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trouble with breeding elephants

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by jay, 18 Apr 2005.

  1. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    As we all know, breeding programs for elephants don't go too well, either in Europe or the US.
    Houston Zoo in the Us has been trying to breed it's elephants for several years now. Whilst there have been at least three births (possibly four) the calves have not survived. Their latest attempt has also met with failure when Bella, an 8 month old calf was put down. Her life was difficult from the start as her mother rejected her and theerfore she had to be hand reared, not easy as finding the right milk formula is very difficult. Then last week she stubled, fell and broke her leg. A 2 1/2 hour operation was attempted but it was not successful and the zoo had to do what was right by her.
    A successful birth does not make an elephant breeding program
    Jason
     
  2. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    elephants need to learn too....

    i think it goes to show how equally important it is to have not only reproductively healthy elephants, but mentally healthy as well. a happy, mentaly stimulated elephant in the right social environment is much more likely to be a good mother than a unsocial, aggressive and bored animal. many of the animals in northern hemisphere zoo's are kept in small indoor "barns" for legnthy periods during europe and north america's severe winters. no doubt this has a very negative impact on the elephants well-being. likewise it highlights the problem in zoo's of there not being many animals with experience with reproducion. when their are no older animals with the knowledge to tutor young mother elephants, they often reject their offspring. this is one of the challenges australia's zoo's are hoping to overcome with the importation of the elephants from thailand. apparently they have been carfully selected for not only being young, healthy animals, but also for having first or second-hand experience with raising calf's. hopefull they will be able to teach this to the (very few) potenial breeders already here in australia.
     
  3. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Shanti, the female elephant that was the mother of the calf that had to be euthanised is again pregnant. Lets hope that this time she is successful in raising the calf. I'm not sure where the Houston zoo is so don't know what the wintersare like. The interesting thing is that Shanti was herself born in captivity. Perhaps the im[portation of elephants into Australia can be justified by providing experienced mothers for the animals already here?
    Animal rights groups disaprove of the pregnancy, "a mother already rejected a calf, shouldn't be allowed to breed again" etc. However the fact that the preganncy was unplanned, without the zoo being involved says to me that she wanted to be pregnant.
    Jason
     
  4. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Houston Zoo

    I have actually visited this one .
    Houston has very mild winters ( if they exist at all ) similar to what I would imagine Coastal QLD to be like -- their summers are really hot and humid . So weatherwise there shouldnt be any problem for elephants .
    I visited there about 15 years ago -- the zoo is as flat as a chappatti - there are no hils for about 80 miles in any direction . But when I was there , there was major redevelopments taking place which involved about 50% of the zoo .
    The zoo is totally surrounded within a city park .

    One American Zoo that (somehow) has been quite successful in breeding elephants is Portland OR , which has damp cold winters , with some snow . Apparently the snow doesnt seem to put a damper with the elephants -- they like to play in it .

    Houston Zoo would be very similar to Melbourne Zoo in sizae , age and reputation . I am not aware of any Open range Zoo in the region .
     
  5. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    snow and elephants...

    quite a few zoos in america (including the famous elephant sanctuary in tennesee) let their elephants play in the snow. the asian elephant is actually found in cooler climates than the african in some parts of its range. certainly i encountered them frequently in areas of india than was easily as cold as melbourne on a winters morning. i have read of their footprints being found in the snow in the himalayan foothills of assam. not supprising considering the asian elephant (though not the african) is a close relative of the extinct wooly mammoth!

    however i believe these animals would not spend extended periods in the snow and i the winters of north america and europe to be much more severe than lowland india. the resulting months spent indoors for zoo animals in these regions must be very boring for the poor elephants. north american has most of its north covered by arctic glaciers that keeps
    the rest of the continent freezing during winter when cold air is pushed south from the pole. melbourne is close to being on the same latitude as washington DC, but whilst they can get blanketed in snow, we can grow palm trees in our backyards! (though we still like to complain anyway!)
     
