Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by birdsandbats, 29 Jan 2018.
Happens all the time with the common opossum at Smithsonian, too.
In regards to zoo visitors there are many things that irritate me such as :
Visitors throwing rocks or objects at the animals : There is actually a very loveable old black caiman in Sorocaba zoo who was blinded by a member of the public throwing a rock at it in order to get it to move. The irony is that some "animal rights activists" then have the gall to look at the caiman and claim that it is evidence of neglect or cruelty by the Zoo , a totally pathetic assumption that could be corrected if they would learn to listen rather than yell.
Visitors throwing litter into the enclosures or on the grounds : Again , it is horrible to see the effects of this on an animal that has ingested trash.
Visitors feeding the animals despite the numerous signs warning them not to.
Visitors crossing the safety barriers : Last year I caught a couple of kids who had crossed the barrier behind a Giant otter enclosure and were leaning over the enclosure. If one of them had fallen in I have no doubt whatsoever that the otters would have killed or at the very least severely injured them. Afterall it has happened (albeit in slightly different circumstances) in Brazilian zoos before. I was very angry about this, livid in fact, but I calmly told them why what they had done was wrong and why it shouldn't be done.
It is annoying and frustrating when visitors pass an enclosure and don't bother to read the information or make incorrect or ridiculous identifications of the species, however, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. In many parts of the world literacy rates are not particularly high and many visitors are members of the working class who have not been afforded the educational opportunities that some of us take for granted. It is so easy (and intellectually lazy in itself) to be elitist towards those we deem as "stupid ignorant people" but lets not forget that these are paying members of the public who have parted with their hard earned money which goes to supporting zoos, ex-situ and in-situ conservation etc.
Also in most cases if you speak with these people and gently correct their error in a nice non "ivory tower" way (obviously not everyone is going to respond well to this) and tell them something interesting about the species then you are not only teaching rather than criticizing but you also make a small contribution to improving the public knowledge about the natural world. What has really made this clear to me was all the environmental educators at zoos that I have known over the years who really do their utmost to help fulfill this role (which is often undervalued or neglected in the zoo world) while also having the patience and humility of saints.
Walking around at school today, I overheard a kid saying and I quote
Kid 1’I don’t get why zoos have to have specific names for the animals’
Kid 2’ I know right’
Kid 1’ I mean a tigers is a tiger not some stupid ‘special’ name like bengal or Chinese’.
My friend was randomly talking and upon hearing special and stupid in the same sentence ( I have Aspergers) I stopped in my tracks and glared at the 2 kids who when they saw me stop and walked in the other direction.
This might just be the stupidest conversation about animals I've ever heard.
I had never thought that giant otters would be that aggressive, but I can imagine they could be relatively dangerous if provoked. Do you know of any circumstances in which the species has attacked humans?
It has happened from time to time; a member of staff (a cleaner, if I recall correctly) was severely mauled by an escaped giant otter at Tierpark Hagenbeck in 2012 and left with life-altering injuries, including the loss of faculty in one arm. Two keepers sustained less-severe injuries whilst trying to rescue her.
Blimey. Poor woman. I am genuinely surprised.
I recall two additional reports: Otter
ALL Otter spp are classed as Category 1 dangerous species by the UK Zoo Licensing Act, with exactly the same level of classification as all big-cats, bears etc
Any otter can inflict severe injuries, especially if it's a species that 'gangs up', like Giant and the commonly seen Asian Short-clawed. The latter have been known to kill a gibbon in a mixed enclosure.
I know this has already been said, but during my trip to the zoo this weekend, I heard so many people call the siamangs monkeys I had to walk out of the building and take some deep breaths...
Yes it was.
This species can definitely be highly dangerous when it comes to defending their territory or family groups whether under captive conditions or the wild. Part of their natural behaviour under wild conditions is the mobbing of predators such as jaguar , puma , caiman and humans and in this they are fearless.
In regards to big cats it is mostly just noisy and threatening displays from the otters and I haven't heard of any recorded physical fights between them (but who knows ? , so much of their behaviour and ecology is understudied and so goes undocumented). In terms of caimans these reptiles are often physically engaged and end up either wounded or killed.
