Archive for the ‘Zoo’ Category

Pyrenean ibex, Baiji Dolphin, Western Black Rhinoceros and the Japanese River Otter have all recently been declared extinct. How long until the Giant Panda(Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is to join this list? With less than 2000 recorded in the wild and only a handful more in captivity, the Giant Pandas time, sadly, may come sooner rather than later if conservation efforts do not prove successful.

The Panda used to found in both lowland and mountainous areas across China; however deforestation and farming has restricted their natural habitat to the mountains in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. The broadleaf/coniferous forest areas in which the Pandas reside are often found so high up the mountains they are surrounded by clouds. As solitary animals, Pandas spend most of their lives alone, coming together only to mate, and communicating through scents and calls.

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo - Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo – Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

While their digestive system is designed for a carnivorous diet, they feed almost entirely of bamboo. Given the poor nutritional value of bamboo they have to eat very large quantities each day, up to a third of their own weight. This specialist diet is also a player in their endangerment due to the damage of bamboo forests limiting their habitat further. Occasionally they will eat small rodents and eggs, but this makes up only about 1% of their diet. The Panda is active both night and day and spends most of its time eating, finding food and sleeping.

A female Panda is only fertile for 2-3 days, once a year, and the duration of a pregnancy is varied. This leaves very little margin for error and if that window is missed, there is another years wait. A Panda will usually give birth to two young, however in the wild it is very common for only one to survive. There are reintroduction programs in place; however they have not seen much success over the years and Pandas numbers in the wild continue to decline.

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo - Authors own

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo – Authors own

These majestic creatures are currently listed as endangered and it looks to remain so for a very long time. One can only hope their situation does not get worse and we can sustain the wild population that is present with hopes of an increase over the years. The WWF, Chengdu Research Base, Pandas International etc are all organisations which work for Panda conservation worldwide. Zoo’s across the world are also involved in Panda conservation by means of raising money for research, sanctuaries and breeding programs, as well as being involved in breeding programs themselves.

The photos featured in this article were taken in Edinburgh Zoo this year. Edinburgh Zoo are one such zoo which aid in Giant Panda conservation by means of putting money back into conservation and educating their visitors about the Giant Panda. They are currently home to two beautiful Pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, with whom they are hoping to successfully breed from over the coming years while they are on loan. I one day hope to see Giant Pandas in the wild, but for now seeing them in Edinburgh was truly inspiring.


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(Nearly 2 months since my last post SORRY , I am going to blame it on Christmas 😉 )

Authors Own : Arnhem Zoo

Authors Own : Arnhem Zoo

South Africa is very well known for its Rhinoceros populations and it is no wonder given it is home to over ¾ of the worlds Rhinoceros. The five main species alive today are the White, Black, Javan, Sumatran and Indian Rhinoceros, with 3 of these 5 on the critically endangered list. As if the outlook wasn’t bad enough, poaching in South Africa is on a scary rise, putting the pressure on the already fragile White and Black species of rhinoceros.

2008: 83
2009: 112
2010: 333
2011: 448
2012: 668

The figures above represent the number of Rhino’s killed in South Africa over the last 5 years. In the short space of time between 2010 and 2012 the number of killings doubled. Frightening to think what 2013 could bring if poaching is not dealt with once and for all.

Authors Own : Blijdorp Zoo

Authors Own : Blijdorp Zoo

So why are so many Rhinos being killed every year? These strong and beautiful animals are being killed simply for their horns, which are in high demand in Asia (mainly China and Vietnam) for use in “medicine”. They believe they have great healing powers and most recently has become a popular hangover remedy in Vietnam. A Rhino horn consists mainly of keratin which has no medicinal value and is found in human hair, skin and nails. In other words, there is no reason for so much killing, you could eat some hair and it would be much the same effect as a Rhino horn.


Unfortunately it is difficult to educate when people are so bent on cultural traditions and the demand will be there for Rhino horns for some time, so the problem of poaching will ever increase alongside demand. How can we stop this? ? Provide better education for people living along side Rhinos and areas with a demand for Rhino horns, better security against poachers in high risk areas, stricter laws on the trading of Rhino horns and other body parts. These are all areas which need to be looked at, however for all this money will always be an issue.

2013s figure could easily hit 1000 if killing continue to increase like they have over the last couple of years , scary when you put it like that isn’t it ?

Authors Own: Chester Zoo

Authors Own: Chester Zoo

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Well this little guy hardly needs much of an introduction being a very popular feature in many zoo’s across the world. Unfortunately the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is currently listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red list. This means that we need to take extra care in conserving the Red Panda in its small pockets of damp high-altitude forests in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern China or it may be joining the “critically endangered” list all too soon.

The Red Panda is a very good climber using its specially adapted feet with rotatable ankles to control downward climbs. They have very strong claws which they use to grasp branches and leaves when feeding. Bamboo makes up the most part of their diet however they occasionally eat eggs, berries or fruit depending on the availability of their main food during foraging. Mostly nocturnal, they forage by night and sleep by day, spending the majority of their time in the trees.

Their main form of communication is by means of body language however they are usually a solitary animal, rarely interacting with other Red Pandas apart from during mating and when caring for young. Even though they are born very small, females have a considerably long gestation period of up to 135 days and usually only have one or two at a time. This also presents limitations in captive breeding programmes and makes the management of their habitat all the more important as they are fragile reproducers.

The main threats to Red Panda populations in the wild are: habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and inbreeding depression. While human populations increase, Red Panda populations decrease as the humans claim more and more of their habitats for their own. This unfortunately is not restricted to the Red Pandas but uncountable different species worldwide suffer a similar threat and many unique habitats are suffering under the pressure. Road construction, commercial logging, localized logging and clