Posts Tagged ‘zoos’

Wild Animal Ownership Can Hurt All

by | November 17th, 2011

The events in Ohio demonstrate that the United States has an exotic animal regulation problem. Our country has not been able to address the lack of proper control over the keeping of wild animals as pets. To a zoo community that cares about the welfare of animals, those in the wild and those in captivity everywhere, this event was sad on many levels. My heart breaks for the wide variety of precious animals that were killed, but the 18 Bengal tigers lost on this day hit close to home.

First of all, this gorgeous species, and Asia’s most iconic predator, is vanishing in the wild. At the turn of the 20th century, an estimated 100,000 wild tigers inhabited a range extending across Asia. There are only an estimated 3,000–4,000 wild tigers left, and only 7% remains of the tiger’s once vast geographic range.

Threatened by habitat loss, diminished prey, human–wildlife conflict, and the demand for tiger parts, especially bones for traditional Chinese medicine, tigers are now classified as endangered. Considering how few tigers now roam the earth in their natural habitat, it seems unnatural that between 6,000 and 8,000 tigers live as captive pets in the United States.

Regulations around these issues in the United States are divided into federal laws and State laws. The US Fish and Wildlife Agency oversees the import and export of live animals. Most of the exotic animals in the United States under private ownership are not imported, but bred from animals already here. Each state has very different policies regarding what exotic pets residents can own, and the care that must be given them. While the state of California has some of the strictest exotic pet laws, Ohio is one of ten US states that allows people to keep dangerous exotic animals like tigers.

This bifurcation of regulations makes it difficult to track the welfare and safety of privately owned tigers. The government has no way of knowing how many tigers there are in captivity, where they are, who owns them, their quality of life, or what happens to their body parts when they die. Authorities also have no way of knowing if the bones and skins of thousands of tigers in private hands in the United States are entering the wildlife trade and fueling the global demand for tiger parts.

It is my hope that the events in Ohio will awaken these sleepy policies, inspire tighter regulations within states, or even tougher federal laws. Meanwhile, we can act more awake in our own actions by avoiding all entertainment that uses tigers or other wild animals. We can also support organizations, such as the Performing Animal Welfare Society, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund, and our own zoo, which has acted with compassion to give four tigers a new and forever home.

Please join us on November 17 as we screen the film, The Elephant in the Living Room. Winner of five Best Documentary Awards, the film courageously exposes the shocking reality behind the multi-billion dollar exotic pet industry with stunning photography, inspiring storytelling, and unprecedented access into a world rarely seen. We will also welcome special guest Warden William O’Brien from the California Department of Fish and Game. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Marian Zimmer Auditorium.

amy@oaklandzoo.org for more information.

A Dog and Three Kittens…at the Zoo?

by | September 12th, 2011

Lily Rae, photo caption Colleen Kinzley

You may have already heard that we now have an Oakland Zoo Dog,  Lily Rae, and Zoo Cats, Billy, Scarlet and Calli. Lily Rae began her formal exhibit hours (formal only because she is often accessible for many other hours of the day, but these are the hours that the keepers can be sure will fit into their schedules) .  She is “on exhibit” Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sundays at 10-11am and 2-3pm.  Often, she is hanging out with one of her keepers in the Contact Yard in with the goats and sheep where kids can pet and visit with her.  She has progressed much faster than we expected and has been exceptional in these direct contact situations. I had a wonderful experience one day with a young girl, maybe eight years old, who absolutely fell in love with Lily. She pet her for a half an hour and did not want to leave. Her Aunt had to promise they would come back. She didn’t have a dog at home, but really wanted one. Her Aunt said it was in the works, so we talked all about how to care for the dog and the importance of puppy classes and training.

Lily with her trainer and Keeper Chelsea, Photo credit: Colleen Kinzley

Lily Rae  graduated puppy training with Chelsea Williams from Bravo!Pup Puppy One,  a five week course where she practiced sit, down, loose leash walking, and stay. She is now taking Puppy Two with Cathy Keyes, where  she faces greater distractions and durations on her stays, learns to ‘go to place’ and eye contact among other things. Cathy and Chelsea are the two keepers that take Lily home at night. Early training is so important to insure that your dog becomes a good family member, but training can happen at any time. To learn more about puppy and dog training classes visit www.bravopup.com.

Lily Rae is a water baby and loves any opportunity to play in water, I’ve included a picture with her and the hose. She was a muddy mess shortly after this picture was taken.

 

 

Teen Wild Guides showing kittens to Zoo visitors

The kittens are also doing very well although they are proving to be a bit more challenging than Lily to train. They are much more interested in playing. The keepers are working on things like teaching the kittens to come when they are called and allow their nails to be trimmed.  Just like all of the animal training in the Zoo, it is done to care for the animals and only using positive reinforcement like food treats, praise, and petting.  We are working on the modifications to the Cat Cottage, so Zoo guests can come into the room to visit with the kittens. In the meantime, when the kittens have an attendant, they will hold the kittens up at a short fence for petting, which both the kids and the kittens are loving.

Knuckle Walking in the Right Direction

by | September 2nd, 2011

Oakland Zoo Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are one of the most popular exhibits here are the Oakland Zoo and why wouldn’t they be? Chimps are dynamic, expressive, intelligent and overall fascinating, in my opinion.

