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leadbetters possum

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by jay, 30 Mar 2006.

  1. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Hi
    did anyone see the article about the leadbetters possum? I don't know how truthful it is but according to the article, the second last possum in captivity died this week. Apparently in the 80s and early nineties there was a thriving captive population with colonies at various zoos and some even sent overseas. However the zoos got slack and let the colonies die out. You can find the article by doing a google news search. I'm not convinced of its veracity but if it is true then it's not a good rap for zoos
    Jai
     
  2. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    leadbeater's possum...

    hiya jason,

    for those of you who want to read it, heres the article in The Age;

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/natio...es-in-captivity/2006/03/27/1143441090537.html

    and a longer article at...

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=93229


    this is the stuff i whinge about constantly -

    one of australia's most endangered species, and yet the zoos somehow could not co-ordinate their efforts to keep the species alive in captivity. none ever released into the wild.

    i recently read an article about american zoos allowing their populations of endangered primates die out, even though the AZA has them on the "high priority" list. it spoke of how most zoos still just look after their own interests and don't communicate with other zoos and quoted examples such as zoos de-sexing animals that would be valuable to a breeding program in another zoo (so that they can keep the animal in their troop), zoos aquiring the members of the species but never getting around to actually trying to breed them (sound familiar?) and other zoos not being interested in holding the species, choosing a non-endangered yet more attractive primate species instead.

    this stuff really shits me!
     
  3. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    I understed what you are saying Pat its sometimes hard to follow were some of the zoos are going with the species they are keeping, I am a bit surprized that our National parks did not run a breeding program for the Leadbeaters possum as they do for other endangered native animals. I get the feeling some zoos seem to just lose interest in breeding some endangered species like they have with the pygmy hippos, we had at one time a small but breeding group in this counrty in most of the major zoos, and now there are less than a handfull in our major zoos, Taronga has had their two females alone for quite a few years and even the younger female they have that was born there has not had any male to breed too, I too am not real happy with them having endangered animals with little or no atemp at breeding them.
     
  4. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    yeah, the hippo thing gets me too. when i was a kid i remeber melbourne having about four pygmy hippos next to the elephants. after they built that really nice two seperate exhibits for them in the african rainforest the pair never bred again. this is despite the design of the new exhibit incorperating off-exhibit facilities for breeding.

    sure, often we don't know the individual history of animals (maybe tarongas are related to melbournes or adelaides etc..) but with no hippos being born for well over a decade, you think that whever the scenario is, there is a bit of slackness going on.

    ask keepers why an animal has no mate and they will usually throw their hands in the air and say "that's what we keep asking!!"

    this was the case when i asked about melbournes malayan tapir.

    it may often come down to the there's no more room for offspring argument - which only strengthens my argument that they need to start focusing on creating that room even if its off-exhibit out at werribee or monarto somewhere.

    why did adelaide and taronga choose to import different species of endangered langur when melbournes had for a long time held a breeding family of endangered javan langurs?

    our zoos need to phase-out species so as to create more room and stregthen our breeding programs for certain species - ARAZPA have recognised this as a priority. instead though, our zoos seem intent on importing new species, many of which i find unneccersary.

    philippine spotted deer - we already have many asian deer species that look very similar (like chital) and the population of this species doesn't really need an australian CBP just yet - the OS programs are still growing.

    asiatic wild dog or dhole - we already have african wild dogs, maned wolves and dingos well representing the canid family. we also have plenty of asian carnivores. why see importing them (right now) as i priority?

    in the case of the leadbeaters's possum, there really can be no excuses other than that of an appalling failure of management.
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2006
  5. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    yes Pat i do agree with you, you would think that with only a small number of zoos in our region they would be working far closer togeater than they do, I feel the mangement is to blame on this, maybe there should be more meetings between the zoo people, say every six months?. there would seem to be something really lacking here, COULD it be because our zoos are goverment run that there could be no one with a real passion for what they are doing? OR could it be that there are so many pen pushers in these departments everything just gets bogged down?, what ever it is it needs addressing. I am getting the impression that the private zoo are doing a better job in many ways, maybe its because the people running their zoo have a greater passion for what they are doing instead of the feeling " its just another job", Look at Mogo zoo AND John Aspinalls two zoos and even Australia zoo, maybe these private zoos with owners how are deicated to what they are doing with a passion that is lacking the these larger state run zoos, I can really see why so many keepers in the state zoo get really fustrated and throw there hands up in the air at times.
     