  6. usa jon

    usa jon Member

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    Elephants in America

    Living in America, I have visited many of the zoos you are talking about. For Asian elephants, there have been many problems here with breeding. Bella is an unfortunate incident and if I remember right, in the last 10 years, only a handful of calves have survived. Raja in St. Louis (born in 92) has successfully bred with 2 females that are now due in the next year. So, in some instances, populations are becoming generational. In the last 6 months, American media has been very critical of northern zoos in having elephants in their collection. However, many of these zoos have had success, including Columbus, OH which recently had their first calf. Because of all the pressure from animal rights organizations, zoos have been forced to make a decision, either get rid of the elephants or completely renovate their exhibits. San Francisco and Detroit have sent their elephants to sanctuaries. 40 other zoos are planning to renovate their exhibits within the next 5 years, including Washington D.C. I see this as a major step toward providing elephants with the mental and physical stimulation needed to provide a healthy life. With all that we know know, the new exhibits should be a heathly environment for elephants in the future. The main idea is that zoo exhibit design is a learning process. Zookeepers like myself and executives learn from each new endeavor making the next exhibit even better.
     
  7. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    It's really good to hear from your perspective Usa Jon, especially from the zoo keeper side of things. As you would have read we have some come concerns over the importation of elephants into Australia, the suitability of keeping them in city zoos and why Australian zoos appear to be working piecemeal over their plans for breeding elephants here.
    To me, one of the most positive things that zoos could do for elephant breeding would be to bring together a number of animals, breeding and non-breeding, to a place that provides a large space for them. One of the best examples of what I am talking about is the Ringling Brothers Circus, elephant breeding centre. Though not a fan of performing elephants (hate it), they have provided the right citcumstances and this has shown with at least 16 births, including second generation. And it appears, though I could be wrong, that they haven't had too much problems doing so. They also don't appear to be plaugued by the Herpes virus problem that seems to kill many of the calves. Would love to read more of your comments
    Jason
     
  8. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    American Zoos

    I agree with Jay , it is great to have a Zookeeper on our forum , that can tell things as they are from a zookeepers perspective .
    And I agree with Patrick that many North America cities have winters that are too harsh for elephants to be outside for days on end -- although the occasional snowfall wont be a problem .
    I have not been to Detroit , but I have been to the zoo at Houston , San Diego , San Francisco and Washington DC
    I was really disappointed with San Francisco Zoo -- it is worse than Auckland Zoo , even though the city is a very affluent one . There were too many old bearpits , and bars/cages mentality . There was little, if any, variation in enclosure size for the animals that need more space than other species , and there was too much concrete everywhere .
    Even Washingtons "National Zoo" is in serious need of major revamps , and its title suggest that it is better than it really is , but it was far superior to San Francisco Zoo .
     
