International Zoo News Vol. 47/5 (No. 302) July/August 2000
IN MEMORIAM John Aspinall
|GUEST EDITORIAL||Richard J. Reynolds|
|Pre- and Post-Partum Behaviour of a Female Malayan Sun Bear at Wellington Zoo||John Pickard|
|La Vallée des Singes a New Primate Zoo in France||Jan Vermeer|
|Non-invasive Monitoring of Ovarian Function and Pregnancy in Pallas's Cats by Means of Faecal Steroids||Elena Y. Tkacheva, Olga B. Lifanova and Irina A. Alekseicheva|
|Letters to the Editor|
|International Zoo News|
John Aspinall, 19262000
Reflections on one of the zoo world's most eminent `silver-backs'
by Jeremy J.C. Mallinson
`The old order changeth, yielding place to new,' but it is difficult now to have to think of the gorilla kingdom, and the zoo world, without the passionate defender of wildlife and the charismatic presence of John Aspinall.
There has been so much published about John's most inspiring and colourful life that it is difficult to resist the temptation to plagiarise some of the worthy writings and observations of others. However, as I have been directly involved in the zoo and conservation world since the late 1950s, and have witnessed so many changes that have taken place over the last four decades or so, I shall attempt to record in this short appreciation, what I consider to be some of the achievements and subsequent influence that John has had on the global zoo community.
I first met John Aspinall at Howletts in the early 1970s, when I had the opportunity to introduce him to the well-respected primatologist, W.C. Osman Hill, who soon became a great admirer of the Zoo Park's many primate breeding successes. Events such as participating in what John referred to as one of his `posses of wildlifers', at a rally he organised at the Albert Hall in 1972; chairing the first meeting of all holders of lowland gorillas in the United Kingdom and Ireland, in the spacious surroundings of his London gaming club in 1976; presenting papers at the same time as him at international primate meetings at both Hanover and San Diego Zoos; as well as speaking to an `All Party Select Committee' at the House of Lords with him on the conservation role of both a private and public zoo: all provided me with an invaluable insight into the inspiration, motivation and charismatic personality of a truly remarkable man.
Being aware of the conservation objectives of Howletts almost since its inception, and having been personally involved with Gerald Durrell, my mentor, for a period of over 35 years, while reflecting on their respective lives it has been fascinating to note the degree of resemblance between two such outstanding and unorthodox zoo and conservation visionaries.
John Aspinall and Gerry Durrell were born within a year of each other in India in the mid-1920s. As far as the animal kingdom is concerned, they also shared many other significant landmarks. In their formative years they both had exotic animals as their household pets. In the late 1950s, they both established their own particular type of zoo, with similar objectives of breeding self-sustaining populations of threatened species. Also, having been inspired in the late 1940s by the magnificence and nobility of London Zoo's lowland gorilla, Guy, by the end of the 1950s they had both personally purchased lowland gorillas to be their house guests, Shamba and Gugis at Howletts and N'Pongo at Jersey, the first members and in the cases of Shamba and N'Pongo the founders of the successful colonies of gorillas at both of these breeding centres.
In order to put into some type of perspective how the `Zoo Establishment' regarded such inspirational interlopers, it is interesting to note in Brian Masters' excellent biography, The Passion of John Aspinall (1988), how Sir Solly Zuckerman (later Lord Zuckerman), the Secretary of the Zoological Society of London, had the feeling that Aspinall should not be taken seriously or be encouraged, and how he thought of him as a dilettante. Similarly, Gerald Durrell was never in any doubt that Zuckerman viewed him in almost exactly the same way. However, as Brian Masters related, the unscientific, intuitive methods adopted by Aspinall may have been more fruitful than the orthodox approach. As zoo history now well records, this has very much proved to be the case.
Soon after Gerald Durrell's death in January 1995 at the age of 70, John wrote one of his usual most thoughtful letters to Lee Durrell, saying:
`Though we had a great deal in common, both being born in India of colonial families, my father was a civil engineer with the Bengal Nagpur Railway [G.D.'s father was also a civil engineer and railway builder], both autodidacts, etc., I have no doubt that we would have become friends if our paths had ever crossed. Like Oscar Wilde, he certainly put his talents into his work and his genius into his life. Genius in both senses, that of capacity and that of spirit. A great man whose apocalyptic vision I share with mounting dread for the fate of the planet. If a dreadful nemesis is in store for our own species I am unconcerned, because we deserve whatever thunderbolts the Gods decide to hurl at us.'
Those of us who have had the privilege to visit either Howletts or Port Lympne will have seen the great attention to detail given to the diverse species represented in the two Wild Animal Parks, which have directly resulted from John's passion and desire to do everything possible to provide the best quality of life for the animals that come under their care. In particular, in the way the park environments have taken into full account the psychological and physical well-being of the animals, thereby ensuring that they are being maintained at the highest of standards.
The significant sustained breeding successes of so many endangered species at both Howletts and Port Lympne are greatly respected by those working in the zoo and conservation world. John's private Foundation has recorded many outstanding achievements, in particular in having developed the most prolific and largest gorilla breeding colony in the world. The Foundation's pioneering work with gorillas at the orphanage in Congo Brazzaville, its attempt to reintroduce captive-bred animals to the wild, and more recently its work in the Gabon, has provided the zoo world with an excellent example of how zoos can aid in-country conservation programmes.
John was undoubtedly a maverick of outstanding qualities who lavished his fortune on his passion for animals, with the ultimate aim for them to have a future on the planet that he shared with them. He, like all true leaders, led by example, in particular through his inspirational innovativeness and entrepreneurial skills. Although there can never be another John Aspinall, I am confident that his guiding spirit will continue to influence the zoo world in its achievement of higher standards for the animals that come under their care.
Like the knights of old, John has thrown down his gauntlet of high conservation principles for others to emulate. And, like all such eminent `silver-backs', he has demonstrated to the international zoo fraternity what it is possible to nurture if the multi-disciplinary marriage between man and animal can be achieved.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
John Aspinall a personal reminiscence
by Nicholas Gould
I first met John Aspinall in 1972. At that time, after a few unsatisfactory years as a teacher, I was taking a course in librarianship, and a friend introduced me to John, who was looking for someone to arrange and catalogue his book collection. The three weeks I spent on this job at Howletts were the start of a long relationship in which he employed me on a variety of tasks of a broadly literary or academic nature revising and correcting the manuscript of his book The Best of Friends (Macmillan, 1976), researching the history of his family and of the Howletts house and estate, writing the Howletts and Port Lympne guidebooks and editing their annual publication Help Newsletter, and finally from 1989 editing International Zoo News, which he had owned since 1974 (when he took it over from Gerard van Dam to save it from closure).
A man's private library is perhaps one of the best guides to his personality. Those early weeks among the books at Howletts gave me an insight into John's character which later acquaintance only confirmed. He had a highly-developed aesthetic sense, revealed in his book collection by numbers of fine bindings some of them specially commissioned for favourite books such as George Schaller's The Mountain Gorilla and several shelves of early 20th-century, limited-edition illustrated books by such artists as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. In literature, he had a special fondness for Oscar Wilde and other `Nineties' figures, and he had an almost complete set of first editions of the romantic adventure novels of H. Rider Haggard. In history and biography he ranged widely, from political and military studies of the 19th century back to ancient Greece and Rome; his major enthusiasms in this area included the Zulus and the Hellenistic period that followed the break-up of Alexander's empire.
But zoology, unsurprisingly, formed the core of Aspinall's library. His collection of modern works on the subject would not have disgraced any of the world's top zoo directors; but he also had a good collection of earlier works, some of them extremely valuable, such as D.G. Elliot's monumental Monograph of the Felidae of 1883, with its magnificent hand-coloured lithographs by Josef Wolf. (This and others were, I believe, later sold during a period of financial difficulty, and the proceeds used to help with the running costs of the parks: dearly as John loved his books, the animals always came first.) He had a large number of memoirs by European big-game hunters, with titles like `Through Pondoland with Rod and Gun' (an imaginary, but not exaggerated, example) surprising choices, at first sight, for a passionate defender of animals against their human persecutors, but he explained that, despite their unattractive motivation, many of these men had been keen and skilled observers of African and Asian wildlife at a time when it still survived in almost pristine profusion.
At that time the Howletts animal collection was still totally private, though it already had a stocklist many public zoos would have envied. I had several opportunities to watch John's extraordinary interactions with his animals, those romps with gorillas and tigers which have now thanks to television had an audience of millions around the world. With some other species his relationship was less close, but always full of sympathy and respect. Once he took me into the woodland enclosure of a herd of wild boar. As we approached one of the nesting shelters, we heard a loud gnashing of teeth. `There's a female in there with piglets,' said John. `She's warning us to keep away.' A moment later the mother burst out, heading straight for us. Luckily, while I was still deciding which of the nearby trees to climb, she swerved aside and galloped off with her stripy babies at her heels. John's reaction was enthusiastic `Marvellous animals! After thousands of years of human persecution, she still has the courage to confront us in defence of her young!' Just occasionally, perhaps, he took this attitude a little too far. A cassowary was at liberty in the park, and used to stalk behind visitors, no doubt hoping for titbits. John's comment was not calculated to reassure the faint-hearted: `The cassowary,' he would say admiringly, `is the only bird known to have disembowelled a man with one blow of its foot!' He liked animals to be fiercely independent and resistant to human influence, and tried to avoid his own charges receiving any taint of domestication or training. He was contemptuous of those species which had, as he saw it, sold out to mankind. When I once remarked that the English were regarded as a nation of animal-lovers, he replied, `The English love animal slaves' by which, of course, he meant horses and dogs.
John's approach to wild animal husbandry was based on empathy and common sense, and owed little to conventional zoo methods or `expert' opinion. A German zoo director, he told me, once asked him where he had read that gorillas could be kept on deep straw litter. He replied by asking the man where he had read that gorillas should be kept on concrete flooring. The idea that one should have printed, scientifically-verified authority for every aspect of animal husbandry struck him as ridiculous. Today, of course, deep substrates are becoming fairly common in zoos, but their original use at Howletts was a result of a typical piece of Aspinall's lateral thinking. The thick straw had many benefits, but the least obvious was its medical, or immunological, one. Rather than trying to keep gorillas in a surgically sterile environment, he argued, we should expose them to a range of micro-organisms that would stimulate and develop their immune systems: then, when they encountered disease germs, their bodies' own defence mechanisms would be better able to cope. (Ironically, this idea is only now 40 years later beginning to be seriously advocated as conducive to human health!) The same faith in instinct rather than professional expertise governed his choice of keeping staff: character was what he looked for, not qualifications. The technique worked Howletts and Port Lympne have enjoyed the services of many remarkably talented keepers, and a number of `graduates' of the two parks have gone on to distinguished careers elsewhere in the zoo world.
A common misconception about Howletts and Port Lympne is that their success was founded on inexhaustible inputs of money. This is far from the truth. John Aspinall was, by everyday standards, a rich man; but there are single exhibits in many U.S. zoos which cost more to build than the total capital expenditure of his two parks over a ten-year period. Money was spent where, to him, it mattered in providing ideal conditions for the animals. Pandering to the needs of the viewing public came a long way down his list of priorities. Paradoxically, this approach is one of the reasons why many people find a visit to an Aspinall park a uniquely satisfying experience. A simulated `rainforest environment', for example, is always an illusion, however cunningly presented; the pleasure it gives quickly palls when compared with the joy of watching large family groups of gorillas behaving in a totally natural way, even though their surroundings are unashamedly artificial.
John shared with me a love of Norse legends and the Icelandic sagas, and liked to think that he inherited some viking blood through his father, whose family originated in Caithness, one of the most Scandinavian regions of Britain. Certainly his physical appearance fitted the stereotype. In the great `nature v. nurture' debate, he was firmly on the side of heredity as the major determinant of an individual's character. But malicious attempts to depict him as a racialist on Nazi lines are very wide of the mark: he was delighted when my genealogical researches revealed that one of his great-great-great-grandmothers was the Indian mistress of a British army officer.
While the conservation of wild animals was John's major interest, no description of him would be complete if it failed to mention his achievements in the conservation of old buildings and their grounds. When he bought Howletts in 1956 the house was dilapidated, and its 18th-century symmetry and style had been obscured by tasteless Victorian additions; the five-year restoration he financed made it once again a model of Georgian elegance and charm. The mansion at Port Lympne is in a very different style, one of the last grand country houses to be built in England. Again, when John bought it it was neglected and near-ruinous, but no expense was spared to restore it and its spectacular gardens. As every visitor to either place will agree, what makes Howletts and Port Lympne stand out among the world's animal collections is attention to detail. With his houses and his animal parks and indeed with the gaming clubs which financed them nothing short of perfection was good enough. I can think of no more appropriate inscription for his grave at Howletts than the one on Sir Christopher Wren's tomb in St Paul's Cathedral: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice `If you want to see his memorial, look around you.'
I am prompted to write after reading Herman Reichenbach's review of Rieke-Müller's and Dittrich's book about the old traveling menageries (I.Z.N. 47:3, pp. 180182). I have always found Mr Reichenbach's contributions informed and well written, including also his piece in the same issue on the makeover of Hannover Zoo. However, in the above book review, he gratuitously, needlessly, and unjustly painted all traveling menageries with a broad brush of deprecation. He admits to once having enjoyed them. However, he says that was when he was young and therefore, presumably, unenlightened by the politically correct shibboleths of current zoo professionals.
In hindsight Mr Reichenbach levels a blanket indictment at all traveling menageries as `quite horrible homes for animals' who spent their `presumably miserable lives' in cramped quarters so as to please those paying for admission. Sound familiar? It should, for it is precisely what we hear nowadays from many zoo folks who denigrate `old' zoos or belittle the work of their predecessors. Some do it out of ego, others to deflect the animus aimed at them and their institutions by the anti-zoo crowd. Blame the old zoo not us!
Mantra-like, these new-age zoo folks incant the phrase `natural habitat' with such repetition as to sound for all the world like holy men running laps around their prayer beads. Of course, the new habitats are natural only in the eyes of those among the species Homo sapiens who now insist that they look a certain way. Ken Kawata made the point in his recent and excellent paper `Who Was Belle Benchley? The Victimizing of History', (I.Z.N. 47:1, pp. 411). It bears repeating that regardless of what the visitor sees outside, the indoor/off-exhibit dens, where over half an animal's life is spent, are often only slight improvements, if that, over the beast wagons of old.
Like Mr Reichenbach, I was first inspired in my love of wild animals by those I saw in the circus menagerie, specifically that of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Unlike its European counterparts, apparently, the American traveling menagerie early became a part of the circus. The merger of the two began to occur in 1832, and within a quarter of a century the traveling menagerie, as a separate American enterprise without circus features, had all but disappeared. When I saw the Ringling menagerie in the aforesaid years, it was set up in a vast tent some 115 feet [35 m] wide and 200 to 280 feet [6085 m] long (larger in the earlier part of that period). Following an hour's visit in the menagerie, the circus performance was presented in the `big top'. This was a truly enormous tent, varying over time from 380 to 500 feet [115150 m] in length and 200 feet [60 m] in width. After a matinee performance patrons were often allowed to spend upwards of another hour in the menagerie.
Back then, as now, I lived in Atlanta. At the time in question, Atlanta's zoo was quite mundane in its offerings. We had a female chimpanzee (after World War II), baboon (Papio sp.), rhesus monkeys, some American and Asian black bears, lions, a lone tiger, pumas, spotted leopards, spotted jaguar, spotted hyena. There were Asian elephants (never more than two), a lone zebra (likely Grant's or Chapman's the taxonomists are continually renaming them), Bactrian camels, American bison, chital, and so on. To borrow from the vernacular of current enlightenment and correctitude, all were shown in horrid, heavily-barred and often small cages. Yet, there was good longevity, a point I make only for the shrinking group of zoo professionals and enthusiasts to whom longevity is of any interest at all. We also had good breeding where we had pairs of the appropriate age. Of course, the animals in Atlanta back then were types that seem to breed well under any conditions.
Each year the Ringling circus would come to town, and then I got to see some really rare and wonderful animals. It was at Ringling that I saw my first chimps, orang-utan, gibbon, gorilla, mandrill, giant anteaters, sun, sloth, and polar bears, black leopards, black jaguars, sea lions, African elephants (both bush and forest), Grevy's zebras, tapir (terrestris), black rhino, hippos (both species), giraffes (Nubian), anoa, nilgai, gnus (taurinus and albojubatus), blackbuck, hartebeest, and gemsbok. Had I been visiting the Ringling menagerie as far back as the 1920s, I would have seen therein my first elephant seal (southern form), Malayan tapir, Indian rhino and sable antelope; but those would have to await my travel to distant zoos.
Like me, countless thousands of Americans saw their first animals of these species at Ringling and other prominent circuses. With a few exceptions, the only zoos with such rare animals and comprehensive collections were in cities within the old industrial parallelogram. That was an area bounded roughly by Milwaukee and St Louis on the west and extending east to Washington on the south and Boston on the north. To borrow from Ken Kawata's baseball analogy, that was also the area wherein all the so-called `Big League' teams were located. It was well into the 1950s before cities west and south thereof began to offer comparable zoos and Big League baseball, both being indicia of the growth and development of the American `Sun Belt' states.
The Ringling menagerie during the time of my childhood and pre-adolescence comprised as many as 24 cage wagons (called `beast wagons' in Europe), with another dozen or so for performing lions, tigers, etc. in the backyard alongside the big top. Led by the leash and kept in the menagerie were elephants (30 to 47), camels (about 12), zebras (nine or ten), plus a scattering of llamas and yaks. Stable tents in the backyard housed some 150 performing and show horses. As impressive as that number of equines sounds, it pales when compared to what was carried before 1938, when draft horses provided motive power for work on the circus lot and to move wagons between the showgrounds and train. In 1913, for example, the Ringling circus carried 452 horses of all types.
Most of the cage wagons were 15 to 20 feet [4.56 m] in length. There were special adaptations for animals with unusual needs. Those for the hippos and sea lions were equipped with bathing pools. The giraffe wagons each housed a single animal. There were two or three in my day, but four in the early 1930s. Each giraffe wagon was of drop-frame construction and heavily padded inside. For exhibition, each giraffe was led out of the wagon and shown inside the menagerie within a high-sided metal mesh pen. When disassembled, the pens traveled in sections strapped to the outsides of the wagon.
The gorilla wagons were the largest. Two in number, each was about 25 feet long and 8 feet wide [7.6 ΄ 2.4 m]. They were built in 1938 and 1941, respectively, for the celebrated male Gargantua and the long-lived female, Toto. The one for Toto was a copy of Gargantua's wagon. Both were air-conditioned, with bars set inside glass panels. They were similar to the glass-fronted gorilla cages in zoos of the time.
In 1941 the circus spent a huge sum to make the animal exhibits more `zoo-looking'. They hired noted designer Norman Bel Geddes, who had gained fame for his Futurama at the 193940 New York World's Fair. He devised a poleless suspension tent within which to exhibit the two gorillas. Called `Gorilla Land', it was positioned between the menagerie tent and the big top. Inside the tent, the big cages were placed end to end and portable raised viewing platforms were erected on each side so the crowds could better see the two celebrated animals. As many as 10,000 people per performance would pass through Gorilla Land on their way from the menagerie tent to the big top.
In the menagerie tent itself, Bel Geddes used a clever system of colorful interlocking art deco panels to connect the cage wagons so that each animal compartment had a shadow-box effect. The ceilings of the cages were made to lift and on their undersides fluorescent lights were affixed. They distributed even illumination within the cage. Inside each cage, murals were painted around the three sides facing the viewer. Each critter got a different one to represent its natural habitat (ah, the phrase de rigueur!). There was an arctic landscape for the polar bear, open veldt for the lions, river scene for the hippo, etc. This was very much like the scenery painted on the walls of the cages inside Cincinnati Zoo's present feline building. The upper side panels on the Ringling cage wagons swung up to a vertical position and on each the name of the animal and its habitat were imposed in large block, illuminated letters (white against a dark blue background), reminiscent of the letters on theater marquees of old. The lower side panels of the cage wagons folded down to the ground hiding the wagon wheels behind them. The effect was of a row of permanent indoor cages in a zoo building.
There was also a `giraffe island', an elevated circular platform on top of which those animals had their enclosure. Camels and zebras were tethered on the ground in a surrounding circle. Another innovation was a monkey island surrounded by water-filled canvas moat. Monkey islands were then the rage, and zoos everywhere had installed them. Alas, the Ringling one did not work. The designers had failed to take into account that circus grounds are seldom if ever level, with the result that the water gathered in the lowest place. Moreover, the clever rhesus monkeys had no trouble scrambling out via the ropes and tent poles which they managed to reach. So, Monkey Island was packed up after only two engagements and sent back to winter quarters.
