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ZTL subspecies (mis)identifications?

Discussion in 'Europe - General' started by Kalaw, 30 Sep 2022.

  1. Kalaw

    Kalaw Well-Known Member

    19 Aug 2022
    London, England
    Zootierliste (ZTL) is perhaps my favourite website on the planet along with this one. A free database listing every species or subspecies housed in EAZA collections and which collections house them with (most of the time) pictures attached. It is a brilliant resource, and one that I use regularly, but sadly, it isn't entirely accurate. As anyone can contribute and update the website, trolling and misidentification regularly lead to inaccuracies, and while it is still (for the most part) extremely reliable, I often stumble across questionable listings.

    I have came across a few listings regarding individual subspecies that seem untrustworthy. Instances where the collection most certainly houses the species in question, but where the subspecies in question doesn't seem entirely accurate. In particular, there are five subspecies identifications that I am curious about. They are as follows:

    Abyssinian Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus abyssinicus) at Marwell Zoo. When I have observed them, they have appeared slightly different to other village weavers, but it is very hard to say, given that male plumage varies seasonally.

    West African Ratel (Mellivora capensis signata) at Exmoor Zoo. The collection certainly houses Ratel of some subspecies, but I doubt whether they are indeed West African, given that no other European collection houses the subspecies.

    Chilean Puma (Puma concolor puma) at Zoo Vincennes in Paris. I am inclined to believe this one, given that the zoo's individuals did come from Chile and that they are known to be subspecies-pure, but any more information would still be welcomed.

    West African Lion (Panthera leo senegalensis) at Antwerp Zoo. ZTL states that Nestor, the zoo's male lion, is West African, however I find this difficult to believe. It seems more likely that Antwerp has held the subspecies in the past, but that their current population is not subspecies pure, having been interbred with the other subspecies at the collection (ZTL also lists Barbaries), due to the uncertainty regarding lion taxonomy, however I do not have enough information to say that for certain.

    Three subspecies of Asian Elephant have caught my attention, the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) at Madrid, the Malaysian Elephant (Elephas maximus hirsutus) at Les Terres de Natae and the Javan Elephant (Elephas maximus sondaicus) at Hannover and Pairi Daiza.

    It is entirely possible that all or none of these are misidentification, but I would love some more information if anybody can provide. :) Other queries regarding ZTL subspecies that members may have can be asked here if they wish.
    Gil likes this.
  2. Pongo

    Pongo Well-Known Member

    1 Jan 2020
    ZTL is a great source but not 100% with everything. Sometimes it also happens that zoologists change the status of subspecies, which usually is not reflected at ZTL. Lions for example are a chaotic field - the cat specialist group only differs two species at the moment - and I am not even sure if the studbook is fully safe. Unfortunately ZTL does not list the sources, so it's sometimes tricky to say the reliability.
    Kalaw likes this.