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Wellington Zoo Wellington Zoo News 2019

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Zoofan15, 23 Feb 2019.

  1. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Wellington Zoo's Last Hamadryas Baboons Euthanised

    Wellington Zoo makes difficult decision for Baboons

    Today the extremely difficult decision was made to euthanise the group of four male Hamadryas baboons at Wellington Zoo after their welfare was compromised after a breakdown in their social structure.

    The breakdown of the baboon social structure has led to a critical risk situation for each of the four baboons with serious fighting causing injury and resulting in high levels of anxiety. We have an important duty of care to ensure that all animals we care for at the Zoo experience positive welfare and unfortunately for these baboons this is no longer the case. When it comes to a decision like this we need to make a decision before the animals begin to suffer, in this case it is a matter of urgency.

    This is not a decision that we have made lightly and it is very tough on all of us but particularly those who dedicate themselves to caring for our animals. However, after extensive international research, lengthy discussions with our animal care, animal science and veterinary teams and other animal welfare experts, we are certain this is the kindest and most humane action we can take. Baboons are a social primate and the current situation is untenable for these animals.

    Wellington Zoo Animal Welfare Committee Member Dr Ngaio Beausoleil who is Co-Director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre and Associate Professor (Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare Science), School of Veterinary Science at Massey University said, ‘It is Wellington Zoo’s responsibility to have the knowledge and experience to do what is best for the animals in their care. In this case, as difficult as the decision was, this was the most humane decision for the animals.’

    The baboons have been well cared for by our expert animal care team but there were no further interventions we could make for these baboons. Various options, like re-homing the baboons through the regional managed breeding programme, were explored but these were either not possible, or would not improve the welfare state of the baboons.

    It’s an incredibly sad day for all of us at Wellington Zoo, and although it’s been a very distressing decision to make, our utmost regard for the animals’ welfare made this decision necessary. It is our ultimate responsibility to ensure our animals live good lives without suffering. Our Zoo team and our community loved the baboons and we will all miss them terribly.
     
    Last edited: 23 Feb 2019
  2. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It's very sad to see Hamadryas baboons disappear from Wellington Zoo's collection after their decades long association with the zoo.

    I was greatly disappointed when Wellington Zoo revealed plans to phase out Hamadryas baboon a few years ago, with the export of all females to Australian zoos and wondered if this would be the inevitable fate of the remaining males, as they would be difficult to place in other troops.

    I had the privilege of seeing their troop before the export of the females, when they had a large troop and several infants. It's a decent sized enclosure and easily accommodated the approximately 20 individuals they had at the time.
     
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  3. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    What was the reason they wanted to phase this species out?
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know their current plan, but they were going to create a walk-through enclosure for Ring-tailed Lemurs on the site.
     
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  5. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I believe that is still the plan, with Ruffed lemur sharing the exhibit as well.
     
  6. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    This research paper from 2003 has lots of interesting information on Wellington Zoo’s baboons (including the exhibits they occupied):

    https://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10063/2425/thesis.pdf?sequence=2

    “Wellington Zoo has housed hamadryas baboons for 30 years, during which time the colony has experienced three types of enclosures:

    The initial colony was comprised of four individuals. Built at a time when zoos were measured according to the number of species they held in their collection, the first enclosure was a small, basic concrete display. Directly adjoining the hamadryas baboon enclosure, in classic taxonomic arrangement, was the chacma baboon (Papio cynocephalus ursinus) exhibit. The hamadryas baboon colony at this time was extremely agitated.

    In 1987 the hamadryas baboons were relocated to a bigger enclosure that had been built in the 1930’s as a tiger exhibit. They remained in this second enclosure until February 2000.”

    It was noted the second exhibit (1987-2000) had a carrying capacity of 14 baboons; while the third exhibit (2000-2019) was 23 times the size and was built with the intention of allowing the troop to grow to 30-35 individuals through reproduction. It was designed to replicate the arid highlands of North Africa.
     
