Posts Tagged With: zoo

Rhino for President?

Throughout history people have been so fed up with their political choices, they have sometimes opted to vote for an animal instead.

In 1959 , as a protest, the voters of Sao Paulo, Brazil voted for Cacareco, the rhino at the Sao Paulo zoo.  With over 500 candidates running for the seat on the City Council, the five-year old black rhino won by a landslide.

cacareco-rhino-by-gina-famania

Cacareco, source: Gina Famania

Her campaign for the election was traced back to a group of students who were fed up with living conditions, food shortages and overall political corruption. Although her win was thrown out and a new election took place, she made history.

“Vote Cacareco” became a slogan to signify political protests, and she became the inspiration for the Rhinoceros Party of Canada.

 

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In Love With Jello

It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of Jello. He was humanely euthanized on Monday after a decline in health relating to his seizures and neurological issues.                                                                                                           He will always hold a special place in our hearts, as the first black rhino we were privileged to meet.
Our thoughts and sympathies are with his caretakers at the Potter Park Zoo. He will be missed.
RIP big guy.

Fight for Rhinos

They say you never forget your first love. Mine’s about 5 feet tall, has a bit of an attitude and a very dirty nose. The moment was magical; I called to him, he ignored me, looked up briefly, then turned away obviously unimpressed. But for me, I was in love.

Jello Jello

Jello’s the first rhino I’ve officially met. Originally from Miami, he lives at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing MI. The 9-year-old black rhino is  handsome (as rhinos go), and laid back. He is well cared for, and knows it. With an attitude remarkably similar to a cat, he comes to you in his own sweet time, but loves the attention once he gets it.

DSCF0545-001 Zoo policy wouldn’t allow a “behind the scenes” photo, so to commemorate my moment-rhino dirt from rubbing Jello’s “sweet” spot!

Watching his giant prehensile lip grab for treats, feeling his smooth wrinkled face, and…

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Happy Fathers Day Andalas

Andalas is not just any rhino dad. What makes him special is the fact he was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in 112 years! At 6 years of age he was moved to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in south Sumatra.

Andalas

Andalas photo: Asian Rhino Project

His transition from zoo to jungle presented some challenges. He didn’t know how to wallow in mud holes, wasn’t used to browsing for his own food, or having such a variety of it. It took time for his caregivers to teach him these vital skills.

He was also initially scared of other rhinos and ran when they came near. Not quite a lady’s man, he was overly aggressive to the females. After guidance and socialization skills from the staff, he was gradually introduced to two female rhinos.

He chose Ratu. In 2012 he and Ratu became parents to Andatu, the first rhino ever born at SRS.

It is hopeful he will be able to duplicate that success with other females.

Baby Andatu in 2012

Baby Andatu in 2012. photo:International Rhino Foundation

 

 

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Quirky Companions

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Animals in the zoo in Georgia’s capital are not allowed to be lonely, even if it means they end up with rather unusual companions.

A female rhinoceros called Manuela has made friends with donkeys, after failing to hit it off with either zebras or goats, while a lion cub neglected by his mother has bonded with a puppy.

Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze said Manuela got depressed after the death of her mate and became aggressive toward her caretakers. They tried putting zebras in her enclosure, but they only returned the aggression. Then they tried goats, which ran away.

But the donkeys had an instant calming effect.

Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili Associated Press

rhino donkey 1

rhino donkey 2

 

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The Most (Un)Lucky Rhino

Phila at zoo in jo-burg
Most rhino lovers have heard the story of Thandi by now. She is an amazing being with a zest for life, a survivor. She is the ambassador of rhinos everywhere, a symbol of hope in the poaching wars. But there is another lesser known rhino who has an extraordinary
tale of survival as well. In fact she survived not just once, but twice. Her name is Phila.
Phila has been shot nine times over two poaching attempts. She was relocated twice, and currently resides at a zoo in Johannesburg, as this was the last place thought secure enough for her. Even after the attempts and relocations, there is still a bounty on her life.
Doomed to a life of confinement, and enduring permanent pain from the wounds, she carries on. But at what cost?  What remains ahead for Phila? Will she ever have a future that is wild AND safe?
For more on Phila, see her amazing tale on Saving Rhino Phila, an award winning documentary.
Here she is at the Johannesburg Zoo: 

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Sumatrans: The Forgotten Rhino

Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the living rhinos, and probably the most unique in appearance. They are covered in hair and most closely resemble their extinct ancestors woolly rhinos.

sumatran range history and current

Borneo and Sumatra are home to the last Sumatrans.