This week, the US Fish and Wildlife service, at the request of Association of  Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Humane society of the United States (HSUS), Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), and several other organizations announced that it will finally review its outdated classification system of chimpanzees.
Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), wild chimps are classified endangered, while captive chimps are classified as threatened. This small, but important distinction means that captive chimps are not afforded the same protection under federal law that other apes are. The result of which is hundreds of chimpanzees living in poor situations in private households as pets or working in the entertainment business under abusive conditions. Over the last year, AZA has worked together with HSUS and several other organizations to petition US Fish and Wildlife to reconsider this double classification and give chimps the protection they deserve. On August 31, 2011, the USF&W agreed that a status review in this matter is warranted. This means that they will research the issue and reconsider their status after hearing comments from all sides.

You can help captive chimpanzees. US Fish and Wildlife will be taking comments on this issue until October 31, 2011. Please consider sending a message in support of this important change.   We can make a difference in the lives of chimps across the nation.

For information about the review go to:

http://us.vocuspr.com/Newsroom/Query.aspx?SiteName=fws&Entity=PRAsset&SF_PRAsset_PRAssetID_EQ=128219&XSL=PressRelease&Cache=True

To comment on the proposed change:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS–R9–ES–2010–0086]; or
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS–R9–ES–2010–0086]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Changes at the Sun Bear Exhibit

by | September 2nd, 2011

The three bears enjoy their new logs

If you haven’t been by the Oakland Zoo’s bear exhibit recently you really need to come see the furnishings.  Thanks to Natural Balance Pet Food and PETCO we were able to bring in large logs, by crane, and rebuild the structures.

Enjoying all this climbing

Many thanks to the Redwood Crane Company and ZooKeeper Jeff Kinzley for all of their hard work and to Colleen Kinzley for having the vision and seeing it through.  The sun bears are thoroughly enjoying their new digs.

 

 

 

Tired out from all the climbing

Ting Ting is a little less enthusiastic than the little girls but she is making herself at home on the many level telephone pole structure.  You will also see her walking the giant log across the pool in these pictures.

Checking out the new logs

We have always had the most spacious exhibit for sun bears and the most natural substrate but we were lacking complexity for these curious, busy bears. What a great step forward this is.

An Opportunity to Help Tigers Here in the US

by | August 26th, 2011

Photo courtesy of IFAW

Thousands of tigers are held privately across the US, more than what remain in the wild. They are often poorly cared for and irresponsibly bred. Tigers breed well in captivity, even under terrible conditions. Many of the cubs and the parents are destined to live out their lives in small, horrible facilities. These animals are sold as pets (yes many states allow this), perform in circuses, and are carted to malls and fairs. Often, the tiger cubs are used to make money through photo opportunities.

You can help stop this practice by urging the USDA to increase their regulations for protecting all captive tigers. Please take a couple minutes (I did it, it only took 2 minutes) to let the USDA know you support changes to protect all captive tigers.

 

Thanks,

Colleen Kinzley

Curator at Oakland Zoo

 

Find out more information on how to take action from Fred O’ Regan, IFAW President.

Click here to link to IFAW information.

 

The Launch of a Zoo Evolution: Quarters for Conservation!

by | August 18th, 2011

Visiting the Oakland Zoo may bring you a number of positive feelings. The feeling of connection when you spend time with family and friends, the feeling of awe when you learn about animals and their amazing adaptations, or the feeling of wonder when you gaze at a gorgeous elephant or tiger, but starting on August 19th, a new feeling should come over all our visitors: pride.

That is because of our new initiative, Quarters for Conservation. Each time a guest now visits the zoo, a twenty five cent conservation donation will be contributed in support of several Oakland Zoo conservation projects. With thousands of visitors each year, these quarters add up to a significant increase in the zoos capacity to support animals and habitats in the wild. Our slogan, “Saving Wildlife with Each Visit” about sums it up.

Guests will even determine where the funding goes. When you enter the zoo, you will be given a token. This token can be taken to the conservation voting station in Flamingo Plaza and used to “vote for” a conservation project that inspires you. Quarters are also accepted.

This year, you can vote to:

Help protect chimpanzees in Uganda through the Budongo Snare Removal Project. This project provides a solution to poaching by sponsoring forest guards, snare removers and educators, and by offering nanny goats to ex- poachers as an alternative source of food and income.

Help conserve African elephants in Kenya, through the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. This renowned program is aimed at increasing our knowledge of African elephants and ensuring their long-term conservation. Through their efforts, every elephant in Amboseli National Park has been identified, named, and studied.

Help keep the California condor alive and in the wild through the Ventana Wildlife Society Condor Project. This innovative project collects thin-shelled eggs laid by ill condors, and replaces them with viable captive-bred eggs, treats lead-poisoned birds, and monitors the safety and health of each condor through radio telemetry.

These projects will be featured until summer 2012, when three new projects will be chosen

As a community, we have a great power to not only enjoy the zoo and learn from the animals, but to genuinely help their plight in the wild. Quarters for Conservation represents a true shift in the ways zoos see themselves, and the way the public is beginning to view zoos; as true institutions for conservation action. Engaging you, the zoo visitor, in this evolution is very exciting.

Ready to change the world?