Hurricane Irma: Zoos, Wildlife Centers Hunker Down as Historic Storm Reaches Florida

As Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds began hitting the Florida Keys on Saturday, many animals — including howler monkeys, dingoes and turtles — were safely tucked away in their shelters or elsewhere.

Zoos and conservation centers in South Florida moved their animals to safety earlier in the week as forecasts for the Sunshine State grew increasingly dire.

At the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society in West Palm Beach, workers began moving smaller animals into facilities that doubled as hurricane shelters on Wednesday morning, said its communications director, Naki Carter.

“We are prepared for the worst and hopeful for the best,” Carter said. “We are preparing for a Category 5 to make direct impact with our zoo.”

ut what about the flamingos? 3:05

The zoo’s tiger, jaguar, bear and Komodo dragon populations would be staying put, she said, because their habitats already double as hurricane shelters.

“They will be locked inside of those shelters before the storm comes,” she said, adding that the zoo’s six-person storm team would monitor Irma from the Animal Care Center, the facility’s largest hurricane shelter.

“That is our command center,” she said, adding, “also our surgery and triage center.”

The zoo has more than 150 animals, 30 percent of which had been relocated by Thursday evening, Carter said. Among them were birds and smaller mammals.

Carter said the zoo had about 10 days of food for most animals, with about a month’s worth for larger animals. The zoo had also made arrangements to get additional food after the storm passes, she said.

Image: Palm Beach Zoo
Aldabra tortoises at the Palm Beach Zoo. Palm Beach Zoo

Workers boarded up windows and put hurricane-proof shutters and glass in place throughout the 23-acre facility as well.

In a statement Wednesday, the Miami Zoo said it would not evacuate animals “since hurricanes can change direction at the last minute, and you run the risk of evacuating to a more dangerous location.”

“The stress of moving the animals can be more dangerous than riding out the storm,” the zoo said on its Facebook page.

Animals considered more dangerous will be kept in secure houses made of concrete, the statement said, adding that such animals survived the devastating Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago unharmed.

News of the hurricane conjured images of wildlife riding our previous storms from public facilities instead of their enclosures, like the iconic image of more than 50 flamingos taking shelter from Hurricane Georges in a men’s bathroom in 1998.

At the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, a nonprofit in Loxahatchee, founder and president Dr. Paul Reillo said Thursday night that he and other staff members would ride out the storm with hundreds of rare and endangered animals.

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 Hurricane Irma: How will Florida’s zoo animals survive the storm? 3:10

“We’re with them every step of the way,” he said. “You can’t crate them and walk away — our prime directive is to save lives here.”

The foundation was prepared to bring smaller animals indoors before Irma hits, while larger animals may have to ride out the storm outdoors, Reillo said.

“We have large African antelope here, and unfortunately they cannot be caught up and put in small spaces,” he said. “They’re out in their environment, and hopefully they’ll hunker down and be fine.”

Reillo said many zoos and centers don’t have the space or expertise to evacuate animals that need special care, especially endangered species.

Image: Giraffes at Zoo Miami
Undated photo of giraffes at the Metro Zoo in Miami. Luis Castaneda Inc. / Getty Images

“Facilities are not provisioned to do that on normal day, much less in an emergency,” he said. “We’re kind of stuck with riding these things out.”

Reillo also said many wildlife facilities were forced into a waiting game of seeing where and how severe the hurricane would be.

“A mile or two can make a huge difference for a wildlife facility,” he said of a storm’s landfall. “It’s not just the stress on the animals of catching them up, but then realizing you have to have enclosures to release them into after the storm passes.”

Facilities in the area will also work together to help one another after the storm, he said.

“It’s our life’s work. It’s not about the people — this is bigger than us,” he said. “It’s about believing that wildlife deserves a chance for the future. We should do all we can to prevent extinction.”

CORRECTION (Sept. 8, 2017, 10:15): An earlier version of this article misstated the year 50 flamingos were pictured taking shelter in a men’s bathroom during Hurricane Georges. It was 1998, not 1988.

