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Zoofan15’s Guide to Iconic Australasian Zoo Animals

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Zoofan15, 31 Jan 2022.

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  1. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Zoofan15’s Guide to Iconic Australasian Zoo Animals

    Every Friday I will be making a post featuring an iconic Australasian zoo animal.

    This guide will be partly subjective, though it will fit a loose criteria of animals which are known by name to a range of people. While it can’t be all Jamuna’s and Mzuri’s, you won’t find a chimpanzee that died at the age of two back in the 90’s or an unnamed Goliath stick insect.

    This guide will be predominantly mammals, but it will also feature birds and reptiles.

    First post coming 04/02/2022.
    Saffron
     
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  2. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    Can we suggest any?
     
  3. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Sure, via PM. I have a loose idea of at least the first 10 planned out but any suggestions are welcome (as long as they meet the criteria of being known to a wide range of people). :)
     
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  4. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Week One: Jamuna

    Key information:

    Name: Jamuna
    Species: Indian elephant Elephas maximus indicus
    Facility: Auckland Zoo
    Born: 1917
    Arrived: 1923
    Died: 1965

    Life history:

    Jamuna was born in India in 1917 and donated to the zoo by John Court in 1923.

    John Court first offered to donate an elephant in August 1922, prompting the zoo’s director, L.T Griffin, to write to the Chief Justice of the High Court of India, Sir John Buckmill, to identify a suitable specimen. The zoo promptly received an offer of a six year old female named Jamuna from the Calcutta Zoological Gardens.

    Jamuna, along with her mahout, arrived in Auckland aboard the SS Waitemata in June 1923 and was initially housed at the council works depot, with reinforced barriers put in place to contain her.

    The following month, Jamuna became agitated after her mahout went out for the evening and pulled down water pipes, broke windows, over turned a wagon and partly succeeded in smacking down the entrance gates.

    The elephant house was completed a few months later and Jamuna gave her first ride on 10 November 1923. Through rides, Jamuna initially earned the zoo £200 per annum, against her annual food bill of £90.

    Jamuna lived alone for seven years until the import of a 13 year old bull named Rajah in November 1930. Rajah was reported to be a good companion to Jamuna, but was unfortunately shot in March 1936, after he became unmanageable.

    Jamuna lived alone for the next 16 years until the arrival of a seven year old female named Kassala in May 1952. She lived with Jamuna until October 1957, when she was sold to Bullens Circus. A high staff turnover meant she had received little consistent training and had become difficult to manage.

    In 1954, Jamuna became the centre of a much publicised incident where she killed a keeper, Frank Lane. Lane was climbing through the bars dividing the stalls when Jamuna idly swung her trunk, knocking him into a wall. She then swung her trunk again, crushing his skull. The incident was ruled to be a tragic accident and Jamuna, who appeared frightened in the aftermath, lived the rest of her life without incident.

    In August 1961, Jamuna was joined by an eight year old female elephant named Malini. She was to be Jamuna’s final companion.

    In late 1964, Jamuna deteriorated in health and was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance. She died 2 September 1965 from a fever contracted on top of her other ailments.

    Other facts:

    Jamuna was the first elephant held in a New Zealand zoo. She began Auckland Zoo’s 99 year association with elephants, which will end this year with the export of Burma and Anjalee.

    Early photos show Jamuna to have had prominent tushes (female tusks). In 1961, she appeared on the cover of Woman’s Weekly, where she still retained her tushes, which had grown large over her decades at the zoo.

    Jamuna was a household name throughout New Zealand. In her 42 years at the zoo, she gave rides to an estimated 750,000 children.

    To this day, the plaza outside the old elephant house is named after her; while visitors can dine in the old elephant house, which is now a restaurant. Jamuna occupied the stall on the left - which was later occupied by Ma Schwe and then Burma.

    Photo:

    upload_2022-2-4_17-55-42.jpeg Source: Wood, D (1992). A Tiger by the Tail - A History of Auckland Zoo 1922-1992. Auckland City.
     