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  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Locations on the maps of the time:


    In the early-mid 1980s the baboons are at F9 (roughly where the current Chimpanzee enclosure is):

    [​IMG]
    Wellington Zoo map 1980s | ZooChat


    In c.1989/1990 the baboons are at lower-middle below the lion symbol:

    [​IMG]
    Wellington Zoo map c.1989/1990 | ZooChat


    The 2000 map showing the current location of the baboon enclosure (at the very top of the map):

    [​IMG]
    Wellington Zoo map c.2000 | ZooChat
     
    Last edited: 23 Feb 2019
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  8. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It’s really interesting to see the changes over the years (in both species and their location).

    Do you know how old the current lion exhibit is? It appears to be in the same place on all three maps (though it’s harder to tell on the first one), and the research paper notes the second baboon exhibit (shown in the 1988 map to be next to the lions) was built in the 1930’s as a tiger exhibit. I imagine big cats were displayed in adjacent cages during the early days, as they were in most zoos.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    The current lion enclosure would be between 1990 and 1994.

    The first map (c.1985) and the second map (c.1989/1990) pictured above show the old lion cages. The 2000 map shows the current lion enclosure, placed well above the old location (above the camel symbol and behind the bear symbol on that c.1989 map). The 1994 map - not pictured above, but it is in the gallery - has the lions at their current location.
     
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  10. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It’s not mentioned in this article but the four baboons were:

    Les (M) born 19/09/2002
    Rafiki (M) born 24/09/2003
    Habib (M) born 07/12/2004
    Osiris (M) born approx 2011
     
    Last edited: 23 Feb 2019
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  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Some small notes from a visit to the Wellington Zoo today (last visit was about a month ago I think).


    The Eastern Water Dragon in the "tool-shed" in the Australian area is still not on display. It seems like several months now.


    The chameleon tank at Hero HQ is still being used for locusts. This is purely my supposition, but I guess the Veiled Chameleons are now all dead - they were all confiscated smuggled animals and chameleons don't have particularly long lifespans. The ones at Wellington were the only ones in the country. I don't think there are any Jackson's Chameleons left in the country either - the species was down to just two or three males in 2017/2018, at Ti Point and Auckland Zoo.


    The Leopard Gecko tank at Hero HQ (unoccupied on my last visit) has now been completely redone for Bolivian Blue-legged Tarantula. This is one of the problems with the design of the Hero HQ building - the graphics which cover the outside of the exhibit are for very specific occupants. If those animals can no longer be displayed then the graphics are simply pointless and confusing for visitors. Photo below (from 2013) of the side which displays the Leopard Gecko tank.

    [​IMG]



    All the signage on the baboon enclosure has been removed, but oddly there didn't appear to be any sort of notice that the enclosure was empty. I saw several people trying to find animals in there.


    The most interesting news is that an entirely new exhibit is being constructed! See this thread: Wellington Zoo - New Mystery Enclosure...
    [Edit: the new enclosure will be for Capybaras]
     
    Last edited: 4 Mar 2019
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  12. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    There was still at least one Jackson's Chameleon on display at Auckland Zoo at end December 2018, and hopefully it is still alive.
     
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  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Hamadryas baboons aren't 'trending' in zoos anymore, whereas walkthrough exhibits for Lemurs allowing contact with people definately are. Seems like by getting rid of most of the baboon troop these males were left and with a fairly inevitable end for them. I think its sad that the zoo decided to disband an exhibit which would have contained lots of interesting behavior, in favour of something with more 'modern' appeal.
     
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  14. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It was a fascinating troop in it's height. As noted, the exhibit was designed with the intention of allowing the troop to expand to 30-35 baboons. While I don't believe they ever reached this number, they would have got up to at least 20-25 at it's peak. The troop was the subject of numerous studies/research papers on animal behavior over the years due to the large number of individuals.