They are the most vocal, and quite agile. Living in jungle conditions, they climb mountains and riverbanks surprisingly easily.

There are less than 150 Sumatrans left in the wild. In captivity there are only 9; and of them,  just two captive females have reproduced in the last 15 years. Doesn’t make for a bright outlook does it?

Sumatrans live in fragmented areas due to deforestation and an ever shrinking habitat. They also face the same peril as their African cousins-poaching.

The plight to save the remaining endangered Sumatran rhinos has grown more urgent following the death of Gelugob. She resided in Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Sabah, Northern Malaysia, and passed away of old age on January 11th.

Gelugob

Gelugob

For 19 years, experts had studied her breeding habits with hopes of her giving birth. She was unable to produce eggs and did not respond to hormone treatments.

Across the world, in Ohio the Cincinnati Zoo is making efforts to save the species  as well. Infamous for a previously successful breeding program with Emi (see previous post: Emi: the World-Famous Sumatran), they are now hoping for success again by breeding resident Sumatran Suci with her brother Harapan.

With intense efforts worldwide, the remaining Sumatrans are being studied, bred and monitored in hopes of keeping the species alive.

Ratu and Andalas son-

Andatu, born in June of 2013 at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia.

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When Cats and Dogs Aren’t Enough

 

This is Little Mo. She was just a few months old when poachers killed her mother and stole her from the wild. These ruthless wildlife traffickers wanted Born Free Foundationto sell the cheetah cub as a ‘pet’ in Somaliland, East Africa.

Mo is one of millions of countless big cats, and other endangered animals who are part of the exotic pet trade.

US Exotic Pets

The illegal trade is a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 exotics live in “backyards” all across the US.

While some exotic pets have been bred in captivity, many are plucked directly from their natural habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence.

pet tiger

Amazingly, the Endangered Species Act does not prohibit domestic trade in captive-bred wildlife. A grave oversight, considering that although tigers are endangered, more tigers reside in private residences in Texas, than in all the wild.

People purchasing these animals believe them to be cute and manageable until of course they grow, their wild instincts still intact, and become uncontrollable.  In 2013, there have been 1,969 incidents (anything from quarantine violations to deaths of animals and/or people) in the US alone.

Middle Eastern Trend

Of course this is not just problematic in the US. Big cat pets in the Gulf region is a growing trend. It is seen as a status symbol. Yemen is becoming the hub for this lucrative trade in the Arabian world. Although the numbers are not available, it is believed this is the reason for the dent in the wild cheetah populations in Somalia.

man riding lion

Several clips have surfaced on the Internet showing the absurdity and ignorance of owning these big cats; i.e. a  riding a lion and a group of men with a leashed cheetah.

Worldwide Smuggling

Authorities around the world suspect they’re intercepting under 10% of all wildlife smuggling, with many saying it’s actually only 1%.

african greys rescused

3 of 108 African Grays released into the wild after a failed smuggling attempt in Bulgaria.

The vast size of most wilderness areas and the limited number of enforcement officers virtually guarantee poachers and smugglers free access. The only way to get a definite conviction is to catch them in the act.

otters

11 otters found alive in unclaimed baggage in Bangkok.

Although smuggling of endangered species is an international violation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the penalties are stipulated by individual countries and vary greatly. CITES protection does not apply to exotic animals who are born in captivity.

Root of the Problem

As with rhino and elephant poaching, the root of the issue is to stop the demand. So it is with exotic pet ownership.

*Do not purchase endangered species.

