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Squirrel monkeys,Ring Tailed lemurs,Meerkats & wallabies

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by garyjp, 15 Jan 2015.

  1. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    I know an unusual title to start a thread and in a way I'm playing devils advocate. I reckon every collection in the UK has at least one of the above four on display and in some cases they have all four.
    I was always bought up on the ethos that todays modern zoo is about preserving and breeding many species of endangered fauna throughout the world with the intention of eventually re - introducing them back to the wild.
    Take the Ring Tailed lemurs for example up and down this fair land there must be close to 1000 animals living here and many are in non breeding groups so this some way detracts from what a Zoo is all about. Also I ask a question where animals are breeding and successfully there perhaps is an abundance of say male Gorillas - what is happening to these animals? Should perhaps our larger/older more established Zoos perhaps have a little or big sister down the road = London/Whipsnade or should perhaps one of our smaller zoos should hold all the excess animals or perhaps we should have a new seperate park for when these animals could be moved on or dare I say go about returning them to the wild.
    One thing is for sure apart from hobbyists going to the Zoo is another form of entertainment and zoos have to be financially viable so us the public expect to see certain animals - a difficult act to balance . Your thoughts please
     
  2. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    Other than specialised collections, I can only think of one zoo that has none of those 4, Howletts. It doesn't have Asian small clawed otter either, which last time I looked were the 2nd most common mammal in the UK.
     
  3. Teddy Dalton

    Teddy Dalton Well-Known Member

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    older male silverbacks are usually retired to retirement colonies and younger ones moved into their groups to replace them. when new zoos open or decide to house a new species for the first time they usually get surplus males (such as dublin zoo getting their first okapi) some species it doesn't matter how many animals are in the colony, only the dominant pair will breed, it's just a matter of how long they live and how many of their offspring the enclosure will hold. ring tailed lemurs in my opinion should be an excellent candidate for rewilding... an artificial 'wild' population in Georgia has shown that they can adapt readily to live outside of standard captivity. imo the particular species you have listed aren't too much of an issue as the 3 primate species will self regulate their breeding to a degree and many zoos can let their wallabies run wild over much of their grounds if they choose, and live in very large groups... neutering is also an option ;)
     
  4. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    This is what/where I'm trying to find out where are these retirement colonies and where are these young group of males/females kept . Where are all these new zoos it would cost a fortune to open one?I'm not picking on these species in particular but its interesting what you say about Ring tailed Lemurs in georgia perhaps we could have a release programme there if they are not endangering the indigenous wildlife that is if we cant get them back to madagascar. it seems morally wrong to keep animals that can self populate as they do. The other thing is as soon as we start neutering we are going against what a zoo is about. I'm just posing the questions thats all
     
  5. Teddy Dalton

    Teddy Dalton Well-Known Member

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    yeah if you look at st. catherine's island in georgia they are there in semi-wild conditions and have adapted nicely. i think longleat now has all male gorillas, but in the US St Louis Zoo formed a bachelor troop in 1990, Cleveland created one in 1994, and Zoo Atlanta followed in 1996. Other zoos with bachelor groups include Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Santa Barbara Zoo, Knoxville Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, St Paul’s Como Zoo, and Birmingham Zoo. Several zoos with gorilla exhibits in the construction phase, such as Sedgwick County Zoo and Henry Doorly Zoo, plan to house bachelor groups. (taken from louisvillezoo.org)
    it is likely that any new zoos opening in europe, or any existing zoos looking to house gorillas for the first time, will start with a bachelor group for a few years and then 'graduate' to housing breeding groups similar to what looks like will happen sedgwick county and henry doorly.

    as far as neutering goes, it might be the best option in for example a habitat that has a capacity for 20 lemurs, to stop the alpha pair breeding (although a vasectomy my be better to make sure he stays alpha) when they are at capacity, that way there will be no more reproduction until they pass on and the beta pair take their place as the breeders of the group when there is space.
     
  6. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Bachelor groups have been in existence for Gorillas in Europe zoos, for many years now. In UK there are two groups at Port Lympne, one at Paignton and the most recently formed at Longleat. A look at a Gorilla-related website like 'Gorillasland' will show you all the ones in Europe too- there are at least half a dozen nowadays.

    But there are still problems housing young upcoming males. There has been controversy recently when about ten young males in European zoos were castrated under EEP guidelines, in an effort to allow them to stay longterm in their natal groups, to reduce the pressure on having to move them as they grow. In the UK Chessington now have two young males in this category in their group. This is a policy which is not condoned in the USA or by their Gorilla SSP which have never done it there.

    Nowadays Zoos are also requested to keep bachelor male groups as well as breeding groups( if they have the space/funding that is) as another way of alleviating the problem, but as you said, more zoos are keen to have a proper social breeding group if they can. They are being encouraged more and more to take surplus males as a first step though occassionally a zoo will still manage to bypass that if they have serious intentions to keep breeders only.

    In Gorillas at least ,what to do with all the surplus males is now a considerable problem.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2015
  7. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    And as well as gorillas it will be/is a problem with young bull elephants.
     
  8. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    There are many similarities/parallels between these two species when it comes to their management in captivity.
     