Nevertheless, what remained was quite breathtaking, certainly so to a less sophisticated public of sixty years ago. Newsweek magazine gave the Ringling zoo a positive nod (14 April 1941). For sure it was unlike anything this young lad had ever seen. In fact he has not seen anything quite like it since. What all this proves is that the Ringling management was ever attentive to what appealed to the public, and was willing to spend the money to accomplish it.
It should also be mentioned that while the circus was on the road during 1941, workers were busy at its Sarasota, Florida, winter quarters constructing outdoor enclosures for monkeys and hippos. Both were barless with moats and artificial rockwork. That they were Stellingen-like is not surprising since Erich Hagenbeck, youngest son of Lorenz, designed them. He did the work just in time, for in April 1942 he was interned as an enemy alien.
Ringling carried the modernistic menagerie again in 1942. That year it spent more substantial sums to hire Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine. The former composed a score for an elephant ballet choreographed by the latter. Both men were then at the top of their respective art forms. Shortages and transportation limitations brought on by the war required that the menagerie be reduced for 1943. When it reappeared in 1944 et seq., it was without Bel Geddes's fanciness.
The Ringling cage wagons were indeed small by the standards of the moralizers of the `modern ark'. But, so was the house I lived in with my family back in the late 1930s. I go there now and cannot imagine how we could have had any real comfort in the place. Yet, from what I can recall, my family's happiest years were spent there.
Mr Reichenbach is quite correct when he states that one could really get a good look at the animals in the circus menagerie. That is not true for many of our new zoo exhibits. I am reminded of an incident several years ago at Zoo Atlanta. I was standing in front of the large orang-utan habitat (one never hears the words `cage' or `enclosure' at our zoo). As hard as I tried, I could not see our `men of the woods'. I remarked to a young woman keeper who was standing nearby that the enclosure allowed them to be hidden from public view. With a tone of flippancy she said that it was good the animals could get out of view and that they needed some freedom from the stares of visitors. Little comfort that would be for today's orang-utan fan who had just shelled out the thirteen-dollar admission fee to see them.
For animal care, Ringling employed one and sometimes two full-time veterinarians. As to keepers and grooms, let us take 1939 as an example. That year the circus employed 149 men to care for the animals it transported. They were organized into five departments, each with a superintendent, to wit: elephants (47), gorilla Gargantua (5), remainder of menagerie (26), performing wild animals (12), and performing horses (59).
Menagerie and elephant keepers always wore attractive uniforms trimmed with piping, plus a hat with bill. They were stationed all along the line of cage wagons and in front of the long elephant picket line. The animals all looked well cared for and healthy. The Ringling veterinarian, Dr J.Y. Henderson, once told me that in all his 15 years of traveling about with giraffes, as many as three at once, he never lost one on the road owing to illness or the rigors of travel, including three calves born while traveling. Records still extant verify that.
On Ringling's menagerie cage wagons signs were hung identifying each animal and its native home. In what passed for an education program (we've got to have that nowadays to justify zoo existence), the keepers would take questions from the public. The enthusiasm of the answer depended upon the extent to which the propounder displayed more than the usual ignorance. Even as a child of eleven, I recall talking with elephant men about the personalities of individual pachyderms in the herd. At least to me, they imparted valuable information and inspired my continued love of animals.
Some of the Ringling keepers were well along in age and had been with the animals for many years. Though he was gone before my day, the Hungarian-born giraffe keeper Andrew Zingraben (18611931) was notable. Called `Old Andrew', he came to America in 1902 with Barnum & Bailey when it returned from its five-year tour of England and the Continent. He was employed to look after its giraffes and was still doing so when he died. He established a successful giraffe-breeding program in the circus when most American zoos, including the National Zoo, had not even had the animal.
Mr Reichenbach is correct when he says that animals in traveling menageries often lived for quite long times. Here in America, female gorilla Toto was with Ringling for 27 years after having been a pet of Mrs Hoyt in Cuba for an earlier nine 36 years altogether. Female Asian elephant Gentry Babe arrived from Hagenbeck in 1900 and died with Gene Holter in California in 1967, or 67 years with various circuses. Presently, the oldest male elephant anywhere in America is the impressive Asian, King Tusk, formerly know as Tommy. Upon arrival from Mysore, India, he was delivered to the Dailey Bros. Circus at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, on 7 June 1947 and is still living after 53 years. He is now owned by Ringling and resides in retirement at its facility near Williston, Florida (a different location from the breeding center). A female common hippo named Lotus died in her pool at Ringling's Sarasota winter quarters in 1954 after having logged 51 years with circuses. Nubian giraffe Edith (née Soudana) toured with Ringling from 1936, the year she arrived from the Sudan, through 1954, nineteen years, during which she produced three viable calves, all born on the road. Edith died in winter quarters in August 1955. A celebrated animal, she appeared on the cover of Life magazine for 8 April 1946.
In former times, many American zoo men had been with circuses before they gave up constant travel for the more placid zoo life. And some ex-circus elephant men still look after those animals in zoos. Up until about 1980, American zoos and circuses regularly traded animals. For example, the very first rhino I ever saw was the young male African black, Bobby, with Ringling. That was on Monday, 5 November 1945. He had been born in Brookfield Zoo and was named after Robert Ringling, then president of the show. The zoo hoped the name would encourage the circus to purchase the little animal, which it did. The late George Speidel delivered Bobby to Ringling at Washington D.C. in June 1945. Speidel was then at Brookfield Zoo, was later director of Milwaukee Zoo, and served as President of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. He was a most highly respected zoo man and would hardly have committed America's second-born rhino to a `horrible home' resulting in a `miserable life', to borrow Mr Reichenbach's words.
In the light of all the foregoing, I say it is wrong to retrospectively condemn as cruel and inadequate the animal keeping of Ringling and other circuses. My view finds support in the work of the ethologists Dr Heini Hediger (any number of his books and papers) and Dr. Marthe Kiley-Worthington in her Animals in Circuses and Zoos Chiron's World (Little Eco-Farms Publishing, Basildon, Essex, 1990). Both Hediger and Kiley-Worthington hold that circus animals are not mistreated merely by reason of their being kept in that milieu. Hediger's study of animal behavior within various enclosures is particularly significant. In his `From Cage to Territory', in Kirchshofer's The World of Zoos: A Survey and Gazetteer (1968), Hediger stated that to the animal it makes no difference whether the space at its disposal is limited by traditional wooden fences and iron bars or by ditches, etc. As Kawata recently wrote in his `Victimizing of History' piece, Hediger's wisdom is ageless. Hediger pointed out that what seems necessary from a human perspective is not true for the animal. He cited instances of huge enclosures being constructed that go largely unused by the animals. Atlanta Zoo offers its black rhinos a large, albeit rather narrow, enclosure. Yet, unless she has changed her ways recently, the female of the pair will not venture much beyond a muddy spot adjacent to the door to her house. She would do just as well in Ringling's rhino wagon, the one in which I saw Bobby back in 1945.
Unless I am missing something, circus menageries are not gone from our culture as suggested by Mr Reichenbach. At my last count, fine menageries were still attached to Circus Knie, Cirque Jean Richard, Cirque Pinder, Circus Barum, Togni's Circo Americano, and several of the Casartelli family shows, to mention but a few. Here in America the Carson & Barnes Circus still tours with a menagerie that includes a pygmy hippo and a baby Asian elephant born there.
In conclusion, I strongly disagree with Mr Reichenbach's anathematic view of the old menageries. I verily miss the Ringling menageries of old and wish I could see them again.
Richard J. Reynolds, III,
1186 Warrenhall Lane, N.E.,
Georgia 303191957, U.S.A.
PRE- AND POST-PARTUM BEHAVIOUR OF A FEMALE MALAYAN SUN BEAR AT WELLINGTON ZOO
BY JOHN PICKARD
Since my last article appeared in I.Z.N. (Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 134140), our sun bears (Helarctos m. malayanus) have produced cubs on two more occasions. On the first (10/12/98) there was a single cub, which survived for seven days. Unfortunately the female gave birth at 99 days, a day earlier than she normally births. Also, because of behavioural problems, she had not been separated into our cubbing area and gave birth in one of our regular enclosure dens. Consequently she did not feel secure and did not look after the cub properly (even though she must have suckled it to start with), and it eventually died.
After a recovery period she came back into season and was reintroduced to our male (29/12/98). A single mating event was seen (1/1/99). We assumed that she was pregnant, and this was reinforced when she did not cycle again six to eight weeks later, which we had been told would be when she cycled (Hesterman, 2000). We separated her into the cubbing enclosure (21/3/99), and, as noted in I.Z.N. 46:4 (p. 248), she gave birth to twin male cubs on 10 April (100 days). This time the cubs were properly cared for by their mother; they have survived and at the time of writing are over ten months old.
My reason for writing this second article is to present the data we have gathered from the pre- and post-parturition periods. I am presenting our observations for comparison with the limited information already published on sun bear births.
This time, in view of our record of four failed attempts at breeding, we adopted a different approach before the birth. From the point of separation, roughly three weeks prior to the birth, we adopted a hands-off, minimum disturbance approach. From then onwards we let the female's behaviour guide us as to when to make changes. For three months we restricted all access to the cubbing enclosure area, and only allowed in the four keepers who work the section. We kept all maintenance and grounds staff and machinery away from the area, and as far as possible reduced all sources of extraneous noise to a minimum. (We did not alter the normal background noises that the bears are used to, e.g. zoo service vehicles, animals in neighbouring enclosures.)
The cubbing den has heating ducted to it from the keeper service and observation room next door. As the time approached for the female to give birth, we started heating the den at night. After she gave birth the heating was turned up to give an ambient temperature of between 15° and 25° C, and it was left on 24 hours per day until the cubs were just over a month old. After that it was switched off during the daytime until the cubs were starting to emerge on a regular basis. Then it was switched off altogether. We decided on this heating regime because the mother gave birth in mid-autumn, so as it was well into winter before the cubs began to come out, we were worried about the den getting too cold for them.
The nesting material we offered to our female consisted mainly of straw and bamboo stalks with the foliage on them. To this she added sticks from the enclosure and plywood which she removed from the cubbing den walls and bench. From 12 days after the birth we started to offer her fresh nesting material, and this continued on a weekly basis until the 13th week, when we were able to get in and clean out the den area for the first time. From then on we were able to provide a fresh nest every week in conjunction with cleaning out the dens.
Using an infra-red light and an infra-red light sensitive video surveillance camera set into the roof above the cubbing den (safely out of bear reach and protected by heavy weldmesh and perspex), we recorded our female bear's activities. The video recorder, which was set on slow record, ran for 24 hours per day using one three-hour tape per 24 hours. This set-up continued from when she was separated until ten days after the birth. We then moved onto night-time recording, which continued until the cubs were ready to go into the main enclosure at five months old.
Initially the tapes were reviewed daily to pick up significant behavioural changes and then the birth event. Most of this information was transferred into our bear notebook. We continued to check the tapes daily until the cubs were a month old and considered to be out of any initial danger. After this the tapes were reviewed when there had been some significant change overnight and we wanted to see when and why it had occurred, but otherwise the tapes were held as a backup. To prepare this paper I used the information contained in the bear notebook. Where this had not been recorded in sufficient detail to collate, I went back to the videotapes and re-reviewed them, categorising the behaviours and recording them into activity budget observation tables.
We also used the video surveillance equipment for regular stock checks. Once we had separated our female we checked her regularly to monitor progress. The cubs were initially detected by their vocalisations and thereafter by regular video checks until the female moved them under the bench at two weeks old. After this we reverted to listening for their vocalisations (and the odd glimpses we got of them on video) until they started to emerge from under the bench at about eight to nine weeks old.
The data presented in the results section was collated using the following method. The bear's behaviours were broken down into broad categories of behaviour, as they occurred. The categories used were; Resting/Sleeping, Alert/Awake, Outside/Down (off the bench), Nest-building, Grooming, Labour/Contractions, Grooming/Manipulating cubs, Nursing/Suckling cubs, and Female feeding. Then I went through the tapes and bear notebook making one entry for every ten minutes of time elapsed (or involved in a continuing activity, e.g. sleeping), or when the behaviour changed. The pre-birth data cover the periods 29/330/3 and 2/410/4, omitting the two days 31/31/4, when data were not recorded in sufficient detail to tabulate. (Please ignore the entries for 31/3 and 1/4 in the first graph: my limited knowledge of Microsoft Excel meant that the computer erroneously included these days for which there was no data.) The written observational information presented comes from the bear notebook.
Figure 1 shows the percentage changes in the daily behavioural patterns of the female bear over ten recorded days prior to birth, including the evening immediately beforehand (9/410/4). The bar chart (Figure 2) gives the overall percentages for the observed behaviours during the ten days prior to giving birth. These charts were derived from 157.8 hours of video recordings or 947 data entries.
Figure 3 represents the daily percentage change in behaviours for the ten days after birth, including the morning after giving birth, while Figure 4 gives the overall percentages of the behaviours for the post-birth period. These charts were collated from 209.5 hours of video recording or 1,257 data entries.
Results behavioural observations
From the point of separation (21/3) the female's appetite declined. By the end of March it had reduced to the point where she was only eating a small amount of her favourite foods, e.g. grapes, honey, pears and kiwi fruit in all, perhaps as little as one-quarter of her normal diet.
After she gave birth it was seven days before we offered her any food. We consulted our files, the zoo vet, and a number of overseas zoos including studbook holders to find appropriate foods. We started with small quantities of her favourite foods, which we gradually increased as she ate more. This diet included lots of energy-rich foods containing calcium in a usable form, proteins, vitamins and all the trace elements necessary for our country. It consisted of mealworms dusted in calcium, grapes, cooked white rice with condensed milk, blackcurrant concentrate with honey added, locusts dusted in calcium, peanut butter and honey sandwiches on wholemeal or grain bread with Vi-daylin (a children's tonic with many vitamins and minerals) added, dog biscuits softened in warm water with honey added (these biscuits contain all the necessary trace elements, i.e. selenium, iodine, cobalt, molybdenum and magnesium), hard-boiled eggs, and dates.
She did not show any interest in her normal range of fruit which is usually the bulk of her diet until the cubs were two-and-a-half months old. Early on we offered her some fish and cooked chicken flesh, but she didn't eat them and we didn't offer it again until the cubs were coming out of the dens and we would be able to clean it up if it wasn't eaten.
We estimate that it took her three months to regain her normal appetite. By this time the cubs had started feeding on the easier-to-eat solids, and the amount of food they required increased dramatically.
From our video of the night of 9/10 April we noted the female's contraction pattern. This started approximately six hours prior to the birth and occurred with greater frequency and shorter intervals as the time approached.
Contractions: 8.15 p.m., 10.30 p.m., 0.37 a.m., 1.09 a.m., 1.20 a.m., 1.35 a.m., 1.43 a.m., 1.51 a.m., 1.58 a.m. and 2.03 a.m. (The last two contractions were births.) Intervals: 2.15, 2.07, 0.32, 0.11, 0.15, 0.09, 0.08, 0.07 and 0.05.
Female interactions with cubs
Initially she moved the cubs with her mouth (with the cub right in the mouth) and forepaws. She started suckling them on her lowest nipples. When they were correctly positioned she would curl up around them, either in an upright position or on her side, and appear to rest or sleep herself. It wasn't until the sixth day that she lay out flat on her back and moved the cubs to her upper nipples. After the first two weeks she mainly used her upper nipples to suckle the cubs, and didn't curl around them as much. She took to lying on her side by them with a paw over them.
In the first month, if the cubs were asleep when she wanted to go out to defecate or feed, she would cover them with a loose layer of straw. If she wanted to go out and they were awake, she would try to take one or both of them with her, carrying them in her mouth. This usually resulted in multiple trips in and out to accomplish her purpose and to get the cubs back into the nest.
After the first few times we offered her food, when she had learned what was going on (i.e. same sounds, same time of day), she wouldn't come out to feed until the cubs were asleep or quiet. She would only feed until the cubs missed her and started vocalising. Initially this meant short feeding periods of only a minute or two, which slowly increased as the cubs got more used to her not always being there. This pattern persisted until the cubs started to follow her out, at around 70 days old. Also at this point she began taking food back into the den and letting the cubs try it.
As the cubs grew larger and more independent they started following her out. Then her method of moving them changed. In times of low stress she would walk to where she was going and while walking call them, using the sun bear's `nickering' call, and they followed closely behind. When she moved them if they had been disturbed, frightened or startled, she would use the following methods. (1) Moving in and out of the dens, which have low doorways, she would still use her mouth, carrying them primarily by the scruff of the neck, or occasionally by any protruding bit she could get a hold on; this doesn't harm the cubs, as they relax once she has a hold on them. (2) She would run across the cubbing enclosure and call them after her, using a more insistent version of the same call. (3) She would gather them up in her forepaws and walk on her hind legs. By the time they moved to the main enclosure the cubs were too big to be carried at the same time, so she would pick up the most frightened one and call for the other to follow. She is still very protective of them, and will pick up a cub that has alarm-barked and attempt to move it to safety if it hasn't done so itself.
Notes cub development
10/4/99 1.58 a.m. and 2.03 a.m., cub births, born naked, greyish colour, strong vocalisers.
24/4/99 14 days old, able to thermoregulate, dam moved them off bench to cooler nest underneath, growing coat, strong vocalisers.
2/5/99 22 days old, starting to move around, not coordinated.
7/5/99 27 days old, eyes open, movement more coordinated, not up on legs yet.
30/5/99 50 days old, using legs fully, venturing out from nest, away from dam.
14/6/99 65 days old, starting to venture towards the den door after dam goes out.
21/6/99 72 days old, cubs seen investigating food after dam brought it inside.
23/6/99 74 days old, first cub seen outside with mother.
24/6/99 75 days old, both cubs seen out with mother.
4/7/99 85 days old, both cubs out with mother, eating solids.
20/7/99 101 days old, smaller cub given medical examination, weighed 6.3 kg.
16/9/99 156 days old, cubs and dam moved to main enclosure, cubs took two weeks to explore, adjust and relax in new surroundings.
30/11/99 230 days old, adult male introduced to group without problems.
Sun bear cubs are very strong vocalisers the first indication we had that the cubs were born was when we heard them from outside as we approached the dens to check on the female. Throughout the time before the cubs ventured outside, they could often be heard from as much as 20 metres away from the dens. Their early vocalisations could be broken down into three types (adapted from Hawes, 1997): `humming' relaxed, contented cub with a full stomach; `mumming' contented cub suckling or nursing; and `squawking/squalling' upset, distressed or frightened cub.
Cub alopecia problem
When the cubs first came out of the den on 23 June, it was noted that they had sore spots and hair loss around their head and shoulders. We had not seen this problem developing, because the video screen image does not show the animals in sufficient detail. We had even failed to detect it when we checked them visually through our viewing port, as we were looking at chocolate-brown cubs against a mainly black background.
The zoo vet was notified, and we also consulted our previous vet at Perth Zoo. They were shown the photos and video footage we had, and initially thought it was a skin mite problem developed in the warm, moist den conditions. We tried to treat it by giving the mother a large dose of anti-parasite solution (22 ml Ivermectin, 2/7/99) in her food, which we hoped would be passed on to the cubs through her milk. We also added anti-parasite powder to the fresh bedding material we supplied to the dens. These treatments did not produce an improvement in the cubs, and as we were becoming worried that they would develop a secondary infection which can be life-threatening in bear cubs, we decided a more intrusive approach was needed.
On 14 July we started treating the cubs with small doses of a general-purpose antibiotic (one-quarter tablet Rilexene [cephalexin] per cub per day). On 20 July we anaesthetised the dam and caught the smaller of the cubs, from whom we took blood samples, skin scrapings and biopsy from the affected areas. The cub was also weighed. Present at this procedure was the zoo hospital section, zoo vet and an animal dermatologist from Massey University. We continued an increased Sefradex treatment until the results came through a week later. They showed that the cubs had a double bacterial skin infection caused by Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter. To combat this we changed our medication to 50 mg Clavulox [clavulanic acid] per cub per day. We were able to administer the medicine by crushing the tablets and mixing them with honey and blackcurrant concentrate to disguise their flavour. Then they would lick it off a dessert spoon while somebody kept their dam occupied with honey treats. They had this treatment daily for six weeks, by which time the problem had cleared up and their fur was growing back.