  5. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I believe he came from the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania where he had previously arrived in a trade involving the last two Thylacines that went to London Zoo (only one survived the journey).
     
  6. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    David Fleay successfully bred the first captive platypus in 1944. Corrie was born to Jack and Jill.
     
  7. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    If you have suggestions for iconic animals for this thread, can you submit them via PM as requested in my post above.
     
  8. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Rajah was imported from the now defunct Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart. They had indeed received him in a swap with Chapmans Animal Dealers for Tasmanian tigers and a Bennett’s wallaby.

    He was originally named Jumbo after the more famous African elephant that was sold to PT Barnum by London Zoo.
     
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  9. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Week Two: Snowy

    Key information:

    Name: Snowy
    Species: Common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes
    Facility: Taronga Zoo
    Born: 1983
    Arrived: 1986
    Died: 1999

    Life history:

    Snowy was born at Wellington Zoo 07/03/1983 to Bebe. He was the sixth of Bebe’s seven offspring, all of which were sired by her father, Tom.

    Snowy arrived at Taronga Zoo 27/11/1986. With most of their community descending from a single male, they were in need of new genetics and so undertook what was to be a prolonged and difficult introduction of this juvenile male to their troop.

    Snowy’s introductions began with him and the other chimps separated by two sections of wire mesh. They could see, hear and smell each other; but have no physical contact. The keepers monitored the reactions of the community and those who showed positive behaviour were allowed into a raceway to interact with Snowy via the mesh. The first problem came when an infant male, Lewis, panicked and screamed for help. His mother, Lulu, rushed to his defence; grabbing Snowy’s arm through the wire and biting so forcefully, the arm was nearly severed. Snowy’s arm was saved as a result of three operations. While recovering, he contracted pneumonia which almost proved fatal.

    By June 1989, Snowy had been successfully integrated with all but the most dominant adults. The first chimpanzee to accept him was another juvenile named Shiba, who was two years older than Snowy. The community was run in two groups with Danny and the dominant females in one group; and Snowy in the other. Those who had accepted him rotated between these two groups.

    The initial plan was to build up Snowy’s support to sufficient levels for him to challenge Danny for the alpha role. This never occurred however, as Danny and Mervin (the next eldest male) were exported in 1992. This resulted in Snowy assuming the alpha role in 1992 by virtue of being the eldest male in the troop.

    There were challenges to Snowy’s leadership from the start. He had no family support; unlike Lewis and Gombe, who had high ranking mothers to support them in any conflicts. A third contender, Monte, sired one of the infants keepers intended Snowy to sire - Shabani.

    Snowy sired several offspring including daughters to Ficha in 1991 and 1995; a son to Lisa in 1993; a son to Chiki in 1995; and a son to Sacha in 1996. To further ensure Snowy’s reproductive success, Lewis was vasectomised in 1995 and Monte was exported in 1998.

    On 15/07/1999, there was an altercation within the group which resulted in Snowy falling into the moat. After sinking to the bottom, Snowy was recovered and rushed to the veterinary hospital, where staff worked for 40 minutes using oxygen therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to try and revive him. Sadly this was unsuccessful.

    Other facts:

    Snowy was at least 75% purebred. His sire, Tom, was wild born and bred with his captive born daughter, Bebe, to produce Snowy. It’s unknown if Bebe’s wild born mother, Yoka, was of the same subspecies as Tom.

    Snowy’s name remains a mystery. I’m guessing it refers to the white tuft chimpanzee infants have on their backside.

    Snowy was not an aggressive alpha male and rarely exerted discipline. Staff believed this was because he was an outsider in the community growing up and had no family to back him up when he needed it.

    Snowy’s favourite spot was a rock by the waterfall, which was later favoured by Lubutu during his reign as alpha.

    Snowy weighed 79kg at the time of his death.