  9. Teddy Dalton

    Teddy Dalton Well-Known Member

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    i think that if you had careful management of gorilla breeding groups then you could eliminate the issue quite readily, if you limited breeding groups to 1.3 (plus youngsters) and had bachelor groups of 5 males, you could have 5 zoos with 1.3 breeding groups with only 2 needed to take the 10 surplus males. zoos that want gorillas but have too small an enclosure for a 1.3 group could instead have a pair or trio of males, zoos that want to keep gorillas for the first time could take on retired breeders and surplus males for a minimum of 10 years (or the death/transfer of all but 1 of their males) before getting females for the remaining silverbacks. large zoos that want to keep larger breeding groups then a 1.3 family could be obliged to also house surplus males. one facility i can think of that could be great place to house surplus or retired males is monkey world. with all the space at zsl whipsnade they could house a bachelor group as well as the breeding group in london. it could also be worth looking into the possibilty of letting zoos that aren't part of the eep/eza programme to breed them house surplus males either after retirement or until such time as they are required.


    elephants are probably a much trickier matter due to the size alone, i'd imagine the only way that this could be alleviated would be if there were a few zoos with enough space willing to house a decent size herd of castrated bulls so as to avoid fighting amongst each other. i'd imagine that only 2-4 such facilities would be required in the whole of the uk.
     
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I'm rather surprised Monkeyworld have never applied to keep Gorillas. They would be an obvious choice for a male group IMO- their policy is not to breed from their Apes nowadays as a rule so would not want a male/female group, but could still contribute very usefully by holding some surplus males. They have very good experience with Apes and room to build a good enclosure too.

    Although your model for keeping Gorillas sex ratio-wise sounds ideal, in reality it probably wouldn't work. For a start few zoos would be prepared to build smaller enclosures to house just 2 or 3 males. I think most breeding groups are regarded already as ideal if they have 1.3 animals(+young) but some are much larger of course. The problem remains that there are still many young males growing up in the breeding groups all around Europe, that will not be required for breeding but will still need to be rehoused in future. A lot more than the number of zoos prepared to outlay the expense of building the necessary standard of housing required for them probably.

    Elephants- I don't think its possible to castrate male Elephants.

    Maybe this part of the discussion should be moved as its nothing to do with the title of the thread ...
     
  11. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I should add that although this has been done in some instances, it is not routine and certainly not ideal. Removing a breeding silverback from his established family must create a degree of trauma. 'Retirement colonies' as such don't really exist, either the silverback concerned has to then live alone or possibly with some younger males if they prove compatable. A lot of zoos would still prefer to keep their breeding male longterm and exchange offspring as the alternative.
     
  12. Teddy Dalton

    Teddy Dalton Well-Known Member

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    re: off topic-ness, i think we're ok as we're sticking broadly with the same theme, it has just been expanded to include more species that are probably as common relative to the amount of facilities that can house them as the smaller species mentioned in the OP.

    i would imagine that in the wild that younger, fitter male gorilla would oust older males after a decent tenure, forcing them either to live a solitary life or join with other lone males (similarly ousted individuals or males that have left their family group upon maturing and have not yet taken a harem of their own) this information i have heard in a few documentaries and was also stated in the show 'wildlife at the zoo' about taronga zoo which was moving its proven breeding male on from his harem and getting a replacement from france, and they had moved him to a bachelor group of retired males 'like what would happen in the wild' as his genes were well represented enough.

    on elephant castration being impossible, if that is true then i'm sorry i hadn't heard of that being the case.
     
  13. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Re: gorillas
    I know of no documented example of silverback gorilla being evicted from his group by a younger male in the wild. I also know of no bachelor group of young male gorillas staying in the wild for a longer time. This is projecting behavior of humans on gorillas. Only in human societies an old CEO resigns and is replaced by a young CEO. ;)

    What happens in the wild is that young males stay in their natal group much longer than in zoos. Then they slowly 'drift away', and spend several years alone, trying to get a vacant territory. Then they spend several further years trying to convince females to join them.

    If zoos wanted to re-create natural behavior of gorillas, they should build facilities with several compartments. Young males could stay next to their natal group and then other groups. They would be observing and learning social behavior and forming friendships with their future females. Zoos should then keep older males singly for several years. Then they should take several years introducing adult female gorillas to the new group. Time delays would solve the 'problem' of 'excess' males.
     
  14. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad this thread has started an interesting conversation. Personally I think it goes against the grain that zoos need to neuter males of any species and if we are getting o such numbers as perhaps been suggested with gorillas or elephants and there is nowhere left in the zoo population worldwide then perhaps we should think about a programme of re introducing into the wild which is what modern zoos should be aspiring too.
     
  15. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    That may be the case sometimes, but male Gorillas are still fully fit and capable of defending their groups well into middle or older age. Sometimes one or more adult sons are still living in the group too and one gradually becomes the dominant male, but the old group leader stays on in the group. In captivity when this happens the male has no choice when either- he may still be relatively his prime and far from being ready for 'retirement.'

    In the case of Taronga Zoo, they were indeed going to removed the male 'Kibabu' from his group and form a bachelor group with two of his sons. The part about 'as would happen in the wild' was pure propaganda on the zoo's part to allay any public disquiet over their intentions.

    In the event they formed a better plan- sending Kibabu with two of his wives and young children as a small group to Mogo Zoo- IMO a much better/kinder outcome for him. Rotterdam did similar with their old male Ernst and one/two of his old female partners. I prefer this method if possible.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2015
  16. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    It is possible to keep maturing males in groups with their fathers still in charge even in Zoos. I think wild groups often contain more than one silverback in this way.The removal of males at a much earlier age in zoos- sometimes necessary, sometimes not IMO.
     
  17. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Why are male gorillas removed earlier than would occur in the wild?

    That sounds like a brilliant idea Jurek, and would be a very impressive exhibit, multiple gorilla families housed in adjacent enclosures.
     
  18. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Space constraints, and equally important, if a bachelor group is being formed, the males need to be still quite young if they are going to get along together You can't normally mix adult or maturing silverbacks together, only one with younger males.
     
  19. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    On elephant castration, as elephants have internal testes it requires complex surgery rather than "two sharp bricks", but it is possible.

    I don't know what effect this would actually have on the elephants though.
     
  20. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    It is a similar arrangement to Hippos- and some attempts to castrate Hippos have resulted in death.