Join our zoo community

Woodland Park Zoo elephant herpesvirus'....

Discussion in 'United States' started by patrick, 4 Jul 2007.

  1. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Nov 2004
    Posts:
    2,856
    Location:
    melbourne, victoria, australia
    seattle's woodland park zoo has lost its youngest zoo-born start attraction at the age of just 6. hansa the elephant died a few weeks a go due to an previously unknown form on herpes.
    read the zoos post-mortem press release here.....

    Woodland Park Zoo Press Release

    once again the issue of elephants raises the question of what exactly zoos are good for anyway...

    david hancocks, former woodland park director had this to say...

    Hansa's short life one of deprivation

    interestingly there is no mention of the fact that woodland park was breeding asian elephants in the presence of an african female. i would be interested to see if anyone considers this a contributing factor given what some of our english fellow forum members have said about the situation over there with africans beng a major cause of death amongst young asian
    elephants.

    in any event, i posted this just to remind anyone (who doesn't subscribe to zoonewsdigest) that this elephant debate is happening in virtually every western zoo that houses them. few zoos escape the criticism and of those that largely do, it only takes a failure such as this to reignite the debate.

    in my opinion, by zoos not answering to the most obvious and simplest of public expectations, then they are only shooting themselves in the foot. exhibit upgrades don't keep the public satisfyed for long when underlying issues are not really being addressed. its not hard to understand why so many people are anti-elephants-in-zoos per se, when so few zoos demonstrate an example of what people want to see.

    for me its not so much about wether or not they can but more a case of wether or not they do.

    i wish all these small city zoos would stop wasting so much bucketloads of precious money on elephants and put it to better use on something a little more productive.
     
  2. kelvin

    kelvin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    7 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    141
    Location:
    Sydney
    with this herpes virus, does it require elephant-elephant contact to cause infection, or is it carried in the soil/food/water etc. i know some viruses such as anthrax can lay dormant in the soil for years only to cause devastation at a later date. this could be an implication for breeding asians at dubbo.
     
  3. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    26 Nov 2005
    Posts:
    2,201
    Location:
    Australia
    kelvin, that is absoultally right, and that's also why there is no plans for intergration of burma and the 2 remaing afri cows, despite behavioral problems in the asiastic cow (very smart, and extremely dominant).

    when i was on work experience at dubbo, i found that so much care was taken to stop the spread of disease between the 2 herds. as the africans wre actively free contact management animals, that meant that then working with asians (strictly protected contact only- not touching of elephants) the keeping staff were very careful. they had to dress up and down to leave and enter each barn, had a disinfection foot bath of shoes, and 2 differnt sets of boots for each barn. in my opinion a very smart move, and the safest way of ensuring the animals never contatced the disease. (goes to show really how much the staff love there animals- as does managment)
     
  4. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    17,824
    Location:
    england
    I've asked the same question but still not sure of the answer. My guess is that any zoo that houses both species carries the danger of it- apparently only for the Asians though?

    My guess is Port Lympne here in the UK gave up their Asians because they realised it was impossible to prevent the virus being carried from the Africans at Howletts, whether by foodstuffs, vehicles keeper contact, air or whatever, -even visitors to both the parks?(only 25 miles apart)

    the only 'safe' method seems for a zoo to keep only Asians with a rigorous policy of screening them from anyone/anything having contact with Africa elephants, not easy in a zoo.
     
  5. Hadley

    Hadley Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    13 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    254
    Location:
    London
    I speculate here, but I imagine the reason the Asian herd at Port Lympne was sent away was because of the complete failure of the breeding programme - the death of an adult days after she gave birth to a stillborn calf, from the virus, which killed the first surviving calf, then 2 years old, must have been the last straw. They may have wanted to get the calf born that April out of the collection in case another outbreak claimed it as well. Port Lympne has a good record with many species, but really they should have given up on their Asian elephants after the first half a dozen stillbirths back in the 1990s. They had a lot of space, but hardly any indoor space, and it always seemed very exposed up on that hillside, especially in winter, when they would be shut back in by mid afternoon.
     
  6. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    17,824
    Location:
    england
    You are exactly right on everyhing here...- I obtained the 'press release' about the Asian elephants leaving Port Lympne( this was not made public e.g. on the website) and essentially it admitted they were 'giving up after so many failures'.

    You are spot on about the enclosure too. I've commented about this elsewhere- its poorly sited, very exposed and the indoor housing woefully inadequate. I think they should have upgraded it a long time go, and unfortunately it hasn't been altered at all before they installed the African elephants.