  6. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    yeah maybe.

    ARAZPA's policy is to, above all other species, prioritise native australian species and endangered species in need of a captive breeding programs. since the leadbeater's possum was both (and since their are no northern hairy-nose wombats in captivity) one could argue that our zoos have failed at managing the captive population of the most priority species in australian zoos!!!!

    if they can't even manage a possum that breeds very well in captivity -it doesn't give me much faith in them managing anything else - like elephants!!
     
  7. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Patrick
    thanks for posting the links, the public access computers that I can use at work don't have the facility for cut and paste.
    The ;eadbeatters possum sage really astonished me and captures exactly what you you have said to me in the past and posted on the message board. What were the zoos thinking? The only possible thing I could think of is that the possums are a 'political' issue in that their home range is entirley within an area of logging. Perhaps there was quiet pressure on the zoos from the State Govt to phase out breeding programs for the possum? I would like to know more, which zoos kept them etc.

    Why zoos get enthusiastic about species and then let them drop is something I cannot understand (pygmy hippo, bongo, malayan tapir) We should have viable breeding groups of all these species. Certainly Taronga, Melbourne and Adelaide have deicated space to the Malayan tapir and I'm sure that there would be room for their offspring elsewhere. Mogo seems to be the dumping ground for many animals from the State zoos ( unwanted bears and brazillian tapirs from melbourne, snow leopards from Taronga, chimps from Bullens etc) Perhaps the State zoos should create a support program for these private zoos so that they can afford to take in the excess youngsters. An example that will occur soon is with the sumatran tigers.
    Melbourne, Auckland and Dream world all have pairs now that would be expected to breed in the next couple of years, and I would like to see the NSW pair have another litter and Perth is or was looking for another animal to mate with their young one so there will be several litters to find homes for. Australian zoos have almost reached capacity for these animals and yet that doesn't seem to stop breeding programs.

    Jai
     
  8. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    The snow leopards that were moved from taronga, were in my opinion dumped there by Taronga. The female is unable to breed, perhaps because of early use of contraceptives. So though Mogo has an excvellent breeding record, she wasn't moved there because of that. Oh and I am not knocking Mogo, it is an excellent place and shows, again, what a dedicated couple can do, and unlike Irwin, without lots of money. In many ways I prefer Mogo to the big State zoos of Melbourne and Taronga.
    Jai
     
  9. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    i agree jay,

    taronga put that young female snow leopard on contraceptives so that they could have both animals on display together without the female becoming pregnant too young. this is an un-natural situation for many species and can lead to the animals becoming sexually disinterested in eachother in the long run. slowly zoos seem to be understanding this (melbourne built extra off-limits yards for its tiger enclosure and only displays one at a time now), but it was a stupid thing for taronga to do nonetheless.

    i wonder why the taronga male was also moved? was he infertile as well? if not lets hope he will breed at mogo.
     
  10. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    the two snow leopards at taronga replaced a brother and sister pair from melbourne in the early 1990s. the zoo's statement was that it didnt know the effects of that contraceptive drug at the time, and has since discontinued it's use.
    as for the leadbeaters possum...i think this is a sad scenario but the blame should not be on the zoos.
    i think it should be on the state government.
    on the plus side the zoo breeding program, which was founded with wild-caught animals does provide us with a baseline of information should the program need to be restarted. in 1989 taronga zoo was talking abut this reintroducing this species; at the same time many european zoos including london and prague were engaged in the program. but this didnt occur-political pressure or no safe habiat left to reintroduce? i wonder.
    my issue is that we shouldnt need a breeding pogram at all. the threat facing these animals is not extinction by stealth, ie, foxes, cane toads or disease, its habitat destruction. when analysts are predicting a 90% decline in numbers by 2025 unless logging stops now, what hope would zoos have saving the species. the leadbeaters possum needs political intervention, not a cbp that goes on interminably until the wild population is so reduced and fragmented that it becomes vital. if logging stopped now-this species could potentially recover by itself. the way things are going, this species looks like it could become one of the 'living dead'.
    we are supposed to be a developed nation that cares about our wildlife-victorians should not let this happen. if it were koalas it wouldnt happen. if it were grey headed flying foxes it probably would. the possums should be introduced to the botanical gardens ;)
     