    I remember thinking that the males' days were numbered from the moment the females all left in 2015. It's a sad but inevitable fact that males are difficult, if not impossible to place in established troops (which already have males).

    It's hard to tell what direction they're heading in in the Australasian zoos. New Zealand is down to one holder; but there's still a few holders in Australia. Melbourne Zoo have a large, breeding troop; and I believe Perth and Darling Downs Zoo have decent sized (breeding?) troops. Adelaide is making slow progress at expanding their troop (currently 3.1), largely due to issues with one of the adolescent males.

    Here are two of the research papers:

    https://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10063/2425/thesis.pdf?sequence=2

    https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/41336407.pdf
     
    Last edited: 10 Mar 2019
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  15. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the fact these remaining males have now had to be euthanased, the whole thing just seems sad, disbanding an interesting social group with lots of behavioural interest, in favour of a simpler 'contact' exhibit because its deemed more currently 'in vogue'. Such a shame the zoo couldn't have both. I do find the zoo's 'crocodile tears' over the euthanasia rather difficult to accept at face value- they created this situation themselves by disbanding/breaking up the group in the first place, here they make out it was a situation the male baboons created among themselves. Not the whole story...
     
    Last edited: 10 Mar 2019
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  16. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell what direction they're heading in in the Australasian zoos. New Zealand is down to one holder; but there's still a few holders in Australia. Melbourne Zoo have a large, breeding troop; and I believe Perth and Darling Downs Zoo have decent sized (breeding?) troops. Adelaide is making slow progress at expanding their troop (currently 3.1), largely due to issues with one of the adolescent males.

    Yes the troop at the Darling Downs zoo is a good size which are breeding well also they did import two new females from Poland a few years ago which have bred. I believe a much larger exhibit exhibit is in the making. I have noticed on my visits that the Baboon exhibit seem to draw a bigger crowd with people appearing to stay longer at this exhibit than others. There is also a smaller troop at Wildlife HQ north of Brisbane which I believe have bred a number of times.
     
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  17. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    There’s an article here about the Capybara’s at Wellington:

    Too rude: the Wellington Zoo capybaras are going at it like rabbits

    The author is predominantly concerned with their reproductive behaviour but it mentions a couple of pieces of information:

    - The pups have (still) not been named

    - Iapa (the mother) is not on contraception and free to breed again

    - Birth control measures (castration) may be used on the males in the future, meaning the male pups won’t necessarily leave the herd

    It mentions the ‘two’ females are not on birth control. Not sure if something has happened to Vara or Guapa, or maybe one of them was left behind when the herd split?
     
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  18. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Wellington Zoo lion lock-up breach leads to departure of senior manager

    An experienced and respected Wellington Zoo manager has left his job after two lion enclosure locks were not latched.

    Zoo Trust board chief executive Craig Ellison confirmed the incident, in 2018, involved two gates in the lion enclosure being left unlocked. A third gate had remained locked, meaning the public were not in danger.



    The article says that "sources" name him as General Manager of Animal Care, Mauritz Basson, and that in addition there have been multiple other key staff members quitting over the past year due to bullying from management.


    There is a further article here about the latter situation: Former staff claim bullying at Wellington Zoo prompts exodus of key staff

    One former staff member listed 17 key departures in the past 12 months - "and there are probably more that I can't remember" - including the general manager of animal care and science, four at The Nest Te Kohanga (hospital), 12 of about 20 fulltime members of the animal care/keeping team, and three of the animal science/welfare team.
     
  19. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  20. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    This is exciting news. He is obviously an intended mate for Zuri (2015); though they are closely related:

    Zabulu (1998) x Rukiya (2001) > Forrest (2007) > Sunny (2017)
    Zabulu (1998) x Rukiya (2001) > Zuri (2015)

    Surely Taronga Western Plains Zoo; Monarto Zoo; or Werribee Open Range Zoo could have provided a more distantly related male (Acknowledging the giraffe population of the region is very inbred).
     
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