*Do not patronize circuses and roadside zoos who use or showcase exotic animals.

Please read and sign the petition to : Ban exotic pet ownership in the US

Born Free FoundationWhat happened to Mo the cheetah?

She was rescued by the Born Free Foundation. She’s living the good life, with a spacious area and her medical and nutritional needs cared for.

After slowly introducing her to other cheetahs, she is happily living as part of a new family unit.

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Doppsee’s Day

For World Rhino Day, I spent the day with Doppsee and the staff of the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Mi.Me n Dop

Doppsee is one of the two black rhinos there. (See previous post: In Love with Jello)  Unlike my meeting with her roomie Jello, she is quite affectionate and seemed to enjoy the attention.

In addition to educational centers and a scavenger hunt, the zoo gave tours, allowing visitors what was probably a once-in-a-lifetime privilege of being up close and personal with a black rhino. It was dually educating and entertaining for adults and kids alike. Of course it was the most fun watching the kids’ faces light up when they saw Doppsee.

DSCF1686They learned about Doppsee’s favorite treats (peppermints and peanut butter), how she has learned basic training in order to have vet checks done, and most importantly how endangered her species is.

It is this kind of awareness that may help edge our rhinos closer to survival. The more they know, the more they care, and want to help.

The proceeds from the tours will benefit the International Rhino Foundation.

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Shirley & Jenny

This is the story of a touching elephant reunion. It’s not a new story, but worth retelling. After a life of hardship, Shirley, an old gentle soul, gets a happy ending. She has finally found peace and companionship with Jenny, a friend from her past.

Watch here:

Shirley Part 1

Shirley & Jenny Part 2

Old friends

Old friends

 

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Shooting Fish in a Barrel

So proud of himself!

So proud of himself!

Nothing says “home” quite like a dead rhino head mounted on the wall, or a lovely bear hide under your feet. You too can redecorate to your liking. For $2,000 you can shoot a zebra, or for $20,000 a lion. Cost isn’t an issue? Well then for $40,000 how about an elephant?

The trophy hunting industry is alive and well in Africa. But with today’s modern hunters, if price is not an issue, neither is convenience. That’s where “canned hunts” or “captive hunts” come in. Shooters pay enormous fees for the guaranteed kill of an animal, some of them endangered species.

Although canned hunts are advertised as rugged, outdoor adventures, in reality they are conducted in an atmosphere of comfort and convenience. The area is usually a fenced enclosure from which there is no escape, ranging from a few square yards to several hundred acres, depending on how “strenuous” you want your hunt to be.

The animals are either bred by the private land owner just for this purpose or are purchased as “retired” zoo or circus animals. They are all accustomed to people.  Whether someone drives up in a jeep to feed them or shoot them, they know no different and have no fear of humans. At times a rhino or elephant have had to be woken up in order to be shot!

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparantly the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparently the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

The essentials are always the same regardless of the cost of the trip: an animal who is either fenced in, lured to feeding stations, or habituate to humans, and odds so heavily in the hunter’s favor that there is little risk of leaving without a trophy. Most canned hunts even have taxidermists on site or on call to mount the trophy (a.k.a the animal whose fate was sealed the moment you called for a reservation.)

The United States is the largest importer of exotic and endangered animals from Africa. The trophy hunting industry from Africa alone brings in $91 billion annually based on a study by the Professional Hunters Association of S.A.

This man didn't even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

This man didn’t even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

As if it weren’t bad enough, the U.S has its own hand in the business. The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are over a thousand captive hunts in America, operating in at least 28 states, most commonly in Texas. There are however no federal laws governing canned hunts in America nor does the Animal Welfare Act regulate game preserves or canned hunts. The Endangered Species Act actually ALLOWS the hunting of endangered animals with the appropriate permit!

Canned hunts are brutal and one-sided. They are a mockery to hunters who abide by the “fair chase” regulations and ideals; and they are a shameful “luxury” our endangered species cannot afford.

troph hunt lions

This is a ranch where lions are bred to be killed.


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