wide. Combined together, field and genetic data corroborate the scenario of a natural expansion of wolves from the Italian source population. Furthermore, such a genetic approach is of conservation significance, since it has important consequences for management decisions. This report demonstrates that long-distance dispersers are common, supporting the hypothesis that individuals may often attempt to colonize far from their native pack, even in the absence of suitable corridors across habitats characterized by intense human activities.]

Velte, F., and Engelmann, W.-E.: Angaben zur Fortpflanzungsbiologie sowie zur Zucht des Braungebänderten Bambushais (Chiloscyllium punctatum) im Leipziger Zooaquarium. (Details of reproductive biology and breeding of the brown-banded bamboo shark at Leipzig Zoo aquarium.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 177–186. [German, with English summary. In spring 1999 Leipzig Zoo acquired 2.2 sharks from Opel-Zoo, Kronberg. There, the sharks had shown copulation behaviour at the age of five years. Further evidence of copulation – bite wounds on the females' pectoral fins – was noted in spring 2000. On 15 September the first shark hatched from an egg-case. With additional information from Frankfurt Zoo, further data on the species' reproductive biology could be evaluated. The length of the egg-cases is 10.5 cm on average, with a range of 9.6 to 12.6 cm, the width is from 4.2 to 5.5 cm (average 4.9 cm), and the thickness from 2.1 to 2.8 cm (average 2.4 cm). Total length at hatching is from 15 to 17.5 cm (average 16.2 cm). Hatching in the aquarium has taken place throughout the year, with the exception of November.]

Veltman, K.: De EAZA tijgercampagne: wij krijgen er allemaal mee te maken. (The EAZA Tiger Campaign: together we get something done.) De Harpij Vol. 22, No. 2 (2003), pp. 6–7. [Dutch, with English summary. The campaign was initiated across Europe in April 2003. One goal is to raise money to support anti-poaching programmes, habitat protection and education of local people about tigers. EAZA has set a target amount of 250,000 euros to be raised by all the EAZA zoos collectively. Distribution of funds collected will be managed by the foundation 21st Century Tiger, in cooperation with the Global Tiger Patrol and the Zoological Society of London. The educational goal of the EAZA Tiger Campaign is to raise the awareness of zoo visitors regarding the plight of the tiger. Educational graphics are presented and various educational and fund-raising activities will be held in the participating zoos. While a basic information package including information about tigers and ideas for fund-raising has been supplied to zoos, they are encouraged to use their creativity and distinct characters in developing their activities. The accent on which tigers to emphasize can also vary; e.g., as Safari Park Beekse Bergen holds Siberian tigers these will be featured in the park's activities, while Amsterdam Zoo will focus on Sumatran tigers.]

Volf, J., and Volf, P.: Der Mausartige Zwerghamster (Calomyscus bailwardi Thomas, 1905) und seine Zucht in Menschenobhut. (The mouse-like hamster and its breeding in captivity.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 73, No. 3 (2003), pp. 147–157. [German, with English summary. This species occupies a quite special position among the palaearctic dwarf hamsters as regards its taxonomy, reproductive biology and post-embryonic development. The authors have observed them in captivity for 12 years. Births took place in all seasons, but were most frequent in spring. Gestation was 30 ± 1 days. The number of young ranged from 1 to 5 (average 2.8); the sex ratio at birth was equal, and body weight of newborn females and males was on average the same. Post-embryonic development was relatively slow: birth weight doubled by Day 8, the eyes opened between Day 17 and Day 23, the minimum lactation period was four weeks, body growth finished as late as the fourth month of life with an eight- to ninefold increase over birth weight. When a laboratory mouse was used as foster mother, the young showed a higher weight increase. Sexual maturity was recorded in females at four months and in males at five months. The highest number of births from one female was 15 litters with a total of 41 young; all these births occurred during a 2.25-year period. Female sexual activity ceases probably at the end of the third year of life. The longevity of several individuals exceeded four years; the age of 9 years 3 months and 18 days recorded in one male is probably the record in the family Cricetidae.]