Occasionally you hear contemporary reports of the giant otter mobbing people sitting in canoes or fishing on riverbanks in the Pantanal and Amazonian regions. Of course there are also many historical reports that exist within indigenous folklore and many accounts made by colonists and explorers of this kind of behaviour occuring.
Nevertheless, I haven't heard of any people being killed by these creatures in the wild. Giant otters are most definitely not an animal with a ready propensity for aggression to humans and in most circumstances they are typically extremely shy , cryptic, and avoidant of people. In terms of zoos , things are slightly different. Under these conditions they are restricted within an enclosure which they show a strong territorial instinct to defend. As such, when a person falls into this space it is interpreted as a threat and the animals respond very aggressively.
In my limited personal experience with this species I've never encountered any aggression towards me, just grouchiness and snappy behaviour especially when they are waiting for their tillapia. However, I have heard keepers talk of giant otters being vicious and unpredictable at times.
There have actually been several attacks by these species in zoos in Brazil , the most famous example ended in the death of a man :
1978 - An off duty Brazilian police officer visiting the zoo of Brasilia jumped into an enclosure to rescue a child who had falled in.This particular enclosure housed a family group of giant otters and included pups, which may go explain why the man was attacked so badly. The man was severely attacked and later died in hospital from an infection of the wounds he sustained.
This is a retrospective tv news report about the event :
Jovem é resgatado de fosso de ariranha, no DF - G1 Distrito Federal - Vídeos - Catálogo de Vídeos
Here is a retrospective newspaper article with photos about the case :
Morte de sargento que salvou menino no Zoo completa 40 anos
You guys will like this one. I heard someone referring to Geoffroy's Marmosets as apes
Which zoo was that? I only know of one incident at Bronx Zoo (Ebony langur) and one at Bristol Zoo (Golden lion tamarin).
And the death of a zookeeper at São Paulo Zoo in 1969; both cases are mentioned in the link I provided above.
I don't like when kids go around being smart alecs and dramatically introduce their parents to an enclosure and what animal is in their (normally wrongly...)
I have heard seemingly animal nerd kids tell their parents that a leopard is a jaguar, an elephant is a hippo, and, my personal favourite, telling them, that actually, manatees are very closely related to pronghorns
Am I the only person on the forum who thinks that non-experts getting primate terminology wrong is actually quite reasonable?
Along one common line of attack, apes are more closely related to old world monkeys than old world monkeys are to their new world counter parts, so the distinction is an artificial one.
Along another, anyone who doesn't know what a lemur is is obviously going to assume they are monkeys.
To be fair, they don't actually know that what they are saying could actually be scientifically more correct than another...
They are still wrong, and although I don't think primate mistakes are necessarily howlers (no pun intended ), I still think that they should be corrected or learn the correct classifications, if only a sketchy outline, otherwise you do look like an idiot if and when you end up saying that a loris, lemur or ape is monkey or vice versa
Look like an idiot to who though? Surely only the virtue signallers in this thread, or to small children who can be very adamant about classification in general.
Yes , that is correct , there was also a death of a keeper in Sao Paulo zoo in the 60's and then the later death of a member of the public in the late 70's that I've already mentioned. It has happened over the years but infrequently and obviously it is not as nearly as common as attacks by big cats , great apes or elephants on keepers or members of the public that fall into enclosures etc.
It is kind of like the incidence of keepers or the public who are attacked and killed by the giant anteater (another neotropical species that can be highly dangerous) or jaguars, in the sense that they are rare events that seldom happen, but when they do they get a lot of media coverage and sadly this often leads to the reputation of the species being maligned.
Conversely, I think one of the problems when it comes to members of the public is that they can develop a simplistic perception of animals like the giant otter as these loveable and cute creatures due to them being such fun to watch (especially when zoos have glass viewing windows where they can be watched swimming underwater) and by observing how gregarious and loyal they are in their social groups.
Obviously in zoo communication and outreach it is ultimately primarily a good thing for an animal to have a positive association for visitors. But the downside of these simplifications (no fault of zoos really as there are always visible warning signs around enclosures in most institutions ) can lead to people underestimating them or doing things like leaning over safety barriers or trying to pet them or whatever.
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