  9. usa jon

    usa jon Member

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    The "National" Zoo

    I have never been to the San Francisco Zoo, but I know they are revamping a lot of the zoo, starting with their new African savannah exhibit. As for Washington D.C. I was there just a few years ago and was extremely disappointed. It was disheartening to go the zoo in our nation's capital and see that. Even though it is in our capital, the real national zoos are San Diego (because is so advertised) and Bronx (by far the best of the 50+ zoos I've been to). The zoo was having so many problems with their director, in the span of 3 or 4 months, they had several questionable animal deaths including zebras dying from starvation (yes....starvation) and red pandas from rat poison in their yard. But that director was fired and they have now begun a multimillion dollar project which will replace 1/3 of the zoo. This is the Asia Trail which will provide exhibits for their Asian elephants (including a growing bull), clouded leopards, sloth bears, giant pandas, small-clawed otters, japanese salamanders, and fishing cats. A lot of money from the Smithsonian Institute has gone to them because of the bad press. I agree with Jay in that the most important aspect of an elephant exhibit is meeting their social needs in a spacious atmosphere. The AZA has always had exhibit size restrictions, but has now instituted a policy where no accredited zoo can have less than 3 elephants in their collection. I am familiar with the Ringling Brothers breeding centre, and it has been very successful. Another great place is the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwold, Tennessee. They have thousands of acres for their elephants, but as of now, it is only used to house elephants that have had poor health or been in bad situations. It is more of a retirement community, and they do not believe in breeding their elephants. Maybe in the future, that will change. As for a whole, the best zoos in American for breeding elephants are Portland (even though they haven't in a while), Dickerson Park in Missouri, Indianapolis (which I am very familiar with, living close to and visiting quite a bit), and St. Louis (young male with large herd of females). Columbus is growing to be a great facility with a wild born bull and a huge outdoor and indoor space to live in. San Diego Wild Animal Park has great facilities for their wild born herd, North Carolina has a few acres for their herd, but no success yet. However, the Oakland Zoo is widely known as the best in elephant care. The bottom line is that of these zoos, only Indianapolis has had CONSISTENT recent success with their elephant herd. Two calves were born via AI several years ago, one passed away from an incurable intestinal disease, the other is flourishing. Two adult females are now pregnant, and due later this year and early next year. As for Europe, the one zoo that comes to mind is Chester in England. They seem to have new calves all the time.
     
  10. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    American elephants

    yeah , I know that there is no such thing , but I am referring to elephants that are in North America zoos .
    It was good to read your comments about the USA zoos . I have been to Spingfield MO , but hadnt been to their zoo . I am pleased that it is having some success with elephants , as it is a relatively small city for the US !
    I believe that Fort Worth Zoo has had some elephant breeding successes , but do you know of any successful breedings in Seattle , Miami , Brookfield , Toronto zoos ?
    I know what you mean about a mediocre " National Zoo " It certainly doesnt live up to its name .

    Anyway , if you have had a good look through the forum , you would note that Auckland Zoo tries to keep its elephants as happy as possible , even to the point of taking them out of their enclosure , and taking them for a walk around the zoo-- sharing the paths with the humans ; taking them offsite to an undeveloped area where they can do whatever they like (usually tear off branches and eat browse ) or used as bulldozers/heavy machinery to help with the contruction of new zoo exhibits ......

    Do you know of any US Zoo that has similar sort of programmes for its elephants ?
     
  11. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    are new exhibits enough?

    two european zoo's that come to mind with an excellent sounding elephant breeding program and facility are the affiliated howlett's wild animal park and port limpne wild animal park. both open-range zoos run large herds of african and asian elephants respectively and while howlett's have had 8 african calves born so far, port limpne are expecting their first two asian calves this year. being both in the UK, it shows that the weather issue can be overcome (though i know the UK has, through an effect caused by warm carribbean water being pushed northeast, milder winters than some of the american noth).

    i agree it's good to hear the perspective of a non-australasian zookeeper - keep popping in usajon!

    whilst i think its a great thing to hear that 50 usa zoo's are planning exhibit "up-grades" within the next 5 years, i'm still a little suspicious about the issue.

    over here in australia, we have some concerns about the new exhibits being constructed. whilst clearing the zoo's image with the much of the public, they are still far too small to maintain even a couple of elephants let alone a herd. the facilities (barn, medical etc..) are excellent, and i mean that, they are truly world-class - and the weather is perfect, but the enclosures themselves are not much bigger than the old ones.

    i believe elephants get bored, and i believe elephants enjoy lots and lots of space and a warm sunny day. many of these american zoos may now provide the animals with a better enclosure, but will they still have to spend months indoors? i'm sure we have all read about the extreme case of this situation - poor maggie in alaska zoo. or what about san diego wild animal park? to make room for their new established wild-captured afican herd, they sent their old elephants to an indoor, concrete barn in the north (chicago i think?) only to have two die shortly after!

    my pont is that sometimes what a new exhibit can do is effectively shelve the greater issue whilst not actually addressing many of the concerns people have with zoos ability to provide elephants with an enriching life..

    australian zoo's thought they could get away with this, however after a collective amount of about of tens of millions being spent at each zoo, they are now coming up against fierce opposition, albiet from a very vocal minority. nonetheles sthey are the RSPCA and others, and they are reasonably well-heard. this objection is because it doesn't matter how attractive the exhibit looks, many people just have a moral objection to keeping elephants in zoo's period.

    i don't - but i agree probably 99% of zoos with elephants today cannot provide for them adequately, nor do they have the finances, space, climate or social groupings to provide for them in the future.
     