    Photos:

    Snowy aged eight:

    Left to right Snowy the chimp at Taronga Zoo, with friend. April 10,... News Photo - Getty Images

    Snowy the chimp at Taronga Zoo. April 10, 1991. . News Photo - Getty Images
    ADF
     
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  10. steveroberts

    steveroberts Well-Known Member

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    @Zoofan15 That was so great to read, you have a really gifted flare with your writing seriously. Poor Snowy with Lulu nearly biting his arm off (and the moat drowning) but at least he managed to keep his arm (albeit near fatal pneumonia bout while recovering). Its cool that he was a non aggressive alpha even if it actually came from him arriving in the group as an outsider in terms of lacking family until he sired; from the sounds of it with Lubutu and his apparent easy goingness as an alpha (specifically from hearing he was good with the infant Chimps and would sometimes play with them) it seems Lubutu inherited some good traits from his old man Snowy (not just a love for the rock near the waterfall lol); awesome post
     
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  11. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Week Three: Chomel

    Key information:

    Name: Chomel
    Species: Malayan sun bear Helarctos malayanus malayanus
    Facility: Wellington Zoo
    Born: 1988
    Arrived: 1992
    Died: 2009

    Life history:

    Chomel was born 02/08/1988 at the Miami Metro Zoo (now Zoo Miami). She was transferred to the San Diego Zoo in 1989, before being imported by Wellington Zoo in April 1992. She arrived along with her intended mate, Bakti, who had been born at San Diego Zoo 17/09/1989.

    Chomel was initially housed with Bakti in a large concrete exhibit (34.8m x 10.7m) separated from the public by a 1m wide wet moat and viewing barrier. The terraced exhibit featured a waterfall, a dead tree and numerous logs and bark pits. The exhibit was initially serviced by two dens - the north den (4.4m x 2.4m) and the south den (4.9m x 2.8m).

    On 20/01/1996, Chomel gave birth to her first cub. The cub was heard via audio monitoring, but when Chomel was released from the den several days later, there was no cub - indicating she’d cannibalised it. The cub’s death was attributed to Chomel’s inexperience and inadequate privacy.

    On 06/05/1997, the remains of twins were found in the main exhibit. One twin was a male and found with several lacerations caused by the teeth and claws of an adult. It was full term, but a post mortem revealed it’s lungs weren’t fully inflated and it was likely stillborn. Only the paw of the second cub was found, though the cub’s pelt and several claws were later found in Chomel’s faeces.

    The next time Chomel began showing pregnancy signs, she was confined to the south den. Chomel was unsettled and became unnerved by any disturbance e.g. the keeper’s presence or when Bakti approached the den door. Chomel became very aggressive, charging the door and barking loudly. The pregnancy was revealed to be a pseudo pregnancy, though there were clear signs Chomel needed privacy if she was to successfully rear cubs.

    The maternity wing was connected to the main exhibit via the north dens and opened in September 1997. It was converted from a pre-existing disused bear exhibit, which had been isolated from the main public throughfare. The exhibit was a deep concreted grotto (14m x 8.5m) with bark chips covering the ground. It featured a large dead tree and numerous logs. It was serviced by a den (4m x 2m). Video surveillance allowed the den to be monitored without disturbing Chomel.

    It was decided in September 1997 to seperate Chomel from Bakti for a few weeks. Chomel was isolated in the maternity wing and appeared relaxed. She spent time foraging and rolling in the bark chips and her pacing decreased, which she used to routinely do while on exhibit. She spent the night in the cubbing den, typically entering at sunset and emerging at sunrise.

    Chomel give birth in the north dens on 11/12/1997. A healthy cub was observed via video surveillance, but Chomel showed no interest in the cub. An hour later, Chomel rolled on the cub, smothering it. When Chomel exited the den the next morning, no young were visible in the nest.

    Because Chomel had been in a reproductive state for over a year, a decision was made to seperate the bears for six months. They were reintroduced in August 1998 and observed mating in September. Two weeks later, Chomel became aggressive towards Bakti and was isolated in the maternity wing and north dens, before being reintroduced.