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These haunting animal photos aim to make you reconsider a visit to the zoo

 July 18
Jo-Anne McArthur, a Canadian photographer and animal rights activist, does not deny that her new book could be called “one-sided.” That is sort of the point.

The images in “Captive” were taken at zoos across five continents, but they don’t include depictions of handlers bottle-feeding baby hippos, giving pandas ultrasounds or even cleaning cages. They’re taken from the perspective of the public, and, McArthur said, aim to show the animals as “individuals,” as opposed to representatives of their species. The photos are unusual and at times arresting, featuring solitary animals juxtaposed against gawking crowds, suburbia and the barriers that keep them enclosed.

The book comes off as quite anti-zoo, but McArthur says she hopes it will count as a contribution to an escalating public conversation about animals in captivity — one that has been highlighted by uproar over Sea World orcas and the killing of Harambe the gorilla, but that is also churning quietly among zoo managers.

What follows is a selection of photos from McArthur’s book, paired with her captions, and a Q and A about the book. All images were taken in 2016, when McArthur was on assignment in Europe for the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife advocacy organization.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What was your experience with zoos before this project?
I have an early childhood memory of a zoo in Hawaii. An orangutan was defecating in its hand, smearing it on a tree and eating it. All the tourists were laughing and screaming about it and taking photos. Our family also took photographs. I’d only visited one or two other zoos as a child. People often refer to the “love” I have for animals. That’s correct, but only partly so. I’ve also always had a concern for animals. I’ve often felt sad for them. Seeing them on display seemed so awkward to me. Staring, being stared at. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

It’s clear you’re not a fan of zoos now. Was there a turning point?
I don’t remember a turning point. I just remember always being on the side of the animals when it came to seeing them, living with them, and the rest. I remember always feeling that it wasn’t fair to the individuals that they were kept in zoos, that there were dogs locked up in back yards, birds kept in cages.

Did you go behind the scenes at the zoos you photographed or stay on the visitors’ side?
I’ve been behind the scenes, and I have a lot of zoo friends, and over the years I have heard their private complaints and worries. In the early 2000s, when I was still doing work as a photographer’s assistant, a fashion photographer knew I loved animals, and so invited me to do a three-day shoot with him. The zoo was making money renting out the animals. The animal that afternoon was a bald eagle. Behind the scenes were rows and rows of large, caged birds. The eagle was tethered by the ankle and made to sit under the hot lights of the shoot on a white backdrop, perched on a cow skull, next to a leather boot, which was the item being advertised. The bird was panting and kept trying to fly away. The bird would fly the length of the tether and then get yanked back and upside down, hanging by the tether, then righted by the handler, then put back on the cow skull to be photographed. My zoo friends quietly express their woes to me about things the visitors don’t know or see, like new animal introductions that go wrong and end in death; animals caught in wiring and fencing, found dead in the morning; families separated again and again for breeding programs.

How do you think that affected the portrayal of zoos in your book?
The book will get some criticism for being one-sided. But it’s important to remember that zoos are one-sided, and we need to see more of the darker corners so that we can continue to discuss the problems with captivity. The images in “Captive” will help to further enliven the discussion about the individuals caught in these systems. The zoo conversation often loops back to conservation efforts and species preservation, at the expense of the individuals. From the outside, we see zoo marketing. From the inside, as visitors, the zoo also shapes how we see, and fail to see, the animals — from the groomed pathways, the music, to all the supplementary entertainment. I want us to remember that we might pass through a zoo in two or three hours and return home to our families, friends, and a life of relative autonomy. Zoo animals, however, remain there long after we’ve gone. I try to show what that might be like for them.

You’re pretty dismissive of zoos’ wildlife conservation efforts. Why? Isn’t there a range of commitment to these programs?
What I’m trying to do is get the conversation away from the conservation crutch. “But, conservation!” is the go-to response to anyone challenging the many ethical issues confronting zoos today. Zoos have done a great job marketing conservation efforts when in fact most of their money is spent on other projects. Captive animals are bored, lonely, separated from their families and friends? But, conservation. Marius, the giraffe killed and publicly dissected by a Danish zoo, was “culled” because he was genetic surplus? But, conservation. Yes, please tell me about all the successful conservation happening. Show me the successful reintroduction of gorillas into the wild. The giraffes, too. Tell me about elephant conservation. Zoos use the conservation angle to this day to justify the catching of wild animals, including African elephants as recently as 2016, and bringing them to American zoos.