  12. usa jon

    usa jon Member

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    Questions answered

    The easiest one is Brookfield. I've worked there, and grew up going to the zoo. It is really where I began my love of zoos, always has a special place in my heart. As of right now, they have two females, the third was euthenized 2 years ago when it broke it's leg. No one really knows how that happened. They think it was in a skirmish with another elephant and it happened as an accident, but no one knows for sure. They do not have the facilities to breed elephants. The Pachyderm House there houses elephants, 2 Nile Hippos, a pygmy hippo, a tapir, and 5 black rhinos (lots of breeding success with these rhinos). The house was built in 1934 and has only been sparingly renovated since then. It is cramped and old, but the keepers have added plenty of enrichment with a baobob tree outside and lots of training while indoors. No male has been housed since a large Asian male named Ziggy in the 70's. The house needs to be torn down so badly, but unfortunately, the zoo has other buildings/exhibits that have the same problems, and are worse. They are currently creating a capital campaign to solve all of these issues.
    As for the other zoos, I have visited Toronto and Fort Worth, but know of the other programs. Seattle has a fantastic facility built in 1991, and has one calf, via AI from a male housed at Dickerson Park in Springfield. This was their first and only calf and I am not sure what their plans are, she is now 5 years old. Toronto has a fairly large yard for a herd of 6-7 animals, and I know they have had no calves recently, but am not familiar with anything else. Miami has both African and Asian elephants, and a male in both species, but no breeding has been done. Fort Worth has had only one calf, in 1998, but has had a recent miscarriage. The AZA expert in elephants works at Fort Worth, so their care and handling is exceptional. I am also familiar with both those open range zoos in England, but have never visited. As for the zoos involving elephants in new activities, I know of a few that have done programs where the elephants walk through the zoo. This has been a success at many places, but Pittsburgh a keeper was killed during a morning walk, so that stopped them there.
    As for Maggie, I am familiar with the situation, I know it very well. The story has been all over the news here, in fact, the Alaska Zoo's idea is to build her a treadmill. This treadmill would cost about $250,000 and provide her a chance to exercise her sore joints. I understand why they don't want to move her, she is in her upper 30's and has been at the zoo for a long time, so she has accustomed to the climate and atmosphere. On the other hand, a treadmill is going to provide her with the physical stimulation, but not the social and psychological, so I don't agree with it. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but not in the best overall interest of the animal.
    As for the San Diego Wild Animal Park, they sent their 3 elderly elephants to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to a brand new renovated exhibit. They sent them to Chicago to make room for 8 elephants coming from Swaziland that were going to be culled. Upon arrival, one of these elephants gave birth to a male calf that would never have made it out of the womb. The reason that the WAP sent them to Chicago was more about convienence than a death wish. Lincoln Park was opening a new exhibit just at the same time the elephants were in the process of coming to America. Two elephants did pass away at Lincoln Park following their arrival, but their deaths were not necessarily tied to the move from a cold weather to warm weather zoo. The first died of Tuberculosis, a disease deadly among elephants (as I'm sure you all know). Zoos are required to do tuberculosis tests here, so either they missed it, or she contracted a case quickly. The other elephant died of what they called "complications due to old age". That may be a cover for something else, but she was 55, the oldest elephant in the country. I can understand why San Diego sent them away, that doesn't really bother me. What does bother me is Lincoln Park. They opened a new African Journey exhibit, replacing their old Large Mammal House, but the outdoor elephant and rhino yards were completely unchanged. The indoor areas were brand new, but the outdoor yards were not enlarged or anything. It was extremely disappointing. I do agree that many zoos have no business having elephants in their collection. The problem is simply this: Zoos are supposed to built for the care of animals, but are essentially built for the public. Animals that come to zoos are the ones people want to see, and elephants are at the top of that list. So to make money and keep the zoo up and running, elephants are brought in, and sometimes their care is sacrificed for the success of the zoo.
     