The cubs at four months, starting to recover from alopecia. (Photo: D. Pickard)
It was not a surprise to us that our bears produced twin male cubs, even though twin cubs are a rarity in zoo-bred sun bears (Kolter, 1995; Frederick, 1998). She had produced twins on one previous occasion, so we knew she carried the gene for twins. Also, she is a twin herself (as far as we know her twin brother, Ringo, is still at San Diego Zoo). What did surprise us was the weight loss she underwent while rearing the cubs. We had her normal weight recorded as somewhere between 80 and 85 kilos, with one recording of 92 kg several years ago when she was pregnant. We were able to weigh her when the cubs were eight-and-a-half months old i.e. when she had virtually stopped feeding them and she only weighed 76 kg.
Something that was not seen during the birth process was the female producing the afterbirth, and it was never found. She may simply have been facing towards us, thereby blocking the camera's view of her rear end. I assume that we didn't see her produce it and that she ate it, as is normal in most carnivores.
The changes in her behaviour will be discussed in the Conclusions section.
Cubbing den limitations
The difficulties we experienced in monitoring this birth and assisting the female to raise the cubs were due to drawbacks in the operation of our cubbing den and limitations in its design.
The fixed-position video surveillance equipment we use only allows us to see the animals when they are on the bench or out on the floor, but not when they are elsewhere. Even when we can see them we are usually looking at outlines rather than detailed pictures.
We discovered the hard way that our cubbing den bench was built at the wrong height (800 mm) above the ground, of the wrong material (heavy marine plywood), and with a front of insufficient height attached to it.
As I have said, the cubs were born in autumn, which turned to winter while they were still quite young. Consequently, we were worried that the den would be too cold for them and kept it heated. We have learned that it is necessary to keep a higher than ambient temperature (say, between 15° and 25° C) only for the first two weeks, until the cubs are able to thermoregulate. After that it should only need to be used in very cold weather. I am certain that our over-use led to the female being uncomfortable and moving the nest to the damper environment under the bench, which in turn led to the alopecia problem in the cubs.
Once the female was in the den with cubs, we realised that the designer had not considered how to get food and nesting material to them without disturbance, or how to keep it out of the weather and away from other animals such as birds. We managed to come up with short-term solutions that allowed us to get by. But we are now working on design modifications that will allow us to fully service this enclosure next time.
The above problem led us into a secondary design problem. The build-up of material around the outer den doorway meant we were unable to shut and lock it securely. This made it unsafe for us to go into the area to initiate cleaning of the den/enclosure area. To solve this impasse we had to wait until the dam and cubs were coming out regularly, so that they could be temporarily locked away into other dens. This delay cost us nearly three weeks from the time when we had wanted to start cleaning, and also probably contributed to the severity of the cubs' skin infection. After moving them across for the first time we managed to accustom them to a routine which allowed us to regularly clean their dens and enclosure.
We monitored the developmental stages of our cubs by using the data in Table II on page 3 of the EEP studbook (Kolter, 1995) as our guideline. Our cub development, as outlined above, followed this table closely in terms of thermoregulation, eye-opening, moving onto solids and venturing outside. Because of our non-intrusion policy we were not able to monitor teeth development or weight increment. We did weigh the smaller cub at just over three months of age, and it was 0.5 kg light by the table. This didn't worry us, because the table would have been based on data for single cubs as this is the norm, and one would expect twins to be smaller as the mother's milk resource is being split two ways. Our cubs do not differ significantly from each other in terms of size and weight. One is slightly larger and was 1.8 kg heavier at nine-and-a-half months old. There is no detectable difference in terms of behavioural development.
Before we decided to introduce the female and cubs to our male, we wrote to the sun bear studbook holders and asked about the process, whether they recommended it, and what age the cubs should be. Most of the replies were favourable, and our male is a non-aggressive animal, so we decided to proceed. Initially our cubs met their father through a heavy weld-mesh door when they were four-and-a-half months old. To start with they were frightened and unsure of him, but because their mother stayed calm and relaxed in his presence, they also calmed down. We continued these meetings for three months, especially after the cubs moved to the main enclosure. Eventually they got used to his presence and would go over and greet him by sniffing noses a couple of times a day. He never showed any aggression towards them. When the cubs were seven-and-a-half months old we opened the door and let him into their space. When the female saw him she went and gave him a very friendly greeting, as she had been separated from him for just over eight months. The cubs followed her over and sniffed noses with him. This was done in a carefully monitored situation with many keepers and emergency equipment present. We also had volunteer observers who watched the bears for three days, when we couldn't be present, to make certain nothing went wrong To date he has not shown any aggression towards the cubs, except for warnings when they try to take his food (he is a bear, after all). He plays with them, and has become protective of them. One of the cubs, who has a similar temperament to his, now spends quite a lot of time with him.
Female behaviour pre-birth
There were significant changes in the females's behaviour in the period the pre-birth data was taken from. She reduced the percentage of the night she spent asleep from approximately 90% to about 60%. The percentage of time spent in the den did not alter much, but her activities did. This was especially noticeable when the amount of time spent awake in the den and nest-building were considered. Eleven nights prior to the birth she spent only ten minutes nest-building, whereas during the last few nights she spent a minimum of one-and-a-half hours on it. The time spent awake in the den also increased as her time drew near. I think this indicates that she was increasingly restless or uncomfortable, and was finding it difficult to relax. It had been previously suggested to us (Hesterman, pers. comm.) that the increase in nest-building is a good indicator of approaching birth, and our data bear this out. Her birth contractions showed a clear pattern of increasing frequency approaching birth.
Female behaviour post-birth
The post-birth data shows some clear behavioural trends. Similarly to the pre-birth data, the amount of time spent sleeping or resting continued to decline. The time spent awake and alert in the den maintained a constant percentage. I consider that in a post-birth behaviours context this related to the role of watching over and guarding the new-born cubs that is, when she was not actively engaged in nursing them. Obviously the big increase in the post-birth period behaviours is in the activities related to caring for the cubs (behavioural categories Nursing/Suckling and Grooming cubs). From immediately after the birth these categories combined accounted for approximately 40% of her daily routine, and for the first ten days never dropped below 26% of her daily activities. When we were monitoring this period and when I was collating videotape footage, it was sometimes difficult to decide which of these two activities was occurring or whether it was a combination of both. The female rarely ventured out of the den until the cubs were seven days old; her trips outside to defecate were usually over within a minute. Similarly, when we started to offer her food she was out and back quickly within the ten days of data she never spent more than three minutes at a time feeding. Nest-building was not a significant post-birth activity until the tenth day, when she had a burst of activity and reorganised the nest environment. We started offering her fresh nesting material from the twelfth day onwards.
When comparing the two different periods, there are two behavioural trends that can be drawn right through the data; the rest are individual trends and have already been addressed. Firstly, as a component of the female's daily activities Resting/Sleeping declined throughout the data period, from over 90% at the beginning to over 40% at the end. Initially nest-building took up the increased activity budget time, and in the post-birth period caring for the cubs took up a large percentage of activity time. Secondly, the Alert/Awake time spent in the den continued at about 11% of activities, after it had built up to 9% just prior to the birth. But as I have said, this behaviour probably had a different function after birth.
In conclusion, I consider that this time our female had enough of the right stimuli and a sufficiently correct environment for her to feel secure enough to tackle the substantial investment in effort, time, and energy necessary to successfully raise cubs in a zoo environment. The presented data highlights the behavioural changes that took place during the process of giving birth and afterwards. I think our bear's history of unsuccessful births was a factor in this, as on each occasion she had shown improvement in her maternal skills and a stronger instinctual urge.
As a final factor I cannot emphasise enough how important we consider the privacy and lack of disturbance we gave her during this process. No matter how critical I have been of our facilities, we were still successful, and needless to say they will be significantly improved before we try to breed our bears again.
Firstly, I would like to thank my team of keepers, Bob Bennett, Pauline Messer and Kevin Carroll, for their help and assistance throughout this process. Secondly, I would like to thank the rest of the Wellington Zoo staff and management for their help and support, most especially the hospital section and our vet, Steve Mirams. During this time we also received assistance from Sharyn Garner (our observer), Heather Hesterman, Lydia Kolter (EEP coordinator), Sheryl Frederick (international studbook holder), Gail Ackerman (Australasian studbook), Elizabeth Lee (Massey University dermatologist) and Sherri Huntress (Perth Zoo vet).
I would also like to thank Dr Ben Bell and Kim McConkie from Victoria University who supported my initial ideas for this paper.
Frederick, C. (1998): The North American Asiatic Black Bear and Sun Bear Studbook. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, U.S.A.
Hawes, J. (1997): Raising a Malayan sunbear. Zoonooz Vol. 70, No. 9, San Diego, U.S.A.
Hesterman, H. (2000): Behavioural and biochemical analyses of sun bears. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis, Massey University, New Zealand.
Kolter, L. (1995): The European Studbook for Malayan Sun Bears. Cologne Zoo, Germany.
John Pickard, M.Sc., Section Head for Ursids/Ungulates, Wellington Zoological Gardens, Manchester Street, Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.
Appendix 1. The following data tables represent the percentage data mapped in the Results section (above).
30/3 2/4 3/4 4/4 5/4 6/4 7/4 8/4 9/4 10/4
sleep 81 95.3 93.9 79.2 85.6 72.3 79.4 76.6 76.4 56.7
alert 1.15 0 0 8.97 0 0 0 3.6 0 9.3
out 16.8 4.6 4 10.8 8.95 20.8 8.65 9.98 4.6 10.3
nesting 1.15 0 2.1 0.9 4.2 4.6 11.9 8.9 18.99 10.3
groom 0 0 0 0 1.2 2.3 0 0.8 0 4.1
labour 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9.3
10/4 11/4 12/4 13/4 14/4 15/4 16/4 17/4 18/4 19/4
sleep 59.4 64.2 53.52 52.2 55.3 53.97 46.4 45.76 53.9 44.1
alert 0 0 16.09 20.87 15.9 2.45 21.9 11.64 12.07 13.14
out 0 0.07 0.36 0.55 0.3 0.25 0.47 1.16 1.45 0.93
nesting 0 0.73 0 0 0 0.83 0 0.8 0.82 7.7
groom 0 2.14 0 0 0 1.62 0 0 0 0
groom c 24.3 16.4 19 15.98 15.2 21.2 17.2 25.6 15.3 16.25
nursing 16.2 16.4 11 10.4 13.16 19.6 13.94 14.75 16.08 17.78
feed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.32 0.4 0
groom c 18.64
LA VALLÉE DES SINGES A NEW PRIMATE ZOO IN FRANCE
BY JAN VERMEER
On 14 July 1998, a new primate zoo opened its doors to the public. La Vallée des Singes (`Primate Valley'), initiated by the local government, was the most recent project to increase employment in the department of La Vienne, west-central France, following the strategy of creating jobs by increasing tourism. The park, which was build for `only' £2.1 million, was financed by local, national and European grants. It was designed after the example of Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands. The founder and former director of Apenheul, Wim Mager, was brought in to develop the layout, enclosures and animal inventory of La Vallée des Singes. The highlight of the park would be the free-roaming monkeys and the contact visitors would have with these animals. The ultimate goal is conservation through education, the primates in the park being the ambassadors for their wild counterparts. A primate conservation foundation, the `Conservatoire pour la Protection des Primates', was founded, which will be responsible for the welfare of the animals in the park, and the support of in situ conservation projects.
Before visitors enter the park, they will be told some rules which they have to keep. It is not permitted to feed, touch or catch the monkeys, and all personal belongings must be kept in a special `monkey-proof bag' that is available at the entrance. Experience has shown that this first personal contact upon entry is very important for the future behaviour of the visitors in the park. When they enter the park, they arrive in a wide, spacious green area with a small lake. They can follow the signs, and will arrive via a small bridge in the first territory, the squirrel monkey area. A group of over 50 captive-bred squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis peruviensis) has been obtained from a laboratory breeding station in Florida. The group has access to a wooded area of about 6,000 m2, which they share with a family of golden-headed lion tamarins. Squirrel monkeys are still difficult to breed in captivity, and much attention is being paid to the husbandry of this species. We believe that stress is the major cause of the problems occurring in this genus, affecting their immune system and their carbohydrate metabolism. Animals under stress seem to be more susceptible to infections (especially dental abscesses) and birth problems (babies being too large), while their general condition may be poor (hair- and weight-loss). Stress may even have a negative effect on the sex ratio (new, stressful groups show a prevalence of male babies). We try to decrease stress by keeping the animals in a large natural area with spacious inside quarters and a large, social group. The keepers try to avoid stress by keeping cleaning time to a minimum when the animals are inside and by providing a wide range of enrichment. A total of 27 babies have been born since the group arrived. Keepers recognise all the animals individually and all reproductive events have been documented, in order to gather more information on the reproductive behaviour of squirrel monkeys living in a large social group.
This area like all the others is surrounded by (artificial) moats, and no barriers are visible to the visitors. At both sides of the night quarters there are islands for cotton-top tamarins and white-fronted marmosets.
The next two territories have been reserved for Barbary macaques. It was decided to make two separate islands for this species, as more than one group was received from different zoos. However, possibly due to the large size of both islands (together more than one-and-a-half hectares) and their dense vegetation, all the groups intermingled without many problems, and a stable group of over 25 animals has been formed. In the park there is a wide variety of trees and plants, all of them improving the diversity of the animals' diet. The barbary macaques can forage in spring on wild cherries, while autumn is a real feast with large quantities of sweet chestnuts, acorns and beechnuts. They do not have access to an inside enclosure, but winters are mild in this part of France. The macaques are free-roaming among the visitors, but we do discourage direct contact, by feeding them some metres away from the pathways. It has been shown that the visitors respect the rules of the park very well, and they rarely pass the 20-cm high barriers that border the paths.
The next territory is our Madagascar area. Here visitors can meet three species of lemur ruffed lemurs (both subspecies), ring-tailed lemurs and white-fronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus albifrons). The ruffed and ring-tailed lemurs are living in bachelor groups. The group of ruffed lemurs was formed from animals of various ages. We started with a group of seven males, but added another five after one year. As we knew that it is difficult to integrate new adult males into an existing group, we decided to work the other way round. The new animals were introduced to each other in the quarantine building. When bonds were well established within this group, we introduced the animals from our existing group to the new group one by one. No territory had to be defended, and the formation of the group proved to be uncomplicated. After all 12 animals were living peacefully together, we transferred them to the lemur house. The ring-tailed group was formed with ten animals of various ages from different zoos. There were some disputes in the first few weeks, but the group calmed down when the ranking order was settled. Six more animals of less than a year old were added without any problems. The group of 16 animals is now a big attraction for the park, climbing and jumping on visitors during feeding times. All three species of lemurs are living peacefully together in a 6,000-m2 wooded area.
Conservation through education is the principal goal of the park. Although people will read the information panels that have been placed in all the territories, the natural social groups of free-ranging primates and the direct contact with the keepers have a much larger impact on the visitors. Keepers are present in the territories all day long to control both primates and visitors, but their major task is to give the visitors information. Questions will be answered, but the keepers also react spontaneously to conversations between visitors. All species have regular feeding times, during which keepers give talks on their animals and discuss various conservation topics.
On their way to the gorilla island the visitors pass a children's zoo, an island with siamangs and a small restaurant. The gorillas share their island with a group of eastern black-and-white colobus. Next to them, a small island has been made for pygmy marmosets. The birth of our first gorilla was one of the highlights in the park's short history. The father of the youngster is only 16 years old, but has already lived in six different zoos. He was said to be incompatible with females, but has proved to be a perfect male at La Vallée des Singes. The mother is a 29-year-old wild-born female whom we received from Leipzig Zoo. Fourteen years ago she gave birth to her first baby, which died two weeks later due to infanticide. She never gave birth again until 27 September 1999, when a healthy male was born. A 16-year-old captive-born female arrived in November 1999, and was pregnant within three months. A third, 29-year-old wild-born female has regular cycles and has been mated by the male, but no pregnancy has been detected so far. The gorilla house was constructed on the same lines as the one at Apenheul. Five rooms have been built around a viewing area for the visitors. The floors of three rooms were covered with 50-cm deep biosubstrate (pine-tree bark), but as the gorillas did not like to walk on it, a 10-cm layer of straw was successfully added. The island covers about 4,000 m2. The gorillas have full access to the many aged oaks on the island, and the females may climb up to 15 metres high to obtain some tasty leaves.
The last territory is perhaps the most spectacular in the park. A group of over 20 tufted capuchins share this large wooded area with white-faced sakis, common marmosets and golden lion tamarins. Due to the fact that they are very active throughout the day, the capuchins are many visitors' favourites. These attractive animals are probably subspecific hybrids, so they may not have any conservation value, but they serve as perfect ambassadors for other, endangered primates. On several islands around this area there are woolly monkeys, emperor tamarins and white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth hybridus). Woolly monkeys are still very difficult to keep, but the births of two babies (a male in 1998 and a female in 1999) help us to keep up our spirits. Much attention is being paid to the diet and husbandry of this beautiful species. Partly due to the fact that some new groups of white- bellied spider monkeys have been formed in European zoos, the programme for this endangered subspecies may be upgraded to an EEP. Successful breeding groups are kept at Twycross and Stuttgart, and both these zoos decided to transfer animals to us to start a new breeding group. A male was born in May 2000, while another female may be pregnant. The two other European zoos that have breeding groups are Barcelona, where two babies have already been born this year, and Hodenhagen, where several females are thought to be pregnant.
During the two years of its existence, La Vallée des Singes has not only had some interesting zoological successes, but also proved to be popular with tourists in France. The park is closed in the winter, but in its first complete season in 1999 almost 150,000 visitors passed the gates. More than ten hectares are available for future extensions, and this year we will construct an exhibit of over 2,000 m2 for mandrills, colobus monkeys and guenons. Although primates will be the primary focus of the park, other animals will be added to make the visit more varied and to show the visitors the diversity of life. Currently we hold about 200 animals of 20 different species.
The natural environment and the large social groups have made La Vallée des Singes an interesting park for behavioural studies, several of which by French students have already been conducted, or have been planned for this year, while foreign universities are also showing interest in cooperation. We would like to invite any student or research worker who might be interested in doing a study at La Vallée des Singes to contact us.
We look forward to welcoming many of you!
I would like to thank Wim Mager for his useful comments on the manuscript.
Jan Vermeer, La Vallée des Singes, Le Gureau, 86700 Romagne, France.
NON-INVASIVE MONITORING OF OVARIAN FUNCTION AND PREGNANCY IN PALLAS'S CATS BY MEANS OF FAECAL STEROIDS
BY ELENA Y. TKACHEVA, OLGA B. LIFANOVA AND IRINA A. ALEKSEICHEVA
Assessing reproductive status is important in the effective management of captive wildlife species. It is needed to provide specific guidelines for culling, mating or separation, and is also useful for forecasting the success or failure of a breeding group. Because repeated capture, restraint, and blood sampling are impractical strategies for monitoring reproductive status in wildlife species, non-invasive methods for tracking reproductive activity have become increasingly important. Monitoring reproduction in animals using faecal and urinary steroid metabolites is one of the most promising (Brown and Wildt, 1997; Heistermann et al., 1995). Patterns of hormone secretion in female mammals can be used to detect or characterise physiological events and to diagnose the specific reproductive dysfunctions (Lasley and Kirkpatrick, 1991). For Felidae species, Shille et al. (1984; 1990) reported that 95% of progesterone metabolites and oestradiol were excreted with faeces. Other authors (Brown et al., 1995; Graham et al., 1995) reported also that excretion dynamics of these hormones in some felids (for example, clouded leopard, tiger, lion and snow leopard) correlated with behavioural activity during reproduction.
Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul) is a rare endangered Red Book species, indigenous to Central Asia, including deserts, steppes and highlands of Russia, Mongolia and north-west China. This animal's endangered status and limited distribution, together with its extremely silent and secretive habits, make non-invasive biochemical methods especially important for tracking reproductive activity in the species. Other markers of receptivity or pregnancy sounds, movements are often uninformative. In this study we used radioimmunoassay (RIA) and enzyme immunoassay (EIA) analysis of faecal progesterone and oestradiol for monitoring ovarian function and pregnancy in Pallas's cats, managed in Moscow Zoo, Russia.
Material and methods
The three adult Pallas's cat females (two-year-old Female 1, without birth experience, Female 2 of unknown age, who had not given birth in Moscow Zoo, and Female 3 of unknown age, who had given birth one year before the research began) were housed with wild-born males throughout the whole breeding period. All the males had sired kittens previously.
All the animals were housed in open-air enclosures under natural light regimes. Their diet consisted of meat and freshly-killed rats. Water was provided ad libitum.