You single out the Detroit Zoo as worthy of praise. What makes it so different? It still holds captive animals.
It does, yes, and they are the first to say that they have a long way to go before they reach their goals. I encourage people to look at the zoo reform happening there. For example, they moved their elephants to a sanctuary in a warmer climate because they felt that keeping them in Detroit was ethically untenable. Most zoos won’t make a move like that because of the perceived lost revenue. Detroit Zoo, however, used it as an opportunity to talk about the ethics of captivity and to show that they wanted to be leaders in zoo reform. Their polar bears are rescued and have enough space to hide from the public. There’s a huge focus on humane education programs. They have a 4-D theater, where visitors can see animals in their natural habitat. This year they hosted a global symposium on zoo and aquarium animal welfare.

Zoos know they are in the spotlight, and not in a good way. Many zoos are interested in meaningful reform, where others are looking at how they can spin things to look like they are. Zoos are neither immutable nor inevitable and, in their current form, most are archaic. Zoos need to evolve to suit the more compassionate ethics of our time.

What do you want people to take away from your book?
“Captive” is my contribution to the ongoing mainstream discussion about the ethics of captivity. We lack critical thinking when it comes to facing other species. We face them without seeing them — interactions depicted frequently throughout the book. I’d like the people who see this book to become part of the growing numbers who are taking zoos to task. I’d like the book’s audience to reconsider visiting zoos, and put their support behind efforts that help animals, such as wildlife centers, sanctuaries and in-situ conservation projects. We can also learn so much more seeing animals filmed in high definition in their natural habitats than by looking at an isolated animal behind a grubby sheet of Plexiglas.

Read more:

What Harambe’s death means for a critically endangered species of gorilla

Detroit Zoo director: Zoos will ‘look and act radically different in 20 years’

A rhino at a French zoo was killed for his horn. Could that happen here?

To save rhinos, half of this African country’s elephants are being airlifted to U.S. zoos

Saskatoon zoo opening research facility to study orphaned grizzly bears

Bears Mistaya and Koda will help shed light on those in the wild

By Alex Soloducha, CBC News Posted: Apr 25, 2017 4:12 PM CT

The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is beginning a new partnership with the Foothills Research Institute to start a grizzly bear research program in the city.

The five-year agreement between the two organizations will allow Foothills scientists to use Saskatoon zoo facilities to take part in conservation research on a variety of animals of different species currently housed there, starting with two orphaned grizzly bears.

The Saskatoon Zoo acquired two young grizzly bears in 2006. Mistaya and Koda were both orphaned in Alberta, paired at the Calgary Zoo and later transferred to their permanent home in Saskatoon.

Manager of the Saskatoon zoo, Tim Sinclair-Smith, said the organization is working to make research and conservation a priority.

“We shouldn’t have them here at all if we’re just going to display them,” he said.

Foothills researchers have been working on long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta since 1999.

Their primary objective is to understand how the health of individual grizzly bears is influenced by human activities and changing environmental conditions. The second goal is to examine how that health affects the growth, stability and resilience of grizzly bear populations.

This year, during the bears’ hibernation, management at the zoo was working on making a connection with Foothills.

The City of Saskatoon will pool in-kind resources to create a Wildlife Health Centre, consisting of a laboratory for Foothills researchers. No changes will be done to the structure of the facilities, which are being outfitted with necessary lab equipment.

“For them to build a facility … you’re talking millions and millions of dollars,” Sinclair-Smith said. “This was a great opportunity for them to be able to utilize the data they can gather from these guys and use them for a baseline for all the research that they’re doing with the bears in the wild.”

The Foothills scientists will test samples of hair, feathers and scales picked up through non-invasive sample gathering.

Their research findings will often be communicated directly with zoo visitors.

With files from Charles Hamilton

 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatoon-zoo-opens-new-med-facility-1.4085359

Rescue Gajraj the Elephant From Torture at Indian Temple

https://animalpetitions.org/243668/rescue-gajraj-the-elephant-from-alleged-torture-at-temple/

Target: Modi Narendra, Prime Minister of India 

Goal: Rescue Gajraj the elephant, who has been tortured and held in captivity for over 50 years, from the Satara Temple.

A 63-year-old elephant named Gajraj has been living in devastating conditions for most of his life. Currently, he is being kept in chains as a tourist attraction at the Satara Temple in India. Before he was there, he was used by handlers to beg visitors for money. Since becoming ill and too sick to continue doing that, he was left at the Satara Temple.

Gajraj’s living conditions were revealed anonymously to The Sun newspaper in the U.K. in the form of video footage. Due to being chained to a hard floor, he has developed abscesses on his hind quarters and elbows. He reportedly spends time every day trying to free himself from those chains. Pictures also show that the ends of his tusks have been cut off and that he has overgrown and broken toenails on all of his feet.

He is also exhibiting classic signs of severe psychological distress, presumably as a result of both his social isolation and the terrible conditions he is living in. He is apparently not receiving the appropriate care because he can no longer make the handlers any money, but he does not deserve to die in agony because of that.

Something needs to be done to save Gajraj and to prevent this from happening to more animals in the future. Sign this petition to demand that the appropriate measures are taken as soon as possible.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Modi Narendra,

Gajraj the elephant is dying in agony at the Satara Temple and it seems that no one at that facility cares. You have the power to do something about this and to send someone in to rescue Gajraj before it’s too late.

He has spent the majority of his life being tortured and held in captivity. At the Satara Temple, he is chained to the ground and completely alone. This is driving him into severe psychological distress that no living creature deserves to experience.

We ask that you help save Gajraj and take the measures necessary to implement legislation that prevents this from happening to more animals in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

https://animalpetitions.org/243668/rescue-gajraj-the-elephant-from-alleged-torture-at-temple/

Bird Flu Pandemic Hasn’t Changed Atrocious Conditions at Poultry Farms

http://koreabizwire.com/bird-flu-pandemic-hasnt-changed-atrocious-conditions-at-poultry-farms/80831

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

SEOUL, April 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite new government measures that require farmers to make use of larger cages, the horrific conditions that poultry live under at typical factory farms in South Korea are unlikely to change soon, which have been identified as one of the major factors behind the recent influenza Type A pandemic that causes illness to people.

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules.

Existing poultry farms will have 10 years to update their old cages in accordance with the new standards, but critics say the grace period is too long, and that simply making cages slightly bigger won’t get to the root of the problem.

According to current laws regarding poultry farming, chickens are being raised in a space smaller the size of an A4 sheet of paper (0.05 square meters or 0.5 square feet), which means 1 square meter per 20 chickens. When the new rules take place, poultry farms will be required to have their cages built at least 0.075 square meters in size.

The EU already banned (in 2003) the construction of any more of the so-called battery cages, a term that refers to small wire cages in which hens spend their entire lives with little to no space to move around. Since a total ban on battery cages took place in 2012, an increasing number of farmers have adopted free-range farming.

South Korean poultry farms however, have been bucking the trend and engaging in activities that border on animal cruelty, such as keeping the lights on during the night to maximize egg production, exploiting a physiological phenomenon in which a drastic environmental change suddenly increases the egg production of hens.

Despite opposition from animal rights groups, little has been done to secure the wellbeing of farm animals in South Korea.

A representative from the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP), Lee Won-bok, was critical of the government’s move to tackle avian influenza, calling it a ‘makeshift plan’ that will bring little to no change.

“AI pandemics occur almost every year due to the poor living conditions of farm animals, not because of the size of cages,” Lee said.

Hyunsu Yim (hyunsu@koreabizwire.com)

3 tiger cubs destined for zoo in Syria rescued in Lebanon

http://www.news-sentinel.com/article/20170403/AP/304039948&profile=1002

Monday, April 03, 2017 09:07 am
BEIRUT – Three Siberian tiger cubs destined for a zoo in war-torn Syria were rescued by a Lebanese animal rights group after being trapped in an unmarked, maggot-infested crate in Beirut’s airport for almost a week.

The tigers, which were being transported from Ukraine, arrived at the Beirut airport on March 7, inside a ventilated 0.3-cubic-meter (10.6-cubic feet) crate, where they could not stand or move and were forced to urinate and defecate on each other, according to Animals Lebanon.

The animal rights group, which had been alerted to the shipment ultimately bound for Samer al-Husainawi Zoo in Damascus before it landed in Beirut, petitioned a Lebanese judge to release the tigers into their care the following week, Executive Director Jason Mier said.

The judge responded by issuing an order demanding the tigers be released, citing concerns for their health and welfare, the group said.

“Once we finally got them out of the box, the box had dozens and dozens of maggots crawling around in it. There were maggots all over the back thighs of the animals and around their anus,” Mier said. The tigers also suffered from dehydration, according to the group.

The tigers were sent from the zoo in Mykolaev, Ukraine. Volodymyr Topchiy, that zoo’s director, said the deal to send them abroad was entirely legal.

“They passed customs clearance, we have customs declarations,” he said, adding that the tiger cubs were exchanged for some wildcats.

Topchiy believes problems with paperwork and bureaucracy stopped their transfer to Syria. “On the transportation boxes there were no ‘up’ or down’ signs,” he said.

He said the three tiger cubs were in one box, not separate, and the zoo dealer was stopped because of these reasons. “Authorities wanted to confiscate (the cubs),” he said.

Mier said the crate arrived with no markings and no documents, and did not meet IATA regulations nor those of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, despite the fact that the four-month-old Siberian tigers fall under that category.

This is not the first deal that the Mykolaev zoo has made with its Syrian counterpart, and Topchiy said he is considering sending more tiger cubs there.

Lebanon enacted an animal protection and welfare law in 2015, granting animals legal rights and allowing for the regulation and monitoring of all the industries and establishments that use or sell animals to ensure that the animals are not placed in abusive environments.

The country is also a signatory to a number of international conventions regarding animal welfare, such as CITES, the main legislation against wildlife trafficking.

In August 2015, the death of a privately owned lion cub as a result of severe malnourishment prompted the Agriculture Ministry to clamp down on the sale and ownership of big cats.

In July, the ministry issued a decree to stop the trafficking of big cats and forcing zoos to register formally.

LEBANON’S LUCRATIVE TRADE IN WILD ANIMALS

Wolf that escaped from Idaho wildlife park killed by owner

image

A wolf that escaped from a drive-thru wildlife tourist attraction in southeastern Idaho has been shot and killed by the owner of the business, Idaho officials said.

Courtney Ferguson, the owner of Yellowstone Bear World near Yellowstone National Park, tracked the wolf through snow and shot it about an hour after it escaped from the facility that also has bears, elk, bison and deer.

“Courtney saw the tracks in the snow, tracked the wolf down and shot it,” Doug Peterson of Idaho Fish and Game told the Standard Journal in a story published Monday. “He took care of it all by himself and relatively quickly and easily.”

Peterson said the wolf was owned by Ferguson so the state’s hunting rules did not apply to the killing of the wolf.

“The wolves we hunt belong to the citizens of Idaho,” Peterson said. “This particular wolf of Courtney’s belonged to him.”

All the animals at the facility that is now closed for the winter were born and raised there, the company said.

Yellowstone National Park has drawn a record of more than 4 million visitors this year, many hoping to spot wolves and grizzly bears in the wild. Ferguson’s wildlife park sits on one of the major routes into the park, with a selling point that visitors can see the animals up close.

“It’s a different setting than the park but they do get to see what those animals look like,” said Jim White, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game.

Yellowstone Bear World operates with a license issued by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and its animals are permitted by Idaho Fish and Game.