  13. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    room for improvement...

    what you say is very true.

    here in australasia, we have many of the same issues but have the blessing/problem of being much, much smaller. for all the hundreds of zoo's there are in the states, australia and new zealand combined only have six government-funded city zoos! (and a handful of other good private zoos and open-range zoos).

    having such a small amount of zoos with exotics can cause problems, breeding programs sometimes progress painfully slowly, especially when australia and new zealand have such strict quarrentine regulations.
    with such small amounts of holding space/animals, species run out of unrelated bloodlines very quickly. often our programs are linked with european programs, as is the way with our gorillas and sumatran tigers.

    so in australia everything is under the microscope, and elephants are no exception.

    i believe in the case of elephants our regions small size worked in our favour. our elephant exhibits were just as appalling as most zoos of the world, but whilst american zoos had hundreds of elephants to care for and hundreds of exhibits to upgrade, we had only four!

    of these four zoos that house (asian) elephants, 3 house bulls as well as females.

    of the four zoo's with elephants two have open-range sister facilities, and another plans on building one in the near future.

    i think australia had an opportunity to set a benchmark for caring for elephants in the 21st century. all the animals could be moved together at one of these open range zoos, with all the space they desired and a world-class breeding facility could be developed.

    but instead, all the zoos wanted to continue to display elephants and all the zoos wanted to continue to display them in the city, for exactly the reasons you mentioned in you last post.

    so now, (at least in the case of melbourne) we have these excellent 15 million dollar facilities for breeding elephants in the middle of a cramped zoo, just big enough to accomodate one bull and around six females.

    even say taronga, auckland, perth and melbourne zoos get their new elephants for their newly constructed exhibits. what are they going to do if they do breed them? where will they keep all these growing offspring?

    will they realise that they should have built a more spacious exhibit at an their open range zoo? a place that could continue to accomodate a growing herd indefinately.

    or maybe they could just send them to europe?!!
     
  14. usa jon

    usa jon Member

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    Cutting through the red tape

    I have heard much of what you are talking about in regards to the strict quarantine procedures Australia has. At Brookfield Zoo, they created the first exhibit dedicated completely to Australian animal back in the early 1970's. It now has kangaroos, emus, a double-wattled cassowary, echidnas, wombats, kowaris, a tree kangaroo, rodriguez fruit bats and various birds and reptiles. The keepers said it has always been difficult to get permits in the US to bring animals from Australia and vice versa. Maybe someday Australia will be able to send animals here and the US there to generate new bloodlines and a healthier more varied population.
     
  15. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    stingy australia

    yeah, i'm aware that australia is known within the zoo community worldwide for its stingyness in regards to sharing its native species. actually, i have read quite a bit about it and in part it is to protect our tourism industry. most people come to australia with wildlife high on their list of things to do. i guess there is an element of worry that less people will visit if they can see a koala at home, involved in the decision to refuse so many export applications.

    because our zoo's breed koalas by the dozen and they are very keen to trade them for elephants and the like. it's the government that says no.

    however, many australian animals just don't do very well overseas. most need a warm climate, many, like,koalas need specialised diets like eucalyptus, than again, needs a warm climate. kangaroos and wallabies are generally fine, but koalas really breed only in a few oversea's zoos (like san diego). echidna's are hard to breed even in australian zoo's. platypus die from stress so easily that it is impossible to get one to survive a plane trip out of the country! tasmanian devils were sent to the US some years back and refused to breed, the last elderly member of the species in an overseas zoo died in america a couple of years ago.