    On 10/12/1998, Chomel had been left with Bakti after showing anxiety about being separated from him. She gave birth the next morning in the south dens. Bakti was isolated in the north dens and maternity wing to give Chomel privacy. Vocalisation from the cub ceased 18/12/1998 and the den was later found to be empty, though Chomel’s nipples indicated she’d been lactating.

    Chomel came back into estrus and was reintroduced to Bakti. She gave birth to live male twins in the maternity dens 10/04/1999. To minimise disturbance, servicing of the area was suspended and a routine for feeding was implemented after Chomel became upset by a staff member arriving early one day. The cubs thrived and were noticeably vocal, especially when Chomel left the den to feed. They emerged from the den in June 1999 and progressed well in their development.

    Chomel’s cubs were named Arataki (Māori for leader) and Madu (Malaysian for honey) - honouring their ancestral home of Malaysia and their birthplace of New Zealand. Sadly, Madu died in May 2001, as the zoo were preparing to send him to Australia. It was discovered he had a hole in his heart. Arataki was sent in his place and subsequently fathered a female cub at the Canberra National Zoo.

    Bakti also died in 2001, which brought an end to the zoo’s prolific breeding pair. The zoo received a new male named Sean in 2004, who after an operation to overcome a reproductive problem, subsequently bred with Chomel to produce a female cub named Sasa on 22/09/2006.

    Chomel died 30/09/2009 at Wellington Zoo. She collapsed in her exhibit on 29/09/2009 with stroke-like symptoms and was euthanised the following day after she failed to respond to treatment.

    Other facts:

    Chomel’s twin births were considered statistically unusual for her species. It was suggested she was genetically predisposed to producing twins, being one herself.

    Chomel’s twin was called Ringo. He was transferred with Chomel to the San Diego Zoo, where he later bred.

    During a global study of 28 breeding female sun bears, Chomel was ranked as the most prolific - giving birth to five litters in 3.5 years. Chomel was the first female of her species in Australasia to successfully raise a litter to adhulthood and remains the most reproductively successful female in the region - producing a total six litters, with three cubs surviving to independence.

    Chomel developed a begging habit, typical of many captive bears. She would stand upright or walk bipedally, bobbing her head to solicit attention. This behaviour was initially directed at keepers, who fed her daily at the keeper talks; but later was also directed at visitors she noticed carrying food.

    Chomel would routinely use the moat as her toilet area, by backing over the edge. The most represented the buffer zone between her exhibit and the public and was believed to be her way of marking the boundary of her territory.

    Chomel weighed 85kg in 1997.

    The sun bears moved to a new exhibit in 2012, with Chomel’s old exhibit currently being renovated to house Snow leopard.

    Photos:

    Chomel (October 2002):
    upload_2022-2-25_15-6-16.jpeg
    Photo taken by @Chlidonias

    Sasa (March 2007):
    upload_2022-2-25_15-8-32.jpeg
    Photo taken by @ZooPro
     
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  12. Abbey

    Abbey Well-Known Member

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    Thank you @Zoofan15. A thoroughly extensive post on the life of the matriarch of the Australasian sun bear population. I knew that Chomel had lost/cannibalised cubs prior to the births of the surviving twins and Sasa, but it is very interesting to learn about the steps the keepers took to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery and rearing of the offspring.

    I visited Chomel’s granddaughter, Mary, only earlier this week at Taronga Zoo - she was chilling in a hammock at the front of the exhibit.
     

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  13. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks @Abbey. I remember how excited I was to see this species when I visited Wellington Zoo for the first time and Chomel was every bit as impressive as I anticipated.

    The maternity annex was of great assistance to the zoo’s efforts to breed this species as it allowed Chomel the privacy she needed by reducing distrubances (which new mothers of this species are very sensitive to).

    I remember how nervous the zoo was approaching Guy Fawkes in 2006, in case the noise of the fireworks caused her to kill her then six week old cub.

    Thanks for sharing the photo of Mary. I enjoy visiting Sasa, though I’m disappointed by the region’s disinterest in breeding this charismatic species, which is the perfect addition to any South East Asian precinct.