2. Sample collection
Because the cats were housed in pairs, separation of females' and males' faeces was difficult. But so long as the purpose of our research consisted in monitoring reproductive states, we were interested much more in endocrine dynamics than in estimating the absolute quantities of different hormones excreted by a female. So we used diurnal pair faecal samples to estimate faecal steroid dynamics in pairs of Pallas's cats. Because cyclic oestrogen secretion is absent in males (Vunder, 1980), we supposed that males' faecal hormonal levels would have no significant effect on the dynamic patterns of the metabolite profiles, and that the profiles would primarily reflect changes in the females' hormonal excretion. From 22.01.97 to 25.03.97 (Pair 1), from 22.01.97 to 11.03.97 (Pair 2) and from 26.01.98 to 05.04.98 (Pair 3) we collected all faeces of a pair daily from two to seven times a week. On other days during the research period faeces were cleaned up by the keepers. Twenty-one samples were collected from Pair 1, 16 from Pair 2, and 19 from Pair 3. The samples were stored at 18° C in plastic bags until analysis. We measured oestradiol excretion in ng/24 hours per pair, and progesterone excretion in μg/24 hours per pair.
3. Faecal extraction
Before extraction, diurnal pair faecal samples were dried at 35° C and powdered. Abundant residues of rat fur and bones were separated from faeces mechanically. Each dried sample was uniformly intermixed to exclude mistakes when aliquots of samples were taken.
We applied two methods of faecal extraction: the first, described by Bujalska et al. (1994), for Pairs 1 and 2; and the second, described by Brown et al. (1995), for Pair 3.
In Method 1, 0.2 g of powdered, dried and intermixed sample was weighed and diluted in a glass tube in 4 ml of 0.1 M assay buffer (0.02 M NaH2PO4, 0.08 M Na2HPO4, 0.14 M NaCl, pH 7.27.4). After homogenization in buffer and centrifugation (2,500g for ten minutes at room temperature), the supernatant was decanted into a glass tube and then frozen until analysing. Before analysis the thawed supernatant was extracted with diethyl ether as follows: 100 μl of the supernatant (for progesterone extraction) or 50 μl of the supernatant (for oestradiol extraction) diluted in 50 μl of 0.1 M assay buffer were diluted in glass tubes in 1 ml of diethyl ether by energetic shaking for one minute. After that the ether fraction was separated and used for RIAs.
In Method 2, 0.2 g of powdered, dried and intermixed sample was weighed and diluted in a glass tube in 5 ml of 90% ethanol. After homogenization and centrifugation (2,500g for 15 minutes at room temperature), the supernatant was decanted into a glass tube. An additional 5 ml of the same percentage of ethanol was added to the powder, vortexed thoroughly, centrifuged at 2,500g for 15 minutes at room temperature, and the supernatant added to the tube with the already decanted supernatant. The combined supernatant was dried and resuspended in exactly 1 ml 90% ethanol before analysis by EIA.
4. RIAs and EIAs
The RIAs were made in collaboration with the Scientific Endocrinology Centre (Moscow, Russia), using the Centre's equipment, reagents and technologies.
The EIAs were made in collaboration with the Scientific Oncology Centre (Moscow, Russia), using the Centre's equipment, reagents and technologies.
Pair 1 gave birth to seven kittens on 31 March 1997, six days after the last faecal sample collection (Fig. 1). Collection of faecal samples was stopped just before Female 1's parturition to exclude her possible stressing. Pair 2 failed to breed during the study period (Fig. 2).
The sample collection from Pair 3 was made in 1998, and then EIA analysis was applied (Fig. 3). Female 3 gave birth to five kittens on 15 April 1998.
Background oestradiol level did not exceed 150200 ng/24 hours per pair in any of the three pairs. Maximum oestradiol level in Pair 2 with non-pregnant Female 2 was 300360 ng/24 hours per pair; altogether, three oestradiol peaks at 13- and 14-day intervals were registered during the study period (Fig. 2).
In Pair 3 a prominent oestradiol peak of 5,450 ng/24 hours per pair was found before Female 3's ovulation. During the second half of Female 3's pregnancy an increase of the oestradiol level up to 4,280 ng/24 hours per pair was noticed (Fig. 3). In Pair 1, a similar increase in the oestradiol secretion level was found during the second half of Female 1's pregnancy (Fig. 1). The maximum oestradiol level found in Pair 1 was 3,628 ng/24 hours per pair.
Background progesterone level did not exceed 10 μg/24 hours per pair in any of the three pairs. In pairs with pregnant females, maximum progesterone levels reached 32 μg/24 hours per pair (Pair 1, Fig. 1) and 15 μg/24 hours per pair (Pair 3, Fig. 3). Also, Pair 3 showed an ovulation-related progesterone peak of 53.5 μg/24 hours per pair (Fig. 3).
Both the faecal extraction methods used in this research (diethyl ether extraction coupled with RIA analysis and 90% ethanol extraction coupled with EIA analysis) showed similar results with the oestradiol and progesterone dynamics in Pairs 1 and 3 throughout the females' pregnancy (Fig. 1 and 3).
Although the cats' hormonal dynamics were assessed here for pairs (based on joint male/female hormonal levels), both the background and peak oestradiol levels shown in our study were close to values reported for pregnant females singly in other Felidae species (Brown et al., 1994; Graham et al., 1995). Thus, the oestradiol levels in pregnant tiger, lion, snow leopard and cheetah females (Graham et al., 1995) ranged between 115 and 200 ng/g of faeces, whereas our values for pairs with pregnant Pallas's cat females showed an average value of 135 ng/g of faeces. Therefore, it appears that in Pallas's cats the males' oestradiol excretion does not conceal the peak oestradiol values in pregnant females. So high oestradiol peaks were found in both pairs (1 and 3) where females were pregnant (Fig. 13), but in Pair 2, where Female 2 was non-pregnant, no high oestradiol peaks was found. The data suggest that oestradiol increase may serve as an indicator of pregnancy in the species, and that separation of male and female diurnal faecal samples is not necessary for monitoring ovarian function and pregnancy in pairs of Pallas's cats in captivity.
The high oestradiol peak in the second half of pregnancy is not universal among Felidae species (Brown et al., 1994, 1995; Graham et al., 1995). In leopard cat (Felis bengalensis) and clouded leopard (Brown et al., 1994, 1995) females, oestradiol levels during that period may not exceed background levels characteristic for the species, but in other species they may be considerably higher, as in cheetah (Brown et al., 1994) or tiger (Graham et al., 1995) females. According to our data, Pallas's cats showed a pattern similar to the last two species.
Pregnancy duration as measured in our study, based on the first progesterone peak, was 5860 days, two weeks shorter than the pregnancy period of 75 days reported by Schauenberg (1978).
Accordingly to Brown et al. (1994), in most Felidae species overall oestradiol quantities excreted with faeces are in a free, unconjugated form, in comparison with progesterone, which is excreted in the form of various, mainly conjugated metabolites. The authors reported maximum gestagen values of 87 μg/g of dried faeces for the clouded leopard and 37 μg/g of dried faeces for the snow leopard (Brown et al., 1994). We found much lower progesterone values for pairs with pregnant females about 6 μg/g of dried faeces. It appears that in Pallas's cat, as in other Felidae species, progesterone is excreted in metabolite forms that cannot be revealed with the antiserum progesterone that was used in this study. But, in practice, detection of the free progesterone peak only (without that of metabolites), which reaches the value of 6 μg/g of dried faeces (= 40 μg/24 hours per pair), gives a reliable indication of pregnancy in Pallas's cats in captivity.
We thank V.I. Evsikov, M.P. Moshkin, and Zavialova for consultations; N.P. Goncharov and T.N. Todua for help with RIA; N.E. Kuschlinsky and N.V. Lubimova for help with EIA; A. Pavlova for help with faecal sample collection and consultations.
Brown, J.L., Wasser, S.K., Wildt, D.E., and Graham, L.H. (1994): Comparative aspects of steroid hormone metabolism and ovarian activity in felids, measured noninvasively in feces. Biology of Reproduction 51: 776786.
Brown, J.L., Wildt, D.E., Graham, L.H., Byers, A.P., Collins, L., Barrett, S., and Howard, J. (1995): Natural versus chorionic gonadotropin-induced ovarian responses in the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) assessed by fecal steroid analysis. Biology of Reproduction 53: 93102.
Brown, J.L., and Wildt, D.E. (1997): Assessing reproductive status in wild felids by noninvasive faecal steroid monitoring. International Zoo Yearbook 35: 173191.
Bujalska, G., Evsikov, V., Gerlinskaja, L., Grika, L., Grüm, L., and Moshkin, M. (1994): Adrenocortical variability in the life history of bank voles. Polish Ecological Studies 20: 305310.
Graham, L.H., Goodrowe, K.L., Raeside, J.I., and Liptrap, R.M. (1995): Non-invasive monitoring of ovarian function in several felid species by measurement of fecal estradiol-17β and progestins. Zoo Biology 14: 223237.
Graham, L.H., Raeside, J.I., Goodrowe, K.L., and Liptrap, R.M. (1993): Measurements of faecal oestradiol and progesterone in non-pregnant and pregnant domestic and exotic cats. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 47 (supplement): 119120.
Heistermann, M., Möstl, E., and Hodges, J.K. (1995): Non-invasive endocrine monitoring of female reproductive status: Methods and applications to captive breeding and conservation of exotic species. In Research and Captive Propagation (eds. U. Ganslosser, J.K. Hodges and W. Kaumanns), pp. 3648.
Lasley, B.L., and Kirkpatrick, J.F. (1991): Monitoring ovarian function in captive and free-ranging wildlife by means of urinary and faecal steroids. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 22: 2331.
Schauenberg, P. (1978): Note sur la reproduction du manul, Otocolobus manul (Pallas, 1776). Mammalia 2: 135140.
Shille, V.M., Haggerty, M.A., Shackleton, C., and Lasley, B.L. (1990): Metabolites of estradiol in serum, bile, intestine and feces of the domestic cat (Felis catus). Theriogenology 34: 779794.
Shille, V.M., Wing, A.E., Lasley, B.L., and Banks, J.A. (1984): Excretion of radiolabeled estradiol in the cat (Felis catus, L.): a preliminary report. Zoo Biology 3: 201209.
Vunder, P.A. (1980): Sex endocrinology. Nauka Press, Moscow. (In Russian.)
Elena Y. Tkacheva, Olga B. Lifanova and Irina A. Alekseicheva, Moscow Zoo. Address for correspondence: Elena Y. Tkacheva, Moscow Zoo, Scientific Research Department, Bolshaya Gruzinskaya Str. 1, Moscow 123242, Russia E-mail: email@example.com .
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Robert Wrigley's guest editorial (I.Z.N. 47:4, pp. 210214) firmly lays the blame for the world's problems on the burgeoning human population, and argues that population control `in the long term . . . is the only factor that really counts.'
I despair for the future of our planet if the only thing that can really save it is human population control. The population issue is one that will undoubtedly upset some religious and cultural groups, and the enforced population control which was practised in China is just one example of how the population issue is a political and social hot potato.
However, even if the world's population stood still (or even shrank), the most serious issue is not numbers, but consumption and impact. In blunt terms, the planet cannot afford any more North Americans, but can, for example, easily support millions more Africans and Asians! The truth is, the average North American consumes eight times as much energy as the average inhabitant of the rest of the world. The figures for consumption of food and materials are just as worrying. Europeans are also huge consumers, and the developed nations together have at least 20 times the impact per person of the `undeveloped' ones.
If `Western' developed people were able to live more in harmony with nature, and the distribution of wealth and resources was much fairer, then many of the serious long-term environmental problems could be realistically addressed.
Robert asks, `What can one individual do to help?' Having fewer children is an option. Far more impact would be achieved, however, if, for example, everyone turned electrical items like TVs off instead of putting them on stand-by (in the U.K. this would save the output of one power station a year); reducing consumption of fuel by using cars less and turning down the heating; buying goods that have little or no packaging, and pressurising suppliers to minimise packaging; reducing waste production and increasing recycling; responsible purchasing finding out where goods come from and buying sustainably; putting pressure on multi-national corporations and governments to apply the same standards all over the world, and not treating half the planet as the `third world' where people can be poorly paid and waste dumped. . .
Population is easy to blame, and as most developed nations have a low population increase (or are stable), it points the finger directly at the poorer developing nations. Consumption, however, strikes at the very heart of Western life, and perhaps that is why it doesn't get the attention it deserves, as it requires us to adapt our lifestyles and take responsibility ourselves!
Stephen P. Woollard,
Assistant Head of Education,
Bristol Zoo Gardens,
Bristol BS8 3HA, U.K.
I was saddened by the news I received yesterday (28/6/2000) of the death of John Aspinall. I will always remember him as the man who without hesitation joined me in the straw and started playing with the young gorillas in a dealer's yard, all those years ago in August 1969 a thing I suspect no other zoo owner or director would have done. Two months later I was to become one of three keepers at Howletts. He did not consider me to be crazy for living and sleeping with these animals; these to him were normal human/animal relations.
He will long be remembered as a man with a different point of view, one not everyone could share, but nevertheless one which proved very successful over the years. He showed the world at large that by mutual respect and, above all, understanding, the animals you cared for became more than just exhibits. He was also the only zoo owner/director I have ever worked with who took a daily interest in his animals.
He will be missed, not only by the many animals he sincerely loved and had close contact with, but also by the many admirers he collected around him during his lifetime. May his spirit rest among the spirits of his beloved animals.
P.O. Box 64 / Code 111,
C.P.O. Seeb International Airport,
Sultanate of Oman.
I read Michelle Povada's recent article on `The use of a social primate in public demonstrations' (I.Z.N. 47:2, pp. 95103) with interest, and agreed with much of what she said on the topic. However, I felt that I should clarify a few points which seemed to me to be misleading. To the best of my knowledge Dana, the black-and-white ruffed lemur obtained from Banham Zoo, was acquired with the sole intention of using her for the `educational demonstrations being set up at that time.'
Although the use of genetically over-represented animals for educational purposes may be both feasible and acceptable, this lemur was not such an animal. Had Z.S.L. not offered her a good home, it is likely that we would have attempted to pair her with a young male. It is often difficult to integrate hand-reared primates with their own kind, but it is by no means impossible. This animal was not produced irresponsibly, and was not an animal `of no genetic use.'
However, Dana plays a part in one of the best demonstrations of its type that I have seen, and it is pleasing that she has probably had a greater impact on the minds of the public than she would ever have done in a breeding programme. Perhaps we should be honest and say that the educational value of such demonstrations justifies using some animals for the purpose.
Zoo Animal Manager,
Banham Zoo & Suffolk Wildlife Park,
Norfolk NR16 2HE, U.K.
YEAR OF JANUS by C.H. Keeling. Clam Publications, 2000. ISBN 1874795193. Available only direct from the author, C.H. Keeling, 13 Pound Place, Shalford, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8HH, U.K. Cheques/
postal orders to be payable to C.H. Keeling. Price, post paid, £12 (U.K.) or £14 (overseas, sterling only, please).
The incompetence of the superintendent, Clarence Bartlett; the severe state of disrepair of the zoo; falling popularity with the public. These are the three main factors which received wisdom has passed down to us as lying behind the appointment of the Committee of Reorganisation at London Zoo in 1901. It was two years after this that the dust finally settled and Peter (later Sir Peter) Chalmers-Mitchell found himself as Secretary of the Zoological Society of London following the only ever rejection (to date) by the Fellowship of their Council's recommendation for the occupancy of that post. (William Sclater, son of the outgoing Secretary, the famous Philip Lutley Sclater who had held the post since 1859, was the spurned candidate.)
When Clin Keeling began writing Year of Janus he had no reason to question the basic veracity of the three aforementioned factors. His purpose, as it was exactly one hundred years ago that the events took place, was to re-examine what had actually been going on at London Zoo, in the year prior to the appointment of the Committee of Reorganisation, to make its creation necessary. What he discovered caused him to doubt the importance of two of the factors and the total validity of the third. It also caused him to question the intentions and purposes of a well-known zoological figure of the time.
Year of Janus is divided into two parts. In the first Keeling summarises in some detail (if that is not a contradiction in terms) his findings as to what happened at London Zoo in 1900, just about all of them gleaned from the pages of the zoo's Daily Occurrences book for that year. In the second he presents his conclusions in the form of an imagined lecture to an imaginary zoological society, the National Zoological Bureau.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, the Daily Occurrences books were the volumes within which the happenings at the London Zoo were recorded from day to day. Animal arrivals, departures, births and deaths; visitor numbers and gate receipts; weather conditions and maintenance tasks undertaken this is the sort of information that was recorded in varying degrees of legibility from the earliest beginnings of the zoo until the 1960s. The choice of the 1900 book as virtually the sole research tool is both the greatest strength and weakness of this book. On the strength side is its sheer objectivity. The details set out in the Daily Occurrences book are uncontaminated by any leaning in favour (or disfavour) of any particular person or faction. Keeling leads us through the book on a week-by-week basis, so we learn, for example, that there was `prolonged rain' during the final week of May and that one E. Hewens of 44 Ladywell Road, Lewisham, London SE, presented the zoo with a `common paradoxure' which the author elsewhere informs us was the old name for a palm civet. (When private individuals make donations to the zoo of exotic animals in this way, I often wonder if any family members still reside at the address given, and if there is a tale to be told as to how they acquired the creature in the first place.) Numerous snippets of this sort are vouchsafed to us. The problem with this style of presentation is that it can be something of a soporific read. Whilst the information is fascinating to those interested in the topic and, to be fair, if you weren't interested I doubt whether you would be reading Year of Janus in the first place what you are presented with is in fact a glorified list.
The second part of the book, where Clin Keeling imagines himself presenting his conclusions to the `National Zoological Bureau', will not be to everyone's taste, particularly, I suspect, because he introduces the ghostly shades of some of the characters we have encountered earlier during our trawl through the Daily Occurrences book. Without doubt this style of presentation is self-indulgent, but I found it did serve a useful purpose. When speaking or lecturing, Clin Keeling has his own distinctive style, and by imagining the speech patterns as his conclusions were presented to his invented audience, I found that the emphasis on certain important points became clearer.
So what is Keeling's final judgement on what he found in the Daily Occurrences, particularly with regard to those factors stated at the beginning of this review? Well, as with all things of this nature, the answer is very little which is cut and dried, or which can stand on its own without an entanglement with something else. Let's do the easy bit first: based on the evidence provided by the 1900 book namely, the number of visitors coming into the gardens and the number of Fellows of the Society the claim that the zoo was waning in popularity with the public does not stand up. That year saw the seventh highest number of visitors in the zoo's then 72-year history, and the number of Fellows had only twice been at a higher level.
The charge of incompetence against Bartlett is more difficult to assess, not least because due to illness he was hardly at the zoo during 1900. It must therefore be assumed that this charge was levelled on the basis of evidence gathered not from 1900 but from the years preceding. What we do know is that the death rate among the animal inhabitants of the zoo in 1900 was horrendous, although admittedly many were of animals which had either newly arrived in the collection (the Daily Occurrences books did not record the state of health of animals when they first got to the zoo) or for whom the necessary apparatus and techniques for successful keeping have only recently been refined. Weekly death rates of 25 to 30 animals of all sorts were the norm, whilst on at least one occasion there were 44 deaths. Over 600 reptiles alone, the majority deposited by the Hon. Walter Rothschild, died at Regent's Park in 1900.
The choice of foodstuffs and housing conditions were obviously contributory factors. The Small Mammal House was a particular target of the Committee of Reorganisation, whilst the Parrot House of the time boasted no outside aviaries and seems to have been designed in such a way as to exclude the maximum amount of light possible. Whilst dietary matters would have fallen within Bartlett's area of responsibility, it is doubtful if he would have had any choice in the matter of accommodation beyond getting on with what he had. Whilst he may well have been able to make representations or recommendations to his superiors, he certainly would not have been able to order the replacement of any building he considered unsatisfactory. Unfortunately Year of Janus doesn't tell us whether he did make such approaches, but it is quite possible that the charges of incompetence against him were made to deflect attention away from those who were really responsible.
Another significant factor contributing to the high mortality rate was the lack of attention the keeping staff were able to give to their charges. With over 2,850 animals in the collection as 1900 ended, Clin Keeling points out that each keeper would have been responsible for on average 72 animals. This was simply too many. Regularly in his summary of the Daily Occurrences, Clin mentions maintenance staff being seconded to assist the animal keepers in certain aspects of their duties. Various items of repair work which seem to be quite trivial appear time and time again in the list of maintenance work in progress. It seems that if the zoo did appear to be in a poor state of repair, it was not because of lack of care or effort to do something about it it was because the workmen were continually being hauled off to assist the animal keeping staff.