    still, i can think of many tough little australians (like the brushtail possum) that can survive almost on anything. at my local park the possums live entirely on european elm leaves and food scraps!

    i think the government has been loosening up somewhat of late.

    the tough restrictions on importing animals is for a differnt reason. our continents environment has evolved here in isolation since the dinosaurs. as a result our only placental mammals are bats (of which we have many), rats (who hitched a ride on floating logs from SE asia) and seals.
    we have no frogs of the genus ranidae (the most common worldwide), no land tortoises - none of many things. we do however, now have cane toads, dingoes (that came with asian seafarers and caused the mainland extinction of the thylacine and tasmanina devil), rabbits, mosquitofish, foxes, starlings, deer, camels are all doing their best at decimating the continents ecology. now fireants are moving in as well.

    even parasites like mange from dogs, kill wombats and other native animals.

    so our country is pretty tough with quarrentine for good reason. (the USA, i know, could do with the same!). it has not effected our zoo collections in regards to mammals or reptiles, but exotic birds are somewhat restricted.

    if you think were tight, you should see new zealand - not even zoo's are allowed to have snakes!!!
     
  16. usa jon

    usa jon Member

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    I can certainly understand why the government has these strict policies. I have heard of a few of these situations, others are interesting to hear. I realize it is very difficult to move animals to and from our two countries, I guess it was more a wish that these problems didn't exist and it would be fairly simple to transport zoo animals either way. It would be good for both countries, although I realize it's near impossibility. I have been to San Diego, and seen their koala collection, I want to say they now own around 80. They have many at the zoo, but then loan them to zoos around the country for periods of time to free up space for more koalas at the zoo. I was also fortunate enough to see all of the Tasmanian devils in the country while they were here. San Diego had a couple and so did Toronto. But the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana (about an hour north from where I live) had a few as well. I'm glad I could see them before they all passed on. Brookfield is having a tough time breeding their echidnas, a pair have been introduced for over a year now and nothing has happened. I do think platypus are some of the neatest animals around and can't wait to get to Australia to be able to see one, but I have read a lot on their difficult husbandry, as you said.
     
  17. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    platypus and echidnas....

    yeah platypus are interesting, the only two zoos who have ever bred them (heavllesville, a native animal zoo in melbourne and taronga zoo in sydney) both did so in enclosures that are out-door and almsost semi-wild. seems the trick is to just leave them alone. in fact, despite being so fragile, they are actually still quite common (though you can still consider yourself super-lucky if you see one) and many live in and around the rivers of melbourne city.

    interesting fact; the most expensive animal to feed in melbourne zoo is not the elephant, tiger or gorilla but the humble platypus - i guess they do have an exclusive diet of shellfish!

    echidna's are tricky too, though most zoos don't display them this way, i suspect you need a few males for each female. in the wild you can often see a "trail" of echidnas following eachother through the bush. they do this for days and it's actually a feamale on heat being followed by a a buch of potential suitors. i would expect they would be easier to breed if they were given larger enclosure sizes with more males to females so she could better choose her mate.

    melbourne zoo are trying to breed their echidnas in this way, they share a very large out-door exhibit with the tree-kangaroos. taronga zoo has the only pair of endangered long-beaked echidnas in the world. unfortunately they have had no sucess with breeding this endangered species from new guinea.

    i would like to see better co-operative breeding programs between US and australian zoos too. i know we have sent a few rhino's (as well as kangaroos) back and forth over the past few years.

    here in austraila we actually cull kangaroos and koalas are so numerous on some offshore islands (where they have been introduced) that they are causing severe ecological damage.

    the tasmanian devils are the worry at the moment, our largest native mammalian land predator is being decimated by DFTD (devil facial tumor disease). suddenly the population is droppingin tasmania so quickly that all the zoo's are attmpting breeding on the mainland as an insurace.

    i have read much about invasive species both here and in the US and i find it strange that the laws are so relaxed over there. the everglades are now full of burmese pythons, caiman alligators, rhesus macaques, budgies (parakeets), african clawed frogs, iguanas, cunban anoles and just about anything else you can think of.

    in australia it is illegal to own an exotic amphibian or reptile (other than an axolotol), though many natives can be kept - most with a small native licence fee.

    still an old lady tripped over a boa constrictor in the street the other day and established colonies of red eared sliders started turning up all over queensland!
     