    Given twin births were theorised to be an inherited phenomenon via Chomel’s maternal line, it’s a great shame Sasa has never had the opportunity to breed.
     
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  14. Abbey

    Abbey Well-Known Member

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    Sun bears, on the surface, seem like an ideal candidate for a breeding program in Australasia. They fit the south-east Asian theme many city zoos have as you've mentioned, clear links to in-situ conversation through Save the Bears organisations, and there really aren't that many bears in Aussie/NZ zoos. Plus there has been a regular source of wild-born individuals through rescue bears, although this might be less so now with more bears staying in their countries of origin rather than being expatriated to zoos abroad.

    At the same time, there have been plenty of struggles with breeding. I wonder to what extent the troubled histories of many of the potential breeding bears play into this (although some rescue bears, like Mary's mother, Otay, have bred), as well as other difficulties such as what Chomel experienced, and whether these factors have contributed to the decline of the breeding program since the early 2010s.
     
  15. steveroberts

    steveroberts Well-Known Member

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    @Zoofan15 @Abbey Definitely think Perth Zoo took big advice from Wellington's experience with Chomel in their planning with their designing of Bopha and Jamran's homes, though am not sure how much actual interaction those two have been allowed to have throughout each year with them both having separate exhibits. With the birth of Maly in 2008, I don't actually know anything about Bopha's experience with mothering Maly except to know that Maly survived, but now she's had the vast majority of her life as a solitary Sun Bear in QLD without getting to have a single cub of her own, not sure if there's a story behind why she has never had a chance to interact with another Sun Bear i.e ended up being keeper hand-raised or if its just the way things have turned out for Maly.
     
  16. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Bopha raised Maly to adulthood and by all accounts, did an excellent job despite her own difficult background. Maly not being placed with a mate is down to a lack of interest in continuing with this species in the region - the same with Sasa at Wellington Zoo.

    Personally, I think Wellington Zoo are mad to consider phasing this species out. The only positive is the region’s main zoos change their mind with the wind (or more specifically a change in management) and by the time Sasa is at the end of her lifespan, sun bears may very well be back in favour.
     
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  17. steveroberts

    steveroberts Well-Known Member

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    @Zoofan15 Go Bopha thats awesome, shame for Maly and for our region, seems like such a massive waste of another potentially successful Sun Bear mother. I honestly cannot fathom what is wrong with decision makers in our region, there seems to be an awful lot of 'losing interest' in amazing species, sometimes there is a fortunately a re-emergence in interest in some species later on but at that point they essentially need to import new individuals from Europe or the Americas or Asia all over again? just cant makes heads or tails of their directive choices a lot of the time.

    Obviously theres been some amazing directions from some places like for example while Auckland Zoo is clearly doing amazing stuff with their recent Orangutan exhibit being top notch on a world scale and their Asian rainforest ideas, the same time they are losing a lot of animals like their Elephants (though do realise that Anjalee and Burma will get a lot more space to roam at Dubbo and Beerwah). All the other major zoos in our region have similar examples I'm just thinking along the lines of most recent impressive new habitats by a big city zoo (Taronga's Savannah and Tiger Trek are great too from what I hear, and right there another example of losing sooo many species, I even trimmed their wikipedia page the other day as it still had heaps of species listed that are now gone). Know this has already been saluted many times by everyone but just again want to say how the return of many amazing species to and by the smaller private zoos has been so fantastic to watch.
     
    Last edited: 26 Feb 2022
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  18. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    lets also not forget that other bear species kept before them were phased out to make way for the new chosen sun bear species for the region only for this itself to fail where’s the accounting in all this.
     
  19. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    That is very true. Melbourne phased out their Syrian Brown Bears in the hope of replacing them with Sun Bears, but never managed to obtain them. The AZA has seemingly decided to pretty much phase them out, due to the lack of success in breeding this species.
     
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  20. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

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    A total failure in regards to bear species on a regional level
     
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