One name which crops up constantly in Year of Janus is that of Walter Rothschild, founder of the Natural History Museum at Tring. Repeatedly we are presented with lists of animals, reptiles and amphibians in the main, which he has placed on deposit at London Zoo. Too frequently these animals die in time to appear in the following list of animal deaths. As he continued to deposit these creatures and as they continued to die with amazing alacrity, it is hard not to feel that Rothschild didn't care what happened to them, and equally easy to suspect that he sent them to Regent's Park because he wanted them `bumped off' so that they could become exhibits in his museum all the sooner. Why should these animals have been able to survive their difficult and harsh journeys to London Zoo, yet die so soon after arriving in what should have been a much more benign environment? A little odd at least, wouldn't you say?
The problem with the Rothschild question, as with so much other subject matter of Year of Janus, is that the only research source is the Daily Occurrences book for the year. Whilst this undoubtedly provides enough evidence to suggest that the causes behind the setting up of the Committee of Reorganisation and the subsequent turmoil are far from being as clear-cut as has generally been thought, the nature of the Daily Occurrences book necessarily means that many questions remain unanswered or unclarified. Was there any correspondence between Rothschild and the Z.S.L. regarding the deaths of his animals? Indeed, was London Zoo in cahoots with Rothschild and acting as his unofficial abattoir? Did Clarence Bartlett raise any questions regarding the suitability of some of the animal housing? Was he incompetent or just a scapegoat? What were the views of Council, and what schemes were other Fellows concocting?
Overall, this is not a bad book. Clin Keeling causes us to question accepted wisdom, and that can't be such a bad thing. The first section is a difficult read; being written in the way it is, it is difficult to see how it could be anything else. The second, `fantasy', section, as I said, isn't to all tastes. Some people have told me it took them a while to realise that it was a fantasy. Whilst they may have meant that as a criticism, I feel the author should take it as some sort of compliment. Personally I quite enjoyed it it made a change from the style of `po-faced' worthiness some authors consider to be obligatory. Year of Janus is not without its faults. It leaves a number of questions unanswered about what was going on at London Zoo and the Z.S.L. in the first few years of the 20th century, as well as opening up once more questions which had been thought answered. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is a book best considered to be the end of the beginning of its subject, rather than the beginning of its end.
RESOURCES FOR CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN ZOOS AND OTHER ANIMAL CARE FACILITIES edited by Susan D. Chan, William K. Baker and Diana L. Guerrero. American Association of Zoo Keepers, 1999. v + 415 pp., paperback. ISBN 1929672020. $45.00 (AAZK members) or $60.00 (non-members), including domestic postage (for orders outside continental U.S.A., please add $8.00 for surface shipping).
Reading Bob Lawrence's book My Wild Life (reviewed below) reminded me of just some of the things that can go wrong in a wild animal facility. Taking a pessimistic or perhaps simply realistic view, every zoo, all the time, is a crisis just waiting to happen. The subject is one all zoo people have thought about, and all zoos, presumably, have made contingency plans for to a greater or lesser extent. Innumerable articles on its various aspects have been published in the zoo press, most notably William K. Baker's long-running series in Animal Keepers' Forum. But as far as I know the present work, of which Mr Baker is a co-editor, is the first to cover the whole field in a single volume.
The editors of Resources for Crisis Management in Zoos and Other Animal Care Facilities have assembled an impressive variety of articles, some reprinted and some specially written, from a total of 56 contributors. Wisely, they have taken the widest possible definition of what constitutes a crisis including, for example, several pieces on coping with the death of an animal. This, though a regular and inevitable zoo event, can in some cases be a traumatic experience for staff and even, sometimes, the public. Not the least part of coping with animal deaths, as with many other crises, is the public relations aspect. Zoos are always newsworthy, and never more so than when something goes wrong. And the `vultures', as San Diego's PR Director here describes the animal rights lobby, will soon be circling overhead. Even in that archetypal zoo crisis, the escape of a potentially dangerous animal, the zoo is probably at greater risk from bad publicity than from the animal itself. The best advice seems to be, `Get in first.' Don't wait for news to leak out, above all don't try to cover up; control the story by releasing your information before the rumour-factory has time to start work. And it helps to have a regular press liaison person already in place.
When an animal does escape, circumstances may sometimes leave the management with no alternative but to kill it (as happened recently following the release of four polar bears in a German zoo). So every zoo needs to have suitable firearms and people qualified to use them. The book has advice on this; ironically, the writings of professional hunters find a legitimate use here, since they know where on the body of each species is the best place to aim for to ensure an instant kill.
But animal escapes form only a small part of the subject-matter of Resources for Crisis Management. A useful section discusses catching, immobilising and identifying animals. A technique new to me is described by the late Richard Beyer, formerly of Burnet Park Zoo, Syracuse, New York; this is the use of night lighting to disorient and immobilise animals for capture. It is highly effective for many birds, but at Burnet Park was found useful also with mammals not so much for direct capture, but as a means of approaching closely enough to make darting easy.
Zoos carry other potential dangers. Bruce Clark, director of Roger Williams Park Zoo, Rhode Island, contributes an article on zoonotic diseases (no, I don't know how to pronounce it, either), i.e. diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans. In North America, about 150 of these are thought to occur frequently enough to warrant concern, though studies reported by Clark suggest that this risk ranks fairly low among the problems zoos have to face. (Perhaps keepers tend to develop immunity?) Disease organisms spreading from one animal species to another are a commoner hazard; there are case studies here of an encephalomyocarditis virus outbreak at Dallas Zoo (concentrating mainly on how the media coverage was handled) and a series of Salmonella infections at Denver Zoo.
The examples I have mentioned so far are of the sort of crisis that can happen any time at any zoo. Some of the others described in the book are fortunately less universal. The spread of aggressive `Africanized honeybees' into the United States is a horror story which should make European readers count their blessings. Hurricanes like the one that devastated Miami Metrozoo in 1992 are another disaster we in Europe need only read about. Mike Sulak describes San Francisco Zoo's emergency response plan for earthquakes, something that all coastal Californian zoos presumably have to be prepared for. And Mark de Denus relates how Assiniboine Park Zoo survived an appalling blizzard with no animal losses and astonishingly little damage to equipment or systems. This zoo's location makes severe winter conditions predictable it is `possibly the coldest major zoo in the world' so, again, plans have to be in place ready for the crisis that, sooner or later, is bound to come.
Indeed, if the theme of this book had to be summed up in one word, it would be Preparedness. The only totally predictable thing about crises is that they will happen. Every zoo needs emergency planning, and all zoo staff need to be trained in the roles they will have in a crisis. Perhaps every good zoo has these things sorted out already. But any zoo which doesn't have anything to learn from Resources for Crisis Management must be a very good zoo indeed.
MY WILD LIFE by Bob Lawrence. Bayton Books, 2000. 304 pp., hardback. ISBN 0953799905. Available from the publishers (P.O. Box 2049, Kidderminster, DY14 9GY, U.K.), price £14.95 (plus £1.50 postage and packing).
Bob Lawrence's prospects did not look good when, in 1973, he applied for a job at the newly-opened West Midland Safari Park in Bewdley, Worcestershire. His studies at an agricultural college had been interrupted by a serious spinal injury, he had been unemployed for months, and it seemed quite likely that he would spend the rest of his life on disability benefit. Also, he had never visited a zoo. My Wild Life tells the extraordinary story of how he worked his way up to become head warden of the park and a respected member of the profession he had stumbled into by accident. Extraordinary, but not unique although some people in the zoo business are there because it's the only thing they ever wanted to do, a surprising number including some of the very best came into it more or less by chance, and only later discovered that it was what they had come into the world to do. But not many of them go on to write a book about it, and those that do seldom make as good a job of it as Bob Lawrence has done.
Since Bob was with it virtually from the start, My Wild Life is also the story of the West Midland Safari Park. At first, the Park's prospects must have seemed hardly more rosy than his own. Since the `Lions of Longleat' started the fashion in 1966, a number of other safari parks had opened in Britain, and by 1973 the boom years were over. In retrospect, it is remarkable that Bewdley survived, especially since it was in the hands of absentee American proprietors interested only in profits but with no clear idea of how to achieve them. Some of Bob's stories of how the park was in its early years are scarcely credible. Giraffes and elephants destroyed the ancient trees in the parkland originally landscaped by Capability Brown. The staffing ratio was high, but largely to offset the primitive facilities for example, there was no piped water in the animal enclosures, so drinking water had to be carried in dustbins on a trailer. Animals in Pets Corner were shot and fed to the lions. Inadequate fencing led to many escapes, most notably by the baboons. In the drive-through enclosures, the public `seemed incapable of understanding the essential prerequisite for safety', not realising, for example, that a quarter-inch gap in a window was quite large enough for a bear to insert a claw and pull out the glass. (For some visitors, the fact that the Hindi text on a multilingual warning sign read `Keep your windows open!' can't have helped.)
If the park was to survive, things could only get better, and they finally did. Starting in 1976, the entire concern got the major overhaul it needed, and by the following year it became the first safari park to be admitted as a member of the British Zoo Federation. From then on, Bob Lawrence's story becomes that of a senior worker in a mainstream animal collection. But his subsequent career cannot be described as uneventful. Besides the predictable tribulations of escapes, international animal transport, rescue and rehabilitation, veterinary crises, and the problems and joys of husbandry, there are numbers of `one-off' disasters (though perhaps these are predictable, too, in any zoo), like the time when a woman who, as her prize in a local `Grant a Wish' competition, had chosen to meet a lion, was nearly killed by a hand-reared juvenile lioness. Bob saved the woman's life by seizing the animal's tongue and not letting go until she did; and the whole episode was caught on camera by two press photographers who were there to record the `prize-giving'.
My Wild Life is beautifully produced, with over 200 photos (including two of the struggle with the lioness), many in colour and some of the best taken by the author. Many of these are delightful evocations of everyday zoo life, and some are of real zoological interest for example, one showing a wapiti eating a rabbit. (I had never heard of such behaviour before, but perhaps this merely reveals my ignorance, for apparently it is not uncommon at Bewdley and, presumably, elsewhere?) If I have one adverse criticism to make, it is that I would have liked an index; without it, checking back on specific items in the text is a time-consuming task. But it is, of course, a compliment to any book to say that it deserves an index. . .
PENGUINS A WORLDWIDE GUIDE by Rémy Marion, illustrated by Sylviane Maigret-Mond. Sterling Publishing Inc., 1999 (distributed in U.K. and Europe by Cassell). 155 pp., hardback. ISBN 0806942320. £14.99.
Browsing round the local bookstore with no real intention of buying a book, I spotted this slim volume, and after the most cursory of glances decided to purchase what turned out to be a little gem of a book. Rémy Marion, the author, has worked as a wildlife guide in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and has lectured on cruises and at the Oceanographic Institute in Paris. He is also no mean photographer, and the book is lavishly illustrated with colour photos, representing all 17 species of this unique and fascinating family of birds.
Concise but informative details are given for each species; in addition to a full description of the bird's plumage as adult, immature and chick, such subjects as breeding and rearing, foraging and diet, range, conservation status and population are covered. The descriptive pages display superb paintings of the head of each species, while at the back of the book are comparative black-and-white drawings of the heads, together with line drawings of 16 selected prey species.
This book, however, is not just a field guide; the whole gamut of penguin existence is included. There are interesting chapters not only on such topics as origins and evolution which one would expect in a study of a single family of birds but also on Penguins and People a 6,000-Year History, The Massive Exploitation of Penguins, An Introduction to Austral Oceanography, and even one on Tussock Grass.
From a conservation point of view, it is heartening to read that some species are surviving and even increasing in healthy numbers. For example, the calculated figure for Adélies in 1991 was 2.5 million, and for royal penguins 848,700 breeding pairs (on Macquarie Island in 1985), recovering from near-extinction in the 19th century. Macaroni penguins are at a reassuring 9,400,000 pairs. But figures for some other species make depressing reading rockhoppers are down from 1,629,000 in the early 1940s to 103,100, and Africans down to 120,000 (in 1992 probably considerably fewer now) from more than a million in 1930.
Whilst in recent years large sums of money have been spent by zoological gardens, for example Marwell and Loro Parque, on superb exhibits for penguins, the species commonly on view are effectively restricted to five or six. In over 50 years of zoo visiting I have managed to see only seven at most. Though they are far from being the easiest birds to keep and breed, it would be exciting to see some of the remaining ten.
As the book was originally published in France in 1995 and only translated into English in 1999, there may have been some changes to the population figures quoted, and for a specialist deeply into penguins this Worldwide Guide might prove to be somewhat light reading; however, for a keen but unqualified zoo enthusiast like myself, or anyone wishing to learn more about this interesting family of birds, this book is a reasonably-priced treasure.
Anticoagulant-resistant rats a potential threat to zoos?
I have recently received some information (John Lane, pers. comm.) on the alarming spread in Europe of anticoagulant-resistant rats; my informant suggests that this is a problem to which zoos need to pay some attention. Briefly, the facts are as follows. For some decades the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) was controlled fairly successfully by the use of anticoagulant poisons, of which warfarin is the best-known. But by the 1960s or early 1970s populations of rats resistant to warfarin and similar `first-generation' anticoagulants began to be discovered in various European countries, and also in the U.S.A. A second generation of anticoagulant rodenticides was developed to overcome this problem; however, as these were based on the same chemical structure and mode of action as warfarin, it is not surprising that rats soon started to develop resistance to them as well. Today, such `super-rats' (as the media inevitably dubbed them) are widespread in southern England, and have also been found in parts of Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Unless they are specifically and systematically targeted, these rats are bound to spread, with potentially disastrous consequences.
In Britain, some work on this problem has been carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but only on farms, so it is uncertain how far zoos are even aware that there is a problem. But a burgeoning population of anticoagulant-resistant rats could have alarming implications for zoos, not merely from the expensive damage an uncontrollable population of the rodents would cause, but also, more seriously, from the direct risk to many zoo animals. Anticoagulants are popularly supposed to adversely affect only rodents, but this is not the case. Predators which eat resistant rats can suffer fatal internal haemorrhaging, as has already been documented in Britain with barn owls, red kites, weasels, stoats, polecats, foxes and domestic dogs and cats. How many rats would it take to kill a tiger?
The threat, though, is not one zoos can tackle on their own. According to experts, there is a need to develop new poisons, perhaps three in all, that can be used in succession over a wide area to prevent the rats building up resistance to each in turn. Financing and co-ordinating such a campaign is beyond the resources of any private organisation, and must be left to governments. In Europe, the EU is the obvious body to take on the job. Lobbying by prominent institutions such as zoos could help to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities and galvanize them into action.
What prospects for Africa's forest primates?
An analysis of the ecological relationship between species diversity and the available habitat area predicts that even if deforestation stopped today, a third of Africa's forest-dwelling primates would be doomed to extinction. Currently, the relationship between the number of species and the area of available forest is weak, but 50 years ago it was strong. Guy Cowlishaw, of the Zoological Society of London, argues that it is only a matter of time before the number of species falls to restore the relationship with forest area. He further argues that habitat fragmentation leaves primates vulnerable to climatic disruptions, loss of genetic diversity and breakdown of social structure. Cowlishaw urges swift action to preserve existing forests and establish corridors between small forest fragments to avoid isolating small populations.
Conservation Biology Vol. 13, No. 5 (1999), p. 1183 [reported in Oryx 34:2, p. 93]
Elephant reproduction workshop
Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, in Arkansas, U.S.A., is one of few places in the world where six veterinarians from various zoological institutions, universities and private facilities could gather for three and a half days to learn ultrasound imaging, semen collection and evaluation techniques on 11 highly tractable elephants (5.2 African; 1.3 Asian). Under the tutelage of Dr Dennis Schmitt, DVM, Ph.D., from Springfield, Missouri, we learned semen collection methods in African and Asian bulls. The team of participants also learned how to evaluate the reproductive tracts of male and female African and Asian elephants, and finished the workshop by identifying the pregnancy in a 22-year-old African cow. This pregnancy is unusual because this female was at one time a `flatliner' i.e. her endocrine status showed no cycles for several years but periodic cycles had begun in 1996.
The first Elephant Ultrasound Workshop at the Sanctuary, held on June 2124, 2000, provides a launching pad from which veterinarians may expand the pool of ultrasound-imaged elephants in North America. At the workshop, the team developed a standardized breeding soundness examination along with a `first draft' report form to document anatomic findings specific to each bull and cow. Data includes endocrine status (e.g. cycling regularly, flat-liner, unknown), reproductive tract findings (e.g. size of ampullae, testicles, ovaries, presence of vaginal cysts, uterine tumors) and sperm assessment (e.g. motility, pH, defects). The data will be entered into an inter-relational database including all elephants in North America, then hopefully expanding to Europe and other regions. The standardized examination form and database will permit a quick and accurate assessment of the breeding potential, as well as patterns of infertility, in elephants maintained in human care.
The workshop proved to be the opportunity of a lifetime, preparing me well to contribute to the medical and reproductive assessment of elephants so that realistic projections may be made for future breeding programs to improve the conservation of elephants worldwide.
Dr Jeff Wyatt, DVM, MPH,
Seneca Park Zoo
[Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary is at P.O. Box 715, Greenbrier, Arkansas 72058, U.S.A. (Tel.: 5015893291; Fax: 5015892248; Website: www.elephantsanctuary.org ]
Increasing genetic diversity of zoo penguins
Approximately 1,300 Humboldt penguins, or the equivalent of more than 10% of the wild population, were kept in about 75 Japanese institutions as of December 1998. The numbers kept at most institutions were increasing gradually, and it became an urgent necessity to transfer individual birds or eggs between institutions to avoid inbreeding. However, transferred penguins have often not made any contribution to genetic diversity in many cases, consanguineous pairs were broken up for transfer, and the remaining birds were subjected to heavy stress and failed to re-pair. Therefore, the JAZGA Penguin TAG encourages the transfer of eggs between institutions. Eighteen fertile Humboldt penguin eggs were transferred between four institutions (Tokyo Sea Life Park, Niigata Aquarium, Yumemigasaki Zoological Park and Edogawa City Natural Zoo) from January 1997 to May 1998. Prior to transfer, the eggs had been incubated for 12 to 37 days. During transfer the eggs were kept at 35° 37° C; they all hatched except for two which were broken during incubation. Foster parents incubated them for 26 to 66 days after laying their own first eggs; the fact that eggs hatched after shorter or longer periods than the normal incubation period did not seem to disturb the parental behaviour of the foster pairs.
At Tokyo Sea Life Park, nine juveniles are living as the result of egg transfer, and many of them have shown pairing and pre-pairing relationships with individuals that were hatched and reared by their own parents. We consider that transferring eggs is an effective management tool to increase the genetic diversity of the captive Humboldt penguin population.
English summary of an article by Michio Fukuda, Hitoshi Suzuki, Yukio Yamazaki, Mitsuru Yuzawa and Sanae Kawamura in the Journal of the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums Vol. 41, No. 2 (2000)
`Immortality' for £1,700
Would you like a species named after you? Then simply log on to the website www.biopat.de to find the species you fancy, and give it a name in return for a donation of at least £1,700. You will be following in the tracks of a marine snail named Bufonaria borisbeckeri after the tennis player, and a frog called Hyla stingi by a fan of the rock star Sting.
New species are usually given the name of their finder, but there is nothing to prevent him or her waiving this right. The first, generic part of a binomial is obviously not in anybody's gift, but the second, the specific name, is. The commercialisation of species names is all in a good cause, according to the German originators of the idea. Systematic biology is desperately short of money, and there are plenty of unnamed species. Put the two together, rely on personal vanity, and the shortage of funds is solved or so hope Biopat, a non-profit company backed by German taxonomists.
Studying crocodiles' immune systems
In 1999 a BBC television science team visited Crocodylus Park, Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory, in search of information for a documentary about crocodiles. At the park, Dr Adam Britton showed the film crew Indo-Pacific, or saltwater, crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) that had sustained serious injuries, and commented that it was somewhat of a mystery that these injured animals seemed to heal whilst surrounded by so many water-borne bacteria. Dr Britton put forward Crocodylus Park's belief that this was something to do with the crocodiles' blood.
The BBC returned to the park a short time later to use its facilities to look for such a substance. They contracted a biotechnology company in the U.S.A. to look for an antimicrobial peptide within the crocodiles' blood. They found a substance which has been named `Crocodilian' that kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria without attacking human cells. Crocodylus Park is now looking forward to supporting further research into Crocodilian.
ARAZPA Newsletter No. 46 (May 2000)
Breeding behaviour of the Asian arowana
Detailed observations on the reproductive behaviour of the Asian arowana (Scleropages formosus) an endangered mouth-brooding species which is the subject of a cooperative breeding programme in Japan were recently published in Japanese. (The aquarium where the successful breeding still an extremely uncommon occurrence took place is unfortunately not identified.)