  18. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    further response from Auckland Zoo re elephant project issue

    Nigel,
    The purpose of the CMP (Captive Management Plan) is to utilise and help build the expertise in all areas of elephant breeding, hence this includes both natural and artificial measures. The region already works with a team of German specialist who have been extremely successful with the AI program of elephants in both North America and Europe.
    The import of a bull into the facility does require modification to the exhibit and will require extension of the current footprint - which is all under discussion from both a strategic design and CAPEX availability stand point.
    Maria

    Please note that this is the response from Auckland Zoo after my asking for further explanation of their earlier response .
    I do not neccessarily agree with it , but it will keep forum members informed about events on this side of the Tasman .
    Jon and/or Patrick , do you know of the German experts that Maria is talking about ?

    The other day Jay told me of Steve Irwins plans to house elephants at Australia Zoo - in a 125 acre enclosure ! That would be good if he can pull it off , despite his style and bravado etc .
     
  19. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    melbourne, victoria, australia
    the melbourne zoo keeper mentioned a "team of specialists" that were going around assessing all the regions elephants for fertility. probably the germans you mentioned.

    i knew of steve irwins plans for elephants ( i think he might have since bought the bullen's animals) and the enclosure sounds good. i don't know why, but something just doesn't sit right with me about australia zoo. addmittedly, i have not visited, but i think its the anthropomorphising of the animals and the "show" aspect that turns me off. somehow i feel it's marketed more as a theme park about animals and the irwin family than an actual zoo. as steve has made a name for himself being hands on - that's the theme of the park. i saw some of those photos on the website of the irwinesque keepers playing with the tigers. - a bengal tiger pouncing on a person looked very dangerous!
     
  20. usa jon

    usa jon Member

    Joined:
    15 Feb 2005
    Posts:
    6
    Location:
    Muncie, IN, USA
    German Scientists and Steve Irwin

    The only German scientists that I am aware of are the ones that did the original AI procedure at the Indianapolis Zoo. They work at the Institute of Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research (IZW for short), in Berlin. The two main doctors were Dr. Hildebrandt and Dr. Goeritz. I am positive these are the guys involved in the process described by Melbourne, I mean how many elephant veterinary experts can be in Germany?

    As for Steve Irwin, he was huge here in the States for a few years. He has a TV show and several spinoffs, and a Hollywood movie, so on and so forth. He really lost a lot of respect when he took his 6 month old son out into the crocodile pen and held him while feeding an adult saltwater. Believe it or not, I have yet to meet a zookeeper here that likes him, in fact, they hate him. However, I am on the opposite side of the fence. I don't always agree with his showmanship, there is a lot of show involved in what he does. But I think he adds the show to get his message across to visitors. Americans are drawn to flashy things, so a man capturing wild crocodiles is enticing. I'm sure he has inspired many kids to become involved with reptiles, and not just because you can wrestle with them.

    One thing that you cannot question is that he has a gift. He has an uncanny ability to connect with animals and predict their behavior. Another thing that sets him apart is that he knows animals very well, many shows here on animals have adventurers who give incorrect information. Steve is very knowledgeable and I've never heard mistaken facts from him. i could go on and on about him because I've learned quite a bit about him, but the bottom line is that in my opinion (which again, is shared by few in the profession here) Steve has the best interests of the animals always at heart, and by watching the show the Crocodile Hunter, it is undeniably evident. He's at the top of his profession, both in showmanship and animal husbandry.
     
    Last edited: 30 Apr 2005