Walters, T.: Observations of the short-term behavioural response of a captive male tiger (Panthera tigris) to changes in feeding enrichment. Ratel Vol. 30, No. 2 (2003), pp. 29–47. [Chessington Zoo.]

Weisel, S.: Artenschutz durch Individuenschutz. (Species conservation by means of protecting individuals.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 19, No. 1 (2003), pp. 28–30. [German, with English summary. Cooperation between international organisations for conservation of species and local wildlife rescue centres is not ideal at present. But the centres' right to exist is undeniable and their contribution to conservation activities should be improved. Rescue centres which specialise in certain taxa, e.g. Profelidae, could contribute to projects of zoos and breeding centres by sharing their experiences. International trade in wild animals is controlled by CITES; but what about national wild animal trade? Surveys in Costa Rica have shown that wild animals are kept (mostly illegally) in 24% of households. In the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia), this percentage is almost doubled (47%). Due to poor keeping conditions, deaths, and thus sales, are at a high level. This shows that an intact environment does not guarantee intact animal populations. Education and ex situ conservation are important parts of all conservation projects and could be carried out by specialized wildlife rescue centres.]

White, B.C., Houser, L.A. , Fuller, J.A., Taylor, S., and Elliott, J.L.L.: Activity-based exhibition of five mammalian species: evaluation of behavioral changes. Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 269–285. [Activity-based management of captive animals involves the training and movement of animals among several exhibits and holding areas. The authors studied the effectiveness of this system in producing variation in behavior, controlling stereotypies, and eliciting natural behaviors in 12 animals (4 orang-utans, 2 siamangs, 2 Malayan tapirs, 2 babirusa and 2 tigers) at Louisville Zoo, Kentucky. For several animals, the persistence of behavioral changes was studied over a period of three years. They also examined the influence of the previous animal in the exhibit on the focal animal. Moving animals among the exhibits affected activity levels and/or space utilization in all animals in the activity-based management system. In cases for which three-year data were available, there was evidence of habituation to the novelty of changing exhibits. Stereotypies, usually in the form of pacing, were affected by exhibits, providing the opportunity to manipulate these behavior patterns by exhibit placement. Natural behaviors in the form of urine-spraying by the female tapir and a male tiger were affected by which animal had previously been in the exhibit. The results support the conclusion that exposure to varying exhibits produces variation in the behavior of the animals and elicits natural behaviors that would be unlikely to occur in a traditional single-species exhibit. Activity-based management provides unique opportunities for the behavioral enrichment of captive animals.]

Wisely, S.M., McDonald, D.B., and Buskirk, S.W.: Evaluation of the genetic management of the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Zoo Biology Vol. 22, No. 3 (2003), pp. 287–298. [The authors compared genetic diversity among captive populations managed for continued captive breeding or reintroduction, and among wild-born individuals from two reintroduced populations. Genetic diversity was similar in captive populations maintained for breeding and release, and it appears that the recovery program will achieve its goal of maintaining 80% of the genetic diversity of the founder population over 25 years. Wild-born individuals from reintroduced populations maintained genetic diversity and avoided close inbreeding. The model of random mating predicted only slightly lower levels of heterozygosity retention compared to the SSP strategy. The random mating strategy may be a viable alternative for managing large, stable, captive populations such as that of the black-footed ferret.]

 

Publishers of the periodicals listed:

Animal Conservation, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, U.K.

Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society, 2430 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60614, U.S.A.

De Harpij, Stichting De Harpij, Van Aerssenlaan 49, 3039 KE Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Parrot Society Magazine, Parrot Society, 108b Fenlake Road, Bedford MK42 0EU, U.K.

Ratel, Association of British Wild Animal Keepers, 110 Carrick Knowe Drive, Edinburgh EH12 7EL, U.K.

WPA News, World Pheasant Association, 7/9 Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge, Hants. SP6 1JF, 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.

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