Four patterns of social behaviour were recognized, namely biting, throat-puffing, close-swimming and quivering. All these behaviours were performed by both sexes. Spawning occurred in a tank where only a single pair were kept. The male was
identified by recognition of sperm, and the female by her behaviour and spawning. As the time for spawning neared, the female frequently swam with her belly touching the tank bottom. The duration of this behaviour increased as spawning time approached, and just before spawning she spent almost all her time in this way. Spawning ensued after the male's approach to the female, and they spawned at the bottom.
As soon as spawning was over, the male picked up the eggs in his mouth and kept them there for the duration of the brooding, sometimes moving his mouth as if stirring the eggs. He did not feed during the brooding period. The female was separated from the male after spawning. The fry began to come out of the male's mouth for a very short while at 64 days after spawning, and left their father's mouth permanently after 111 days. The eggs were 19 mm in diameter, and the average body length of the fry was about 62 mm when they left the male's mouth permanently.
English summary of article in Japanese by Shigeru Aoyama et al., published in the Journal of the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1999)
Primate mixed species symposium proceedings available
A Primate Mixed Species Symposium was held outside Dallas on 27 February 1999. More than 80 zoo professionals from approximately 45 institutions attended. Eleven papers and poster sessions were presented, followed by an open round-table discussion of the successes and problems of mixed primate species combinations and exhibits.
The symposium proceedings are now available to anyone interested at a cost of $15, which will be donated to the New World Primate TAG Conservation Fund. Requests from native primate-holding countries will be processed free. Please make checks payable to Dallas Zoological Society. Send your request to: Ken Kaemmerer, Dallas Zoo, 650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75203, U.S.A.
NATURZOO RHEINE, GERMANY
Excerpts from the Annual Report 1999
NaturZoo Rheine which is now the official name for Tierpark Rheine continued to manage its animal collection in a way which will assure continuity of the breeding groups and contribute to regional collection plans and breeding programmes. New additions to the animal stock, however, also paid tribute to the wishes of visitors for an attractive and diverse collection.
Primates went on being a speciality of the zoo. There were two births of ring-tailed lemurs (twins and a single young), and an immature male was sent to Tierpark Tühle. Unfortunately the breeding male died, and this will result in an interruption of births next year. We are planning to introduce a new, unrelated male. The group of cotton-top tamarins consists of 3.1 siblings; contrary to the belief in a natural avoidance of inbreeding within a group of related Callitrichidae, the female gave birth to an infant which was raised by the group.
There is only further bad news to report from the squirrel monkeys. In spite of all the efforts of the keepers regarding general husbandry and nutrition in particular, there was only a stillbirth of a very big infant (70 grams) and the death of the mother as a result of the difficult parturition. Furthermore, we were faced with a growing problem of general bad condition of the fur and loss of body weight. Once more we revised the diet, and also took blood samples for analysis, but came no nearer to improving the situation.
The lion-tailed macaques, too, went on posing husbandry problems. The first surviving young for years, a female, was certainly the best event. However, we lost two (1.1) adults; the male had to be euthanized after being severely wounded by one of the two other adult males. We had been aware of the risk of maintaining three adult males (father and two sons) within one group, but were unable to find places for the surplus males in other zoos. Among the Barbary macaques we lost a 20-year-old female, but raised three young. So it was time once again to reduce the group to protect the trees in the Monkey Forest, and a group of seven was sent to a new enclosure at Wildpark Daun, Germany.
In the last annual report we mentioned the problems of creating a new group of black mangabeys. We expressed hopes for breeding results, and in fact a primiparous female gave birth to a male whom she raised without any problems. However, after having gained more self-confidence following the birth, the mother started fighting with the long-time highest-ranking female, who therefore had to be separated. It was impossible to reintroduce her, and she is to be sent to another zoo.
The white-handed gibbons surprised everyone with the birth of a female. The group now consists of the breeding pair, their daughter born in 1990, a son born in 1993 and the baby.
After the death of the adult male gelada baboon, Zorro, in 1998, we decided to establish the male Albert, offspring of our second group, as new harem-leader. We had to decide between several potential risks: infanticide is a common event in geladas when bringing a new male to a group, and Zorro's last two offspring, at least, were potential victims. On the other hand, Albert was still not fully grown and it might be that the females would not accept him. In the end we thought it best to leave Albert with a younger brother and a half-brother in a separate enclosure alongside the widowed females. The younger males of the leaderless group caused some problems, as they showed aggression towards their new neighbours. We therefore sent three young males to Colchester Zoo, where they are kept as a bachelor group. It was as long as six months before we could put Albert and his companions in with the females. We chose a time when a very high-ranking female was in oestrus, and in fact she immediately kept Albert busy. Mating occurred within a few days. From this time on settling down went on very peacefully, and by the end of the year we had been made very happy by the first two offspring sired by Albert. Two more young were born in our second group, and at the end of the year we maintained 33 geladas. In spite of the fact that the EEP for the species is working quite successfully, population growth is slow, and the number of geladas kept at Rheine still represents a quarter of the captive world population.
We had some changes in the stock of rodents. Our popular exhibition of small rodents was revitalized by a new group of harvest mice (Micromys minutus), a gift of Tierpark Berlin. We stopped maintaining cururos (Spalacopus cyanus), as this species lived a quite unobtrusive life and attracted hardly any attention from visitors. After we exchanged males, the Cuban hutias started breeding again, and we were glad to send a small group to Munich Zoo, as some new holders are certainly needed to broaden the basis for a secure captive population, which might serve as a model for more endangered species of this taxon.
The harbour seals delivered a pup which survived for only a few days after having been severely bitten by the male. As it is becoming very difficult to find suitable places for surplus harbour seals, we used a contraceptive for the first time, giving one of the two females `the pill', and we will see if this proves to be an acceptable choice in 2000.
Among the hoofstock, the most notable births were two Chapman's zebras and six sitatungas; we were able to send five of the latter to other zoos. Three Barbary sheep from Tierpark Hagenbeck brought some new blood to our group.
The reproductive success of our Humboldt's penguins has continuously declined over past years. This year only two pairs laid one egg each; one chick hatched and was parent-reared. We are working towards balancing the age-structure of our colony, as most of the birds are more than ten and up to 28 years old.
The white stork colony consists of 30 pinioned birds and some 20 free-flying resident ones. The storks in the enclosure reared 14 chicks, and the free-flyers, who nest on trees and roofs of buildings around the zoo, added another 20. In August, when a few wild storks rested here for some days, we counted no less than 100 storks present at feeding times! After many years of regular breeding, the Chilean flamingos started courtship displays in late spring, but did not follow up with egg-laying. Finally, in August, some pairs brooded and two chicks hatched in September were reared without problems in spite of the late time of year. In retrospect we believe that some irregularities in the maintenance routine, e.g. mowing the lawn too frequently, disturbed the birds.
As in previous years, we gave some emphasis to breeding waders. We still have some husbandry problems with the rearing of ruffs, as do all holders of this species. Rearing the chicks is especially unsatisfactory, as a twisted-neck symptom occurs very frequently, and this year we really came no closer to a solution. However, 33 ruffs grew up; to colleagues at other zoos this may seem an exceptional success, but for us it is only a relative one, as these individuals were just 50% of all ruff chicks hatched. Nevertheless this number enabled us to send potential breeding stock to several other zoos, such as Helsinki and Darmstadt. So hopefully the basis for a self-sustaining zoo population of ruffs will be broadened over the coming years. Among the other waders noteworthy results were 40 reared pied avocets, six spurred lapwings, nine northern lapwings, one ringed plover and 26 redshanks these last represent a 100% rearing success of all chicks hatched.
A severe loss was one of our female hyacinth macaws, and the EEP was unable to find another partner for the male during the year.
Among the passerines a Bali mynah fledged but died a few days later as a result of an accident. In the colony of village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus), the number of young reared balanced the losses, and at the end of the year they numbered 84 individuals. Our colony has been self-sustaining for more than 14 years after a single import of 20 birds. The crested oropendolas, of which we keep 3.3 in a group, built large nests and we definitely heard the noise of at least one chick, but later we found no further indication of successful hatching.
We would like to use this opportunity to draw attention to our website, www.naturzoo.de , which lists most current changes within the animal collection by monthly updates.
Achim Johann, Curator
ROTTERDAM ZOO, THE NETHERLANDS
Extracts from the English version of the 1999 Annual Report
Rotterdam Zoo is very active in EEPs and related EAZA activities. Zoo personnel coordinate five EEPs: red-crowned crane, crowned pigeon, Asian elephant, red panda and tree kangaroo. The European studbook for the Cheirogaleids (dwarf lemurs and mouse lemurs) is also kept by zoo staff. Three European TAGs are chaired by Rotterdam Zoo personnel: Ciconiiformes/Phoenicopteriformes, Antelopes and Small Carnivores. The zoo actively participates in 51 EEPs, 23 ESBs and 10 international studbooks. It also cooperates in SSPs, the North American equivalent of EEPs, for two taxa with an SSP but not an EEP, Northern sea otter (Enhydra l. lutris) and François's monkey (Presbytis f. francoisi).
The zoo's `Bernhardine Fund' financed a number of projects in 1999, including continued support of Asian elephant research in Laos, a research project for Dalmatian pelicans in Romania, and the Indian Zoo Outreach Organization. Funds were also used for subspecific genetic research on red pandas, a conservation education project in Bacalod, the Philippines, and the construction of a breeding enclosure for the Visayan leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori). Agreement was reached with the Philippine government on the coordination of a long-term conservation programme for the Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons). As in 1998, Christmas cards were not sent out by the zoo in 1999; instead, the money previously allotted for this, Dfl. 4,000, was used to subsidize the housing of confiscated turtles at a rescue centre in Cuc Phuong, Vietnam.
Research and veterinary care
It was possible, with the help of volunteers and students, to carry out food digestion studies on ruffed lemurs, François's monkeys, Alaotran gentle lemurs, colobus, babirusas, wart hogs, and various turtles. A student project was carried out to assess why the short-nosed echidnas are not breeding, resulting in recommendations on the housing of these animals and on reducing their stereotyped behaviours. A study, now carried out for four consecutive years, was continued to evaluate the influence of the `Zoomeravonden' (summer evenings during which the zoo remains open) on the behaviour of the animals. This year focused on a comparison of animals that were shut out of their night quarters on these evenings and those that had free choice, i.e. could be inside or out. It was found that the animals with free choice were just as visible to the public as those not allowed into night quarters.
A volunteer observer recorded data on the social and reproductive behaviour of the greater flamingo colony. These birds have now been closely observed for nine consecutive years, and the study has yielded much information useful not only to Rotterdam Zoo but for management of captive flamingos generally. Zoo personnel attended a productive workshop in the U.S.A. in June 1999 to cooperate in development of joint flamingo husbandry guidelines (now being edited) for North America and Europe.
A new island was constructed for the gorillas in 1999, offering creative possibilities for behavioural enrichment using food. Each morning a portion of fruit or vegetables is loaded into 12 food containers buried in different locations on the island. Each container is held closed by an electromagnetic force that, when turned off, allows the gorillas to open it. The system is programmed so that the force is turned off for each container independently, in a random order and at random time intervals. The gorillas thus never know when or where food will be found, and they investigate all the possibilities regularly.
The veterinary department was faced with several medical challenges this year. The Asian elephant bull Palong, about 14 years old, became very ill with the dreaded herpes virus that has been taking a toll of zoo elephants in recent years. He received a treatment that until then had only been carried out on two young elephants in the U.S.A., and became the only Asian elephant older than three years to survive the virus. These results give hope that the new treatment can reduce mortality of captive Asian elephants from this disease. A long-term assessment of the influence of supplemental biotin (a member of the vitamin B complex) on nail quality of the Asian elephant cow Tin Tin Htoo suggested that this did result in a considerable improvement in nail condition, so supplementation of this vitamin is now standard in the diet. The gorilla Ashmar developed a cataract in his left eye as well as the one he already had in the right eye. The older cataract was removed and a new lens implanted; the operation proceeded smoothly and the second cataract will be removed in 2000.
The long-term research project on the Chinese giant salamanders began to reap rewards; a female who received hormonal treatments laid several hundred eggs. The hormonally-treated male with whom she was housed guarded the nest but failed to fertilize the eggs.
Skirmishes continued to intensify between the two groups of Asian elephants housed at Rotterdam, the `Irma group' and the `Tin Tin group'. The latter was made up of relative newcomers, three cows received from Rhenen Zoo in 1996 and two male calves born in 1998. No measures available eased the situation, and it was reluctantly concluded that sending the newer group to another zoo was the only realistic option. In November they departed for Port Lympne, where they have a great deal of room, and the cows have already become acquainted with the bull Luka.
The gorilla group reached ten members on 5 May with the birth of Annette's seventh offspring, a son Abeeku. The calls of the white-handed gibbon group transferred to the Malaysian Forest edge in 1998 proved to be more than their human neighbours could stand, requiring that these animals switch enclosures with the Javan leaf monkeys. Both species have adjusted well, and the leaf monkey group gained three members through the birth of two young and the arrival of a female from Melbourne Zoo. A group of eight Sulawesi crested macaques was placed on an island previously occupied by crab-eating macaques in the Asian wetland area. The Sulawesi group was made up of 0.4 from Chester Zoo, 2.1 from Borås Zoo, Sweden, and a baby born in Rotterdam. All went well for the first month, but in August the female Inez and her three-month-old baby died. Two weeks later female Daisy was found dead in the water. It was thought that her daughter, then nine months old, was independent enough to survive the loss, but four days later she was bitten to death by the male Amos. Female Rosemary gave birth to a baby on 26 December, bringing the number in the group back up to five.
The leopard cats produced 0.2.1 young (0.2 DNS), and two pairs of jaguarundis reared a total of 1.4 young. Five Pallas's cats arrived, two of whom were sent on to Wassenaar Wildlife Breeding Centre, where the zoo's 2.3 Temminck's golden cats, also on loan, produced 2.0 offspring. Also new to Rotterdam is the group of clawed jirds housed `with' the Pallas's cats.
In 1999 the zoo was asked to cooperate in a Dutch common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) breeding programme with the goal of quickly restocking this species, now almost extirpated from the wild in the Netherlands. Seven (3.4) hamsters received in October are being housed off-exhibit.
A female Malayan tapir was one of the few of this species born in Europe in 1999, and indeed in the last few years, thereby making an important contribution to the EEP. Eight bush pigs were born in 1999, of which one survived. The wart hogs produced 6.1 piglets, of which 4.1 survived. A supposedly sterilized Przewalski's horse managed to father three (2.1) foals in 1999, much to everyone's surprise and consternation, as this was not part of the EEP plan for the species. A male Sichuan takin was born, the third to be born at the zoo. Other EEP mammals that bred include 2.1 European mink, 1.1 southern pudu (1.0 DNS); 2.0 European otter, 0.1 okapi (DNS), 1.0 lowland anoa, 0.1 addax and 1.2 Arabian oryx (1.0 DNS).
In anticipation of the completion of the Bass Rock exhibit in the Oceanium, we cooperated with a private seabird breeder in Germany to import eggs of kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), razorbill (Alca torda), common puffin (Fratercula arctica) and common guillemot (Uria aalgae) from Iceland, where populations of these birds are huge. The eggs were hatched and the chicks reared in Germany. Because the natural range of white pelicans does not actually extend into the Amur region while that of Dalmatian pelicans does, it was decided to replace the former with the latter in the Amur region biotope of the zoo. The first eight Dalmatian pelicans, less than a year old, arrived from Mulhouse Zoo, France, where they were parent-reared.
The very attractive red-cowled cardinals (Paroria coronata), received in 1998 via Antwerp Zoo from a government confiscation in Belgium, bred well in 1999: 17 chicks were hatched by two pairs and 12 were reared past one month of age. The group of ten Java sparrows which entered the collection in 1998, began to breed in 1999, hatching nine young in the first round. Two passerines that have been in the collection much longer continued to breed well: the Bali mynahs hatched 11 (2.3.6) chicks and reared six (2.3.1), and the superb starlings hatched ten (2.1.7) chicks (0.0.3 DNS). The speckled mousebirds (Colius striatus), free-flying in the tropical bird house, reared 18 young in 1999; the antics of this large group, numbering 31 individuals on 31 December, are a delight to watch. Both species of turaco held in pairs throughout 1999, the violet-crested (Tauraco porphyreolophus chlorochlamys) and the Hartlaub's (T. hartlaubi), produced young; the rearing of the Hartlaub's chicks (two by hand) was a first for the zoo. Among the seven pigeon species to breed were three EEP species, Mauritius pink pigeon (0.2.7 hatched, 0.0.7 DNS), and Scheepmaker's and Victoria crowned pigeons (respectively 1.1.1 and 0.1 hatched and parent-reared).
Other EEP species that parent-reared young include African penguin (2.2), white-naped crane (1.1) and Congo peafowl (1.1). Breeding the last species proved to be a case of playing musical peacocks: the adults were held in a trio of 2.1 when the first clutch was laid. It was infertile, so the apparently less-preferred male was removed. The males were switched after a second clutch, also infertile, was laid. All three eggs from the next clutch were fertile (one chick pipped and died), and the second-choice male proved to be a first-rate father. Two wreathed hornbills were reared, the first success since the female became acutely ill in 1995; three (1.2) Von der Decken's hornbills were successfully reared, but one of the young females thereafter lost her life to an escaped Cuban boa that was recaptured in a neighbouring enclosure.
One of the most regrettable bird losses of 1999 was the death of the nocturnal curassow female from heart problems. She had reared many offspring over the years with her mate, and they often had young from different clutches together, forming an interesting family unit. The male and the young from January 1999 were returned to Stichting Crax, Belgium, and a different pair came to Rotterdam. Another greatly-felt loss was that of the breeding female toco toucan with her bizarre history. She came to the zoo in October 1992 after her mate, with whom she had successfully reared young, died. She
survived another three mates at Rotterdam, and was with her fourth at the zoo and fifth in total, all of whom she bred with (four successfully), when she died of arteriosclerosis in November 1999. Though toco toucans are known to be difficult to pair, she was generally quite compatible with all of her mates.
Reptiles and amphibians
Seven of the 17 reptile species who produced young in 1999 had not previously bred here Chinese three-striped box turtle (0.0.3), Hamilton's pond turtle (0.0.21), veiled chameleon (0.0.3, 0.0.2 DNS), prehensile-tailed skink (0.0.1), mangrove monitor (0.0.1), green tree python (0.0.1, which unfortunately later died) and black-tailed snake (Elaphe taeniura ridleyi; 0.0.9). A very welcome second breeding was that of a Madagascar spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides). The African spurred tortoises continue to lay eggs, but hatching has been stopped because they are no longer needed for the reintroduction project in Senegal. Amphibians which bred successfully included dyeing and blue poison-arrow frogs and Taiwan newt (Cynops ensicauda popei; 0.0.13). Fire salamanders hatched in 1998 metamorphosed in 1999.
Fishes and invertebrates
Future inhabitants of the Oceanium (due to open in summer 2000) arrived in great numbers in 1999. Sharks and rays will be exhibited in several Oceanium biotopes, thus nine species of Chondrichythes were acquired, with ten species being held at the end of 1999. A great disappointment was the sudden death of the four (2.2) sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) collected at a very young age on a research expedition with the Baltimore Aquarium in 1997; cause of death appears to have been multifactorial. Another sad loss was that of 0.0.6 hammerhead sharks shortly after arrival. The cause of death is thought to have been an unexpected long delay while they were on route to Rotterdam. Some of the cow-nosed rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) were lost to an Eimeria infection.
Two species of sea horse, Mediterranean (Hippocampus ramulosus) and slender (H. reidi) were received from a private breeder. Five large Atlantic cod came from Antwerp Zoo, and diverse damsel fishes from Disney's Epcot Center, including a beautiful Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus). A new group of some 50 lookdowns (Selene vomer) were imported, and survived the transport extremely well. Mackerel were chosen to represent North Sea schooling fishes, although this commonly-eaten table fish is in fact extremely sensitive; their transport to the zoo was therefore of great concern, but fortunately most individuals survived the two shipments from England, and now a group of over 40 is swimming around a tank in the fish quarantine. A few of the other marine animals received include barracudas, green morays, Atlantic tarpons and Nassau groupers (Epinephelus lanceolatus).
With the goal being to rely on reproduction rather than acquisition for replacement of most animals in the Oceanium, much effort is being given to developing reliable techniques to culture food species needed to rear offspring of exhibited animals. Approximately 170,000 litres of algae (four species) were cultured in 1999, in addition to hundreds of millions of Artemia spp., Brachionus spp. and Turbatrix aceti. These cultures made it possible to rear mangrove jellyfish (Cassiopeia andromeda), slender sea horse and dusky anemone fish (Amphiprion melanopus) again in 1999.