White called the escape of the wolf “an unusual, isolated incident.”

Ferguson did not immediately respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Wasted Lives and Roadside Zoos

http://www.bornfreeusa.org/weblog_canada.php?p=5669&more=1

08/11/16

by Barry Kent MacKay

Recently, I revisited Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park: a roadside zoo just outside the small town of Orono, Ontario. I had not checked it out in a couple of decades. It opened in 1983.

It’s neither the best nor the worst of its kind. When I sent photos I had taken to Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck, he replied, “When I look at the images, it just strikes me how absurd and wasted the lives of the animals are living in those cages in Orono; a purposeless and hopeless existence.”

That perfectly expressed my own views. Scattered about the grounds are a series of cages and enclosures in which the usual assembly of animals commonly seen in zoos are imprisoned, without a jungle in sight. There is also a pet cemetery, a motel-like bed and breakfast accommodation, a tiny cafeteria, and a souvenir shop.

The zoo offers a “Safari Zoo Camp experience” each summer. It grandly promises to “protect and conserve the natural world by offering the public engaging wildlife education programs and experiences with animals to help foster the necessary awareness, knowledge, skills and confidence to live in an environmentally friendly way.”

Photo: Barry Kent MacKay

I climbed the “wolf tower” to peer down into an enclosure where some wolves remained, mostly hidden in the weeds. One was pacing in the classical stereotypic manner of confined zoo animals. By pre-focusing my camera at the spot where he was briefly visible, I got a few mediocre snapshots. This is definitely not how wolves act in the wild.

The sign for the European kestrel misidentified him as a female and contained a mishmash of information on that species and the markedly different American kestrel—while doing nothing to protect either species.

Until she read the sign on the cage, I overheard a lady say that the mountain lion, puma, and cougar were all the same species. I guess that’s education.

Photo: Barry Kent MacKay

My concern is that these places make people think that what they see in such facilities is somehow “normal” for the animals they imprison. The parrot on the t-bar, the lemurs jumping on a hanging spare tire and begging for grapes, that owl up in the corner of her cage, or the pacing tiger… This is what they’ll know of each species.

This is not what animals are like, so isolated from the realities they evolved to inhabit. And yet, in or near towns and cities across the continent, I fear that too many people see these facilities as normal components of our own society: the animals serving to amuse us, where we “ooh” over white lions, or gasp at how big a boa constrictor can grow, or laugh at the antics of a squirrel monkey.

Rob calls the last century and a half that the modern zoo has existed the “sanitization and acceptance” period, wherein wild animals in cages are increasingly seen to be perfectly normal… while the spaces they naturally inhabit continue to decline. Sadly, I think he’s right.

Keep wildlife in the wild,
Barry

Defending Wild Salmon from Greed and Ecological Ignorance

From Captain Paul Watson:

Sea Shepherd’s Operation Virus Hunter is focusing international attention on the health of wild salmon populations on the West coast of Canada and the threat of viruses and parasites from domestic salmon farms.

If the wild salmon disappear, the Orcas will not survive. If the wild salmon disappear, the culture of West Coast First Nations will be seriously damaged. If the wild salmon disappear, bears and eagles and many other species will also disappear.

What the Norwegian salmon farm industry has done is to introduce and exotic non-native species – the Atlantic salmon into an eco-system it does not belong. They then concentrated these fish in captive pens where they breed parasites and develop viral infections. The industry counters this with antibiotics but the viruses persist and the wild salmon have no defenses against viruses or parasites.

Salmon should not be confined to concentration camps. Wild fish populations should not be wiped out to feed the captive inmates. The diseases and parasites from the captive inmates should not be allowed to infect wild salmon populations.

DFO should be doing their job and not allowing the salmon farms to police themselves.

Sea Shepherd stands behind Dr. Alexandra Morton and the majority of the First Nations on the West Coast in opposing the ecological destructions being caused by these floating virus and fish fecal factories.

B.C.-based biologist Alexandra Morton was elbow-to-elbow with Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame and environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki for the…
vancouversun.com