  11. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    whos fault?

    glyn you make some very valid points regarding the threats to this species - it is habitat destruction and that alone (whether it be bushfires or more importantly logging )that threaten the survival of the leadbeatters possum. the government is almost entirely responsible for this species decline and its endangered status.

    however, i cannot see how the zoos where not responsible for the failure of the captive breeding program. as newspaper articles mentioned, the possums bred well. our zoos speak of the importance of holding populations of other exotic species extinct in the wild (wild horses and oryx for example). how they managed to fail so miserably at co-ordinating the management of a captive population astounds me. certainly sending animals overseas just seems like a rediculous thing to do.

    often zoos are not working hand in hand with governments - they are doing what they can not because it is their responsibility, but because they want to, because they hope that one day if things change they might be able to help a species recover. regardless of lack of action from the government to stop what it was doing - it seems a real shame the zoos seem to have forgotten about what i believe, should have been one of their biggest conservation priorities.
     
    Last edited: 10 Apr 2006
  12. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    i agree

    hey i do agree
    i reckon zoos are currently doing a very good job at evolving into conservation agencies, at a very fast rate. the work that our ozzy zoos do makes me proud and somewhere deep inside kindles a bit of hope.
    zoos often use the analogy of being like arks-well todays zoos have alot more to think about than noah ever did. theres limited space on this ark and money too.
    i think the principle you make is good and valid. i also stand by my point that having had a succesful breeding program for this species gives our scientists and conservation biologists a good baseline of information to go on in terms of both field conservation and in the future another CBP.
    howvever...
    one of the first things zoos say is that it is no good breeding animals in captivity if there is no habitat left. at this stage, probably the most crucial thing zoos victoria could do is to begin an anti-logging campaign in partnership with other agencies looking at conserving the possums habitat, and perhaps display the species in an advocacy capacity.
    another thing is that if australian zoos decided to go it alone in this cbp genetic theory would suggest that you would need to maintain a population of hundreds of animals. the status of this species in the wild should make it category 4, that is a species being bred in captivity as fast as possible to build numbers for release.
    but release to where? the majority of our cbp for exotic species deal with animals under threat from poaching, disease and introduced species. the leadbeaters possum, as we know, faces the wholescale destruction of its very specialised habitat. the programs for przewalski's horse, oryx and onagers, to name a few, have worked because there is somewhere they can be returned to.
    the fact that there is nowhere to put any captive bred possums in the wild would instead make this a category two species, critically endangered being held long term in captivity. with such fast generation cycles, lack of holding capacity and without fresh genes from the wild this program would fail without either
    a)overseas zoo involvement to boost holding capacity
    b)major off exhibit breeding facilites.
    a comparison between the leadbeaters possum and mahoganny glider, and the golden lion tamarin and cotton top tamarin illustrates the category 2 and 4 scenario. the golden lion tamarin and mahoganny glider both being similar.
    the leadbeaters possum needs to be managed like the cotton top tamarin if it is to persist in captivity long term.
    its not hard to see why they died out. this possum needs the involvement of all australian zoos and wildlife parks plus a couple dozen more overseas. it also needs its habitat to be protected.
    taronga zoo constantly makes the point that 'working in partnership with other conservation agencies zoos can acheive real results'.
    this possum needs the greens, zoos, parks and wildlife and the general public on its side...and its habitat loss balanced against the logging economy. for the minute, this species continues to slip towards extinction, but there are, as we know many other priority native species in australian zoos and fauna parks that need cbp too. i think the phasing out of the leadbeaters possum program was probably a strategic decision by ARAZPA to enable zoos to commit their resources to other species where a cbp would have more of an effect.
     
    Last edited: 12 Apr 2006
  13. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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  14. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Possum conservation

    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/454739.stm

    Too bad about the last of the opossum . That is truly a sad day .

    I know that this will not bring back extinct animals , but I found this while searching for something else , and I made sure that I transferred this link so you could read about Londons breeding of opposum . Some of you would be interested ....