Rotterdam Zoo is an officially recognized botanical as well as zoological garden. It manages a scientific collection, including a large orchid collection and the national collection of bromeliads. Plant seeds are exchanged among major botanical gardens throughout the world, using annual lists of available seeds. Seeds that are received are registered and sown. Unfortunately the famous Victoria amazonica, planted in January, failed to flower regularly in 1999 and could not be exhibited. Many others of the zoo's most unusual and beautiful plants, such as the Aristolochia, with its spectacular flowers and unforgettable scent, are behind the scenes and cannot be enjoyed by visitors. Botanical department personnel are playing an increasingly important role in the furnishing of enclosures: for example, the Pallas's cats, the owl enclosures and the gorilla island. The last proved particularly challenging, given all the demands African atmosphere in dissimilar climate, potentially destructive animals, desired diversity and a very short acclimation period before the exhibit opened.
INTERNATIONAL ZOO NEWS
Budapest Zoo, Hungary
The first open-air butterfly exhibition in Hungary has opened at the zoo. The 2,000-m3 exhibit is covered with green netting, and houses 19 Central and South American and two Hungarian species from the family Papilionidae and the subfamilies Brassolinae, Danainae, Heliconinae, Morphinae and Nymphalinae. Painted quails, nutmeg pigeons and ringed teal keep the butterflies company. Four butterfly species were bred at the zoo: Danaus plexippus, Heliconius charitonius, H. melpomene and Dryas julia. The rest have been shipped in from Costa Rican butterfly farms. The farms supply many North American and European institutions. Butterfly farming is a good business in Costa Rica, and the number of landowners who choose not to cut down the forest and breed cattle, but to produce butterflies, is increasing.
The two Hungarian species, Papilio machaon and Inachis io, live in the hilly countryside around Budapest and are protected. We collected caterpillars from their natural habitat, and we will reintroduce the same number of specimens after reproduction in this way the zoo does not destroy the natural population.
Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, U.S.A.
In 1937, the Hagenbeck firm, under the directorship of Carl Kern, a local Swiss-trained landscaper, took advantage of the steep hillsides and surrounding landscape to build Cincinnati Zoo's Bear Grottoes. Using artificial rockwork, this innovative exhibit was one of the first barless, naturalistic exhibits at the zoo. Now, 63 years later, in the same area, visitors will be able to view the underwater antics of polar bears at the new Kroger Lords of the Arctic exhibit. The exhibit places polar bears on center stage and features a 12-foot-deep, 70,000-gallon pool [3.7 meters; 265,000 liters] with an underwater viewing area. The entire $2.75 million exhibit measures over 21,000 square feet [1,950 m2], which more than doubles the bears' previous exhibit space. Another large viewing area with glass panels overlooks a shallow stream, pool and lounging area. Five waterfalls and a replica of a polar bear den with educational interactives complement the exhibit. A second, smaller arctic exhibit features the very active Russian red tree squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).
The landscape of the exhibit portrays an arctic coastline at the northern edge of the boreal forest. A variety of arctic plants are used to demonstrate their many adaptations to life in a cold climate. The spruce and fir are pyramidal in shape to shed the heavy snow, which would otherwise break branches. The short, evergreen needles minimize water loss in the winds and low temperatures of the far north. Willow, birch and alder are dwarfed by the wind and cold; they grow in shrubby thickets, and in exposed sites persist only as low ground-covers. Another ground-cover shrub is bearberry, which gets its name for its red fruit, relished by various bear species throughout its range.
Abridged from Cincinnati Zoo press releases
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey, Channel Islands, U.K.
On 11 May, Dr Lee Durrell, Honorary Director of the Trust, was awarded a Gold Medal by the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo) both for her own work and to recognise the Durrell legacy as a whole. The Gold Medal was introduced in 1994 and is the highest honour the Society can bestow on individuals whose work and ideals recognise the paramount importance of protecting and conserving endangered species.
On 19 July, Jeremy J.C. Mallinson, O.B.E., Director of the Trust, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the University of Kent, Canterbury, U.K. Dr Mallinson joined the staff of Jersey Zoo in 1959. He was appointed Gerald Durrell's deputy in 1963, Zoological Director in 1972, and Director in 1995. Like his former boss, Jeremy Mallinson has shown his passion for conservation throughout his 40-year career. He has collected and studied animals in Africa, Asia and South America, and in 1998 received the World Zoo Organisation's Heini Hediger Award.
Heritage Park Zoo, Prescott, Arizona, U.S.A.
The zoo has been experimenting with `sound enrichment' radios, cassette tapes, flutes, a bugle horn, meditation bells and whistles, everything but a marching band was tried on our perplexed, but always patient, animals. Our first experiment, `Sounds of the Jungle', emanated from a carefully concealed cassette deck. We had an immediate response from Popeye, the peacock. He raced up the path, frantically vocalizing, either with alarm or sheer glee, looking for the source of these strange sounds. Like a deranged emperor, with his royal robes trailing behind, he looked near and far, sounding like a stuck horn honking with road rage. We quickly came to the consensus that Popeye had had enough, and we had a headache. Oddly, the ring-tailed lemurs and Shikar, the tiger, were only mildly amused, and only showed interest when the peacock was making a spectacle of himself. During all the cacophony, our black bear watched the whole show, patient, waiting his turn.
The team played the radio for Shash, the bear, tuning to different channels to find out his musical taste, and found that country music seemed to put a song in his heart. We left the radio behind and tried serenading our two pronghorns, Cheyenne and Apache, with a Peruvian flute. I have no musical abilities, and the sounds coming out of the flute sounded more like a rutting elk, but Cheyenne, our beautiful female, loved the flute so much she even tried to help me play it; so, nose to nose, I huffed and she puffed it was music to Cheyenne's ears. I, on the other hand, was left with chapped lips, and a new appreciation for Peruvian flute players.
The coyotes refused to demonstrate howling. Bells, whistles, flutes and bugle had no effect on them. But next door all three collared peccaries were on alert, the hairs on their backs standing straight up. It looked like they had had enough enrichment for one day. Next we tried the effects of a meditation gong on Kabuki, the badger. She didn't take her little eyes off the instrument as the ear-piercing sounds filled the zoo. In the distance we could hear Abbey, the mountain lion, `singing' along.
When we called it a day and gathered up our various musical devices, we wondered amongst ourselves if we had had a successful day with our sound enrichment. Our question was answered as we closed the parking lot gate Popeye, the peacock, was dashing up the path, still honking, still searching for that elusive sound.
Abridged from Linda Kocar in Wild Impressions Vol. 13, No. 7 (July 2000)
Kittenberger Zoo, Veszprém, Hungary
Since John Tuson described the state of this and some other Hungarian zoos in I.Z.N. 43:3 (pp. 152154; see also my reply, 43:7, pp. 507508), we haven't had an opportunity to give an account of our building or renewal activities. Meanwhile the Animal Protection Act was released in Hungary, which is an adaptation of the equivalent Swiss law. It prescribes a 500 m2 outdoor enclosure for two or three female elephants. Moreover, a 30 m2 indoor facility per animal is the minimum requirement for the night. Therefore, one of our most important tasks was to renew and restructure the elephant enclosure.
On 11 October 1999 the new enclosure was opened. The old facility was too small for keeping our 0.1 Indian elephant, because it included only a 66.3 m2 outdoor enclosure and a 30 m2 house. We have built a 500 m2 new outdoor enclosure for our female, but unfortunately the indoor enclosure has not been changed yet. The old facility did not contain a water pool, in contrast with the new one, which has a 15 m2, one metre deep one. As may be seen from the photo, there are also some trees and the soil is sandy for the most part. Our old lady, Suzy, really seems to enjoy the more spacious area and the more enriched environment.
Although our zoo (like all other zoos in Hungary) has to be maintained and developed from very limited resources, we hope that we will able to report more and more new improvements in the future. For example, we are building a large African enclosure, which will serve as a modern and attractive habitat for our African species.
István Sigmond, Director
National Zoological Gardens, Pretoria, South Africa
The director of the National Zoo and president of the World Zoo Organisation, Willie Labuschagne, paid tribute to former President Nelson Mandela during the official opening of the Komodo dragon enclosure and the `Dragons and Monsters' display on 5 July. `Credit should be given to Mr Mandela,' said Mr Labuschagne, `for his vision in accepting this gift and, in so doing, giving thousands of children the opportunity to learn about these exotic creatures.'
The Komodo dragon project started six years ago, when Mr Labuschagne initiated intensive bilateral negotiations with the Indonesian government in order to secure these elusive reptiles for the zoo. In 1997 the animals were received from the President of Indonesia as a gift to the people of South Africa. The Dragons and Monsters display, of which the two Komodo dragons the only ones in Africa are the focal point, also includes a number of smaller enclosures, which house the following animals: Nile monitor, white-throated monitor and Malay water monitor, bearded dragon, beaded lizard, green iguana, rhinoceros iguana, giant-plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus validus) and snapping turtle. To add a more realistic dimension to the enclosures, conures and colourful fish will complement the display.
As part of the publicity for the exhibit, the zoo held a `spot the Komodo' competition in which a life-sized fibreglass Komodo dragon was driven through the streets of Pretoria and Johannesburg on a flatbed truck. The main prize in the competition was an expenses-paid getaway weekend at one of the zoo's breeding centres in Lichtenburg and Potgietersrus.
Abridged from Pretoria Zoo press releases
Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France
The Réserve Africaine de Sigean is an extensive zoological park, 280 hectares in extent, in the south of France near the Mediterranean coast. This means that it is used to violent storms with heavy rain.
On 13 November 1999, torrential rain fell on the park 600 mm in a single day, the equivalent of a full year of normal precipitation. The reserve, edged by the Sigean-Bages pond and bordered by the quiet river La Berre, was badly affected by this storm. The part of the park called the `African plain', an 18-ha enclosure, suffered the most serious flooding. A powerful stream of water crossed the enclosure, carrying everything away; the water was 1.5 m deep in places. Only about a quarter of this grassland remained above water.
The park's main losses were among the herbivores in this enclosure. Three brindled gnus, two impalas, two eland and 13 springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) died as a result of the flood. The dead of the first three species were mainly young animals, but 12 of the springbok were adult males. In our attempt to explain this disparity, we thought of an ethological study of this species which was carried out in 1994. It showed that there were two or three territorial springbok males who shared the enclosure, each one on his own territory. The non-territorial males formed a bachelor group that hovered around the other males' domains. Females and immature young grouped and moved all around the enclosure.
These conclusions could help to explain why the dead springboks were adult males (the 13th was a female in a box, with no possible escape). They could not get a refuge on the only high ground on the plain, as its owner probably guarded this `island'. During the flood, the relations between and within the various species were not agonistic except in the case of the springbok. Their territoriality was so important that the individuals who were without territories were drowned.
To prevent such a problem ever happening again, some parts of the enclosure have been raised and shelters have been added in high places. The locations of these new refuges have been chosen taking into consideration the dominant males' territories and the depth of the water during the flood. Thanks to this, the greatest possible number of animals will have access to safe places in the event of another such rare phenomenon occurring.
Marianne Bilbaut, scientific assistant
Riverbanks Zoological Park, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.
The following births and hatchings took place during the period April to June 2000: 0.1 reticulated giraffe, 1 dusky titi, 7 wart hog (6 DNS), 1 Leadbeater's cockatoo, 2 keel-billed toucan, 1 pink-necked fruit dove, 2 toco toucan, 1 yellow-breasted ground dove, 2 pancake tortoise, 3 lined leaf-tailed gecko, 18 Henkel's leaf-tailed gecko, 2 giant leaf-tailed gecko, 1 prehensile-tailed skink.
The following were acquired: 1.0 Eastern kingsnake, 1.0 cornsnake, 13 white-throated bee-eater, 18 carmine bee-eater, 2.1 superb starling, 1.0 Palawan peacock pheasant, 3 speckled mousebird, 4 Taveta weaver, 1.0 Fea's white-headed viper, 0.1 king baboon spider, 2 goliath bird-eating spider.
Our Fea's white-headed vipers (Azemiops fea 2.1 arrived earlier) are especially significant acquisitions, not only because of their rarity but also because they are now feeding normally and continuing to thrive. Reproduction is the ultimate goal, and hopefully the cool environment they are being kept in will meet their needs.
Alan H. Shoemaker,
Seattle Aquarium, Washington, U.S.A.
The aquarium has two species of octopuses, both always on exhibit. The Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens) is the most common octopus on the west coast. It only grows to half a pound [225 g] and is commonly mistaken for a young giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), our other species, which can grow to 150 pounds [70 kg] and is the largest in the world. Because of their size, they have been the victims of octopus wrestling contests, where divers vied to see who could bring up the biggest octopus; such contests are now banned.
Octopuses eat a variety of foods. Although it has long been dogma that the giant Pacific octopus prefers the rather exotic diet of Dungeness crab, it has also been known to eat snails, shrimps, worms, abalone, scallops, clams, sea urchins, fish, and recently-dead carrion, all of which may require different methods of feeding. At the aquarium they've been seen to eat live dogfish sharks, and have even been able to catch five-pound [2.25 kg] salmon. They can grow 12% by weight a day, keeping up this rate for several months; this is how they can grow so large in a short period of time. The giant octopus lives for just three to five years and dies after mating or laying eggs.
Octopuses appear to use different methods to open clams. A colleague of mine, Dr Jennifer Mather of the University of Lethbridge, and I set up a project to determine the methods used by the octopus to open three different species of clams at the aquarium, to determine their choice of clams, and record consumption. It appears that the giant Pacific octopuses have at least four ways of getting into clams: pulling them apart, breaking them, chipping them and presumably injecting some venom to relax and kill the clam, and drilling them to provide access for their venom. It also appears that the octopuses use the easiest method if possible, resorting to drilling only when other methods have been unsuccessful.
Various other research projects have also been conducted on octopuses at Seattle Aquarium. In 1993, Dr Mather and I published a paper in the Journal of Comparative Psychology on the personalities of octopuses. We determined that the animals have three types of temperament, a precursor to personality aggressive, paranoid and passive. More recently, we published in the same journal a paper that showed that octopuses can exhibit play behavior. We were investigating how they habituate to a new and novel object, in this case a floating white pill-bottle. As expected, most octopuses attempted to eat the bottle and then rejected it. But some individuals continued to interact with the bottle by blowing it across the tank with their funnels, and having the bottle return in the water current, much as a child bounces a ball. They continued to do this for up to 35 minutes. Although we were very rigorous in our definition of play behavior, this activity fits the definition. We are also investigating how octopuses squeeze through small openings and whether they have external digestion of their food by use of excreted saliva, determining the food items of red octopuses by examining their beer-bottle homes on the floor of Puget Sound, conducting an on-going survey of Puget Sound's octopuses, and determining whether octopuses sleep (they probably do).
Octopuses, like most cephalopods, can change color dramatically through the use of the chromatophores in their skin. Northern octopus and deep-water species tend to be drably colored, possibly because they live in dark or murky water. Cold-water octopuses are usually shades of brown, red, or gray, but they can also be mottled with white. Tropical reef octopuses are usually more vividly colored than their northern counter repertoire of colors and patterns.
Extreme care is needed by aquariums to keep octopuses inside their tanks, as these animals are great escape artists. They can easily crawl out of tanks without lids. Octopus can crawl through an opening about the size of their eyes. In the case of the giant octopus, the tank must also be strongly sealed, as these animals can exert considerable strength. At the aquarium, a 40-pound [18 kg] animal was able to slide a lid off a tank with 66 pounds [30 kg] of weight on it, and thus escape.
All octopuses can bite with their beaks and have a venomous saliva that is used to paralyze and kill the crabs they eat. The potency of the venom varies from species to species, as does the tendency to bite people. The little blue-ring octopus of the South Pacific has been known to kill people with its bite. The Pacific red octopus is especially prone to bite when handled, and its bite can be serious, causing severe pain, swelling, numbness, and necrosis. One person bitten at the aquarium on the back of her hand ten years ago still has a dime-sized scar where the bite occurred. Giant octopuses are much less prone to bite, although divers have been bitten, causing swelling and numbness. Because of the potential risk, octopuses should only be handled by trained professionals, as unskilled handlers could get bitten or harm the octopus through rough treatment.
Abridged from Roland C. Anderson in AZA Communiqué (May 2000)
Tama Zoo, Toko, Japan
The zoo's white pelicans formed two pairs, pair A and pair B, which began egg-laying in 1998, although in that year all the eggs were infertile. In 1999 the eggs of pair A were again infertile, but the two eggs of pair B laid on 20 and 22 April were fertile, so they were placed in an incubator. Pair B laid two more eggs on 15 and 17 May, and these too were placed in the incubator. Just before hatching one egg was given to each pair to brood, and the other two were kept for hand-rearing.
Since the size of pelican chicks and their nesting environment is similar to those of wild geese, the data for wild geese were used for reference. The incubator was kept at a temperature of 37.237.3° C, and a humidity of 6065%. At the time of the morning and evening cooling, the eggs were misted with water. During artificial incubation, a weight loss of 1215% is a sign that the embryos are developing normally. The four pelican eggs showed a weight loss of only 67%, but they hatched normally.
At hatching the skin of the chicks was pink, but it began to darken after three days, and by seven days was very black. It took four months for their plumage to take on the same colour as that of the parents. The two eggs returned to the parents both hatched. At first they lay still at the parents' feet as if dead, but by ten days they had grown so large that they could not fit between the adults' legs, and were continually demanding to be fed. The adults fed the chicks regurgitated, half-digested food, and spread their wings to make shade for the chicks. At the age of 74 days they entered the water with their parents for the first time as full-fledged birds. Even after they began to feed themselves, they continued to receive food from the adults for up to 150 days.
English summary of article in Japanese by R. Sakashita, H. Sugita, T. Sekii, S. Shichiri, Y. Kitada and H. Ogawa, published in Animals and Zoos Vol. 52, No. 5 (June 2000)
New reference source for zoos
A Bibliography of References to Husbandry and Veterinary Guidelines for Animals in Zoological Collections by Alastair A. Macdonald and Nicola Charlton (first published 2000; ISSN 14707322) has been created as a contribution towards the better management of animals in zoological collections. It is hoped that this list of references will assist not only those keepers, biologists and veterinarians who are actively taking care of animals, but also the librarians in national, biological and veterinary libraries who are responsible for providing the books used as information for politicians and for the education of the future generations of zoologists and veterinarians. The bibliography is a listing of information currently available which details the husbandry and management guidelines for animals in zoological collections or under captive management. The alphabetical listing of authors has been further categorised under various headings: general topics, invertebrates, amphibia, reptiles, birds, fish, mammals. The list concludes with a first contribution towards a more complete bibliography of veterinary reference books on the diseases, diagnosis, surgical and medical care of exotic animals.
Copies are available at a cost of £10.00 (exclusive of postage and packing). For one copy the postage and packing rates are: £2.00 U.K.; £2.50 Europe; £4.00 worldwide Zone 1 (U.S.A. etc.); £4.50 worldwide Zone 2 (Australasia & Far East).
To order, please contact: The Conservation Coordinator, The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, U.K. (General telephone: 020 7586 0230; direct telephone: 020 7449 6350; general e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; direct e-mail: email@example.com ; fax: 020 7722 4427)
New in paperback
Two University of Chicago Press books recently reviewed in I.Z.N. are now available in paperback. They are Mammals of the Neotropics Vol. 3. The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil by John F. Eisenberg and Kent H. Redford (review, I.Z.N. 47:1, pp. 4042), ISBN 0226195422, price £28.00 or $40.00, and Wildlife of the Tibetan Steppe by George B. Schaller (review, I.Z.N. 45:5, pp. 299301), ISBN 0226736539, price £14.00 or $20.00.
Albrecht, U.: Vergnügen und Belehrungen: Die Geschichte bürgerlicher Stuttgarter Tiergärten im 19. Jahrhundert. 1. Teil: G. Werners _Zoologischer Garten 18401874. (Entertainment and education zoos in 19th-century Stuttgart.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 171193. [German, with English summary. Gustav Werners Tiergarten was the first long-lived zoo in Stuttgart. Despite its limited means and cramped surroundings in the city centre, the garden became one of the most important attractions in Stuttgart thanks to Werners zoological talent and business acumen. But its success was closely bound to the person of its owner, and it closed down three years after his death.]
Allen, D.: Tawi Tawi Survey 1999. ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 79. [German, with English summary. A survey of a previously unexplored forest in Tawi Tawi, in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines, recorded 70 bird species, including the Sulu hornbill and all parrots known from the island (though the Philippine cockatoo seemed to be very rare). There was no evidence of the Tawi Tawi bleeding heart.]
Anderson, S.J.: Increasing calcium levels in cultured insects. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 19. [Low calcium (Ca) contents and low calcium:phosphorus (Ca:P) ratios of mealworm larvae and house crickets can result in imbalances of Ca and P in diets of avian species when these insects form more than a minor proportion of the diet. Appropriate dietary Ca and Ca:P levels are particularly important for normal growth and bone development in chicks, especially of long-legged species such as bustards. Two experiments were carried out at the National Avian Research Center, Abu Dhabi, to evaluate the efficacy of a selection of practicable dietary options for increasing the Ca levels and Ca:P ratios of cultured mealworm larvae and immature house crickets used for feeding bustards. Acceptable insect Ca and Ca:P levels were achieved by maintaining insects on commercial high-Ca diet products for as little as 24 hours.]
Balk, A.: Hersengymnastiek voor olifanten. (Mental exercise for elephants.) De Harpij Vol. 19, No. 2 (2000), pp. 1620. [Dutch, with very brief English summary. The article discusses management of Asian elephants, particularly in Dutch zoos and circuses. Topics touched on include training, reproduction, breeding programmes, surplus individuals and differences between hands-on and hands-off management. It concludes that zoos can best assist conservation by supporting in situ projects.]
Barnicoat, F.C.: Breeding experiences with the whiskered lorikeet. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 34, No. 7 (2000), pp. 228234. [Oreopsittacus arfaki.]
Baume, L.: Artificial incubation and rearing of the singing honeyeater Meliphaga virescens. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 1415.
Benirschke, K.: Anatomic studies on pregnant giant Chaco peccaries (Catagonus wagneri). Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 201210. [Aspects of the foetal development, ovaries and placenta of this species are described for the first time.]
Bennett, B.: The birth of two sun bears, Ursus malayanus: a first for Wellington Zoo and New Zealand. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), p. 38.
Blaszkiewitz, B.: Neue Anlagen für Takine und Moschusochsen, Asiatische Rinder und Hirsche im Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde. (Tierpark Berlins new enclosures for takin, musk ox, Asian cattle and deer.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 194200. [German, no English summary.]
Brandstätter, F.: Beobachtungen zu Haltung und Futteraufnahme bei Riesenskorpionen. (Notes on care and diet of giant scorpions.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 215216. [German, no English summary. Neunkirchen Zoo, Germany: Pandinus imperator and Heterometrus cyaneus.]
Caton, W.: Growth and development of Petaurus breviceps (northern region) in captivity and some comparisons with P. breviceps (southern region). Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 610. [Sugar gliders, Currumbin Sanctuary.]
de Ruiter, M.: De Livingstone vliegende hond. (Livingstone's fruit bats.) De Harpij Vol. 19, No. 2 (2000), pp. 2628. [Dutch, with English summary. A survey of this species in 1988 indicated that only some 200 individuals survived. Because of its experience with the Rodriguez bat, Jersey Zoo was able to initiate a captive-breeding programme for Livingstone's fruit bats. Catching these bats, particularly females, proved to be quite difficult: a total of only 10.2 animals were captured in the first three expeditions. The fourth and last attempt, made in 1995, yielded 23.5 specimens. The 23 males were released and the five females brought to Jersey. Currently the zoo holds 12.7.3 of the bats, and another 2.5 are at Bristol Zoo.]
Emmerich, A.: Management of a Chilean flamingo after loss of vision. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 2526. [Adelaide Zoo. The bird, over 50 years old, became blind as a result of senile cataract formation in both eyes. With care and assistance from staff, and guided by the vocalisations of his long-time companion, an even older greater flamingo, he has learned to cope with his disability.]
Faust, L.J., and Thompson, S.D.: Birth sex ratio in captive mammals: patterns, biases, and the implications for management and conservation. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1125. [Sex allocation theory predicts that a female should produce offspring of the sex that most increases her own fitness. For polygynous species, this means that females in superior condition should bias offspring production toward the sex with greater variation in lifetime reproductive success, typically males. Captive mammal populations are generally kept in good nutritional condition with low levels of stress, and thus populations of polygynous species might be expected to have birth sex ratios biased toward males. Sex allocation theory also predicts that when competition reduces reproductive success of the mother, she should bias offspring toward whichever sex disperses. These predicted biases would have a large impact on captive breeding programs, because unbalanced sex ratios may compromise use of limited space in zoos. The authors, from Lincoln Park Zoo, examined 66 species of mammal in North American zoos for evidence of birth sex ratio bias. Contrary to their expectations, they found no evidence of bias toward male births in polygynous populations; instead, their data suggest that stochastic processes can push the birth sex ratio of individual species toward either males or females. They did find evidence to support the local resource competition hypothesis for captive primate species: in species with female philopatry, males (the dispersing sex) were overproduced, whereas in species with male philopatry, females were overproduced. Management plans will benefit from taking into consideration the tendency for primates, and perhaps other taxa, to bias birth sex ratios in this way. Many species displayed long sequences of years with biased birth sex ratios, many of which were biased toward males; in primates, these sequences are related to philopatry, and this may be true for species from other taxa. Biased sex ratios constrain the range of potential breeding recommendations by limiting the potential number of breeding groups that can be formed; population managers must be ready to compensate for significant biases in birth sex ratio based on dispersal and stochasticity.]
Gao, X.: Flora und Fauna des Beita-Gebirges der Xinjiang-Provinz, China eine Erfassung. (A survey of flora and fauna of the Beita Mountains, north-eastern China.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1213. [German, with English summary. The survey proved that this area still holds important populations of threatened species such as Mongolian wild ass and goitered gazelle. In total, 148 species of vertebrates were encountered, with some interesting sightings, e.g. of two houbara bustards, probably wintering there.]
Garner, R.: Case of extreme aggression towards a juvenile banded bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 24. [The injuries, by an adult conspecific, are thought to have occurred through either a courtship behaviour, a mating act, or possibly a territorial conflict.]
Green, P.T., O'Dowd, D.J., and Lake, P.S.: Invasion der Landbeinameise auf der Weihnachtinsel. (Invasion of Christmas Island by the long-legged ant.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1516. [German, with English summary. This introduced ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) is a serious threat to the original fauna of the undisturbed rainforest on Christmas Island. Anoplolepis is able to form supercolonies in which it reaches high population densities. In these areas the ants (a) annihilate resident populations of the endemic red land crab (Gecarcoidea natalis), which is the dominant consumer on the forest floor, controlling critical aspects of ecosystem function on the island; (b) tend, protect and encourage the establishment of a variety of sap-sucking scale-insects, which can be debilitating to their host plants; and (c) directly threaten other species with high conservation value, for example the endangered Abbott's booby (Papasula abbotti) and Andrew's frigate bird (Fregata andrewsi). Until now, just a few per cent of the island's forested area may be affected, but action needs to be taken now. The spread of the ants and the establishment of new supercolonies must be stopped to protect the ecosystem on the island.]
Harper, P.: Eight years of environmental enrichment for Adelaide Zoo's adult male orang-utan. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 3944.
Hawkins, M.R.: The use of gum feeders: looking at device design and responses from marsupial species. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 2731. [Taronga Zoo; gives instructions for the construction of simple, inexpensive gum feeders suitable for both marsupial and primate exudate feeders.]
Hundgen, K., Raphael, B., and Sheppard, C.: Egg fertility among vasectomized and non-vasectomized male resident Canada geese at the Wildlife Conservation Park/Bronx Zoo. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 3540. [In 1991, a vasectomy program was initiated at the Bronx Zoo to minimize the population growth of resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Sixty-nine males were vasectomized over a six-year period. From 1994 to 1998, egg fertility was examined in females paired with vasectomized and non-vasectomized geese. Of the 340 eggs laid by females paired with vasectomized males, 12% were fertile. In comparison, of the 526 eggs laid by females paired with non-vasectomized males, 90% were fertile. The vasectomy procedure was easier to perform on males captured during the breeding season than on those captured during molt owing to the enlarged size of the vas deferens. Where resident Canada goose populations are small and resources available, the implementation of a vasectomy program can be effective in reducing population growth.]
Low, R.: The Derbyan parakeet. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 34, No. 6 (2000), pp. 195196. [Psittacula derbiana.]
Matern, B.: Nachruf auf Dr. Günter Klöppel. (Obituary of Dr G. Klöppel.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 211214. [German, no English summary. Dr Klöppel was for many years veterinarian at Frankfurt Zoo.]
Meier, G.: Die bedrohten Lagomorphen Mexikos ein ungelöstes Problem. (Threatened lagomorphs of Mexico an unresolved problem.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 2122. [German, with English summary. The world's 80-plus species of Lagomorpha are not very well-known either to the public, or even to biologists and conservationists. This order contains a number of species which are seriously in danger of extinction. Most are endemic to small areas and highly specialised. They are distributed all around the world, in `first world' as well as developing countries. Mexico, for example, is home to 14 species around 27% of the world's lagomorphs. It is also one of the top-ranking countries in terms of most rapid loss of biodiversity, with many mammal species badly threatened by hunting pressure, fragmentation, habitat loss or pollution. One of the best studied species, the endemic volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) from the mountains south of Mexico City, offers good possibilities as a flagship species to draw attention to the fate of all hares and rabbits in Mexico. This rabbit could therefore strongly assist conservation-minded NGOs in their important work.]
Meier, G.: Indonesien ein brennendes Problem. (Indonesia a burning problem.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1920. [German, with English summary. While the political situation of Indonesia is often in the news, hardly any publicity is given to the massive ongoing environmental destruction in the country. Companies responsible for the forest fires in 1997/1998 were not prosecuted, and destructive activities are often backed by local or national government authorities or the powerful military. On the Mentawai Islands, against the strong protests of the indigenous people, permission has been granted to cut down 100,000 ha of rainforest for development of oilpalm plantations. Through this action four endemic primate species Kloss's gibbon, pig-tailed langur, Mentawai Island leaf monkey and Mentawai Island macaque are threatened with extinction. In Indonesia as a whole, only 13,000 rangers are employed to protect 100 million hectares of forest. This seems to be deliberate, since Indonesia is one of the biggest exporters of tropical wood in the whole of Asia. If no major change in attitude takes place soon, Indonesia will lose almost all of its lowland forest within the foreseeable future, with dramatic results for the biodiversity of this species-rich region and for the global climate.]
Meier, G., and Wirth, R.: Ungeklärter Zusammenbruch der Geierpopulationen Indiens. (Unexplained collapse of Indian vulture populations.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1718. [German, with English summary. Populations of three vulture species in India, which were abundant until a decade ago, have recently collapsed: Gyps bengalensis, G. indicus and G. tenuirostris (the latter recently recognized as a distinct species). The species now deserve a `critically endangered' listing under the IUCN categories. Reasons are still unknown, but the way the decline proceeds more or less rules out poisoning, lack of food or direct persecution. All evidence so far suggests an as yet unidentified (and perhaps new) disease. There is fear that some or all of the three species might become extinct, and that the disease might spread to other vulture species outside India, to other bird species and perhaps even to humans. Urgent action is suggested to identify the disease, and perhaps for emergency action to set up captive-breeding programmes outside India while there is still time.]
Moraton, S.: Parrot diets: what research shows and what we should feed our birds. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 34, No. 7 (2000), pp. 237240.
Moreau, M.-A.: Seahorse husbandry, management and conservation: report on an international aquarium workshop. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 3437.
Nederlof, L.-J.: Een vlindergezelschap uit Costa Rica. (A butterfly collection from Costa Rica.) De Harpij Vol. 19, No. 2 (2000), pp. 2224. [Dutch, with English summary. A Costa Rican lowland forest exhibit is now being constructed in Rotterdam Zoo's `Oceanium'. While Costa Rica is a very small country, it has an incredible diversity of butterflies, some of which will be presented in the exhibit. Species were carefully chosen, with criteria being that they can be cultured at the zoo and that the combination of species selected will offer visitors an interesting exhibit at all times of the day and year. Successful captive reproduction of tropical butterflies is largely dependent on the availability of suitable food plants for the voracious caterpillars. Food plants for the butterflies in this exhibit will be grown in-house or purchased, depending on commercial availability. Some butterflies will be bred off-exhibit and others on-exhibit. The species selected should not fly too high (or be too inconspicuous), some must like shadow (most butterflies fly best in sunlight), and the different species should have different circadian rhythms, so that they are active at different times of the day. Unanticipated problems in butterfly husbandry may arise, but preliminary trials have given some confidence that these can be solved.]
Nehls, H.W.: Zur Brutbiologie des Doppelhornvogels (Buceros bicornis) nach Beobachtungen im Zoologischen Garten Rostock. (Observations of the breeding biology of great Indian hornbills at Rostock Zoo.) Der Zoologische Garten Vol. 70, No. 3 (2000), pp. 145170. [German, with English summary. Two pairs were observed. Breeding behaviour starts in December/January. In late January or February the female closes the entrance to the nest cavity and lays two to four eggs at intervals of four or more days. Incubation lasts 35 (sometimes up to 37) days and starts when the first egg is laid. The eggs hatch at corresponding intervals; the chicks weigh 4550 g and are completely naked at hatching. Their eyes are closed until the end of the third week and are completely open in the fifth week. The chicks are brooded for several weeks, and fledged after 10 to 10.5 weeks. The female leaves the nest a few days before the fledglings, after spending almost four months in it. Only the first nestling survives; the others always die of starvation during the first week after hatching, as they are unable to compete with the oldest, which is already considerably stronger. The plumage starts to develop very late, the _hedgehog state not being reached until the nestlings are four weeks old; the body is not completely feathered until the seventh week. The bluish white-grey iris of juveniles changes to the reddish-brown colour of the adult males during the second year of life and becomes completely white in females during the third year. The casque develops out of a visible swelling after the nestlings are fledged. The females moult while in the nest, gradually losing about 50% of the tail and flight feathers. As a rule seven primaries, three secondaries and four tail feathers are renewed on each side, but the birds retain their ability to fly throughout the moult. The article includes detailed notes on the care of the young and their physical and behavioural development, and is illustrated with more than 20 photos.]
O'Callaghan, P.: The management of eucalyptus plantations for koala fodder. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 2224. [Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.]
Oliver, S.: Observing behaviours in an enriched environment for Californian sealions, Zalophus c. californianus, at Auckland Zoo. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 1821.
Phipps, G.: On being more than `just' a keeper. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), p. 45.
Pittman, T.: Conserving the Lear's macaw: a special report on new initiatives in Brazil. Parrot Society Magazine Vol. 34, No. 6 (2000), pp. 187194.
Sherman, P.T.: Reproductive biology and ecology of white-winged trumpeters (Psophia leucoptera) and recommendations for the breeding of captive trumpeters. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 6584. [Because little information is available about any of the trumpeter species and because trumpeters have proven difficult to breed in captivity, information relevant to breeding and management of captive trumpeters is reported in this paper. Wild white-winged trumpeters studied in Peru lived in territorial social groups that ranged in size from four to 13 individuals. The birds were highly frugivorous: fruit pulp comprised approximately 90% of their diet, with the remainder composed principally of arthropods and small vertebrates. A typical territorial group contained three adult males, two adult females, and several sexually immature offspring, but smaller temporary groups sometimes formed for the duration of the breeding season. Only the dominant female contributed eggs to the clutch, and all adult males in the group competed to obtain copulations with her. Eggs were laid in elevated nesting cavities and no nest was constructed. The average clutch size was three eggs, and incubation was not begun until the final egg was laid. The dominant male and female shared most of the incubation duties, but subordinate males covered approximately 15% of the incubation shifts. Eggs hatched approximately 27 days after incubation was begun, and chicks left the nesting cavity the day after they hatched. Although precocial, chicks were completely dependent on older birds to feed them for their first three weeks, and then gradually began to feed themselves more and more. The subordinate adult males fed chicks the most food, the dominant male and female and older offspring fed chicks an intermediate amount, and the subordinate adult female fed chicks the least. Young chicks behaved aggressively towards each other, but were separated by adults before they injured each other. If at least one chick from the clutch survived, the birds did not breed again until the beginning of the next breeding season the following year. Chicks remained in their natal groups until they reached sexual maturity at two years of age, at which time they dispersed and attempted to join a new group.]
Slater, G.: Capture and restraint a dying zoo skill. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 1113. [A summary, and defence, of the manual techniques increasingly being displaced by chemical methods.]
Streicher, U.: Das Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam von der Auffangstation zur Erhaltungszucht. (The E.P.R.C. from rescue to conservation breeding.) ZGAP Mitteilungen Vol. 16, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1012. [German, no English summary.]
Tarou, L.R., Bashaw, M.J., and Maple, T.L.: Social attachment in giraffe: response to social separation. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 4151. [Attachment relationships between animals are often studied by separating a pair of individuals and recording their subsequent behavior. Studies of primates have shown that separation results in changes that are indicative of both psychological and physiological stress. Similar results have been found in several non-primate species with differing social structures. This study examined the behavior of two female giraffes at Zoo Atlanta after the removal of the resident male. Data were collected on the giraffes before and after separation, using an instantaneous scan sampling technique to record levels of activity, social behaviors, solitary behaviors, proximity, and habitat utilization. After the removal of the resident male, both females exhibited decreased habitat utilization and increased levels of activity, stereotypical behavior, and contact behavior (particularly neck-rubbing), which may be indicative of an attempt to reinforce social cohesion. These results are similar to those found in earlier primate separation studies, supporting the hypothesis that complex social structure is not necessary for the formation of social attachments. Because social separation often results in stress, an understanding of the variables involved in a species' response to separation is vital to the promotion of the psychological and physical well-being of captive animals.]
Thomas, J.: Captive management of the helmeted honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 3233. [Healesville Sanctuary.]
Wei, F., Wang, Z., Feng, Z., Li, M., and Zhou, A.: Seasonal energy utilization in bamboo by the red panda (Ailurus fulgens). Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 2733.
Westerveld, B.: De totstandkoming van een gorilla-eiland in Diergaarde Blijdorp. (Creating a gorilla island at Rotterdam Zoo.) De Harpij Vol. 19, No. 2 (2000), pp. 29. [Dutch, with English summary. For several years, the zoo's gorilla group now consisting of ten animals, including 1.4 adults and 3.2 juveniles and sub-adults only had access to an indoor area. A project group established the requirements that the outdoor enclosure must fulfil: the gorillas must have shelter from wind, rain, cold and sun; they must be able to get out of each other's and the public's view; they must regularly be offered food outdoors; the island must remain novel to them. Three shelters constructed in different locations provide the gorillas with shelter from the elements and allow them privacy. The shelters have nipple waterers and a warm wall, and there are also heated artificial rocks that the animals can sit on outside two shelters. The vegetation in the enclosure also serves as protection against the sun. A system of 12 buried food containers with lids that spring open when manipulated is distributed throughout the enclosure, providing food at random intervals and in a random order. Unpredictability is also achieved by altering the accessibility to different sections of the enclosure. Edible plants are being grown in different areas, including the swampy area adjacent to the 4 m wide and 1 m deep moat that serves as the enclosure boundary. Electric fencing is used as an additional precautionary barrier in many areas of the moat, and is used inside the enclosure to protect certain plants and to temporarily limit access to sections of the enclosure. With the exception of one female, all the gorillas use the outdoor enclosure. While the proportion of time that they are outdoors has exceeded expectations at this point, efforts will be made to further increase this by making the outdoor area even more enticing and by sometimes denying access to the indoor areas.]
Woodward, K.: Behavioural enrichment: let's not overlook our feathered friends. Thylacinus Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999), pp. 1617. [Taronga Zoo.]
Zhang, G.Q., Swaisgood, R.R., Wei, R.P., Zhang, H.M., Han, H.Y., Li, D.S., Wu, L.F., White, A.M., and Lindburg, D.G.: A method for encouraging maternal care in the giant panda. Zoo Biology Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 5363. [A giant panda female at the breeding center in Wolong, China, rejected her cub immediately after parturition. After removal of the cub, she was systematically exposed to a regime of infant-related stimuli, including a surrogate toy panda, accompanied by infant vocalizations and urine, and the mother's own milk. The female displayed several measures of maternal behavior toward the surrogate, for example, spending 61% of her time holding the surrogate in positions typical for the species. There was some evidence that maternal proficiency increased across the four weeks of the experiment. Results also indicate that the female was responsive to both infant vocalizations and urine, but not milk. After a transitional period in which we assisted the female in her efforts to nurse and groom the infant, all maternal care-giving responsibilities were returned to the mother. Over the next three months, the pattern of maternal care followed the species-typical course of declining motherinfant contact, grooming, overall interaction time, and responsiveness to the cub's vocalizations. This study marks the first successful reunification of a giant panda mother with an infant separated at birth and, it is hoped, will serve as a model for similar efforts elsewhere with the giant panda and other species.]
Publishers of the periodicals listed:
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.
Thylacinus, Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquaria, P.O. Box 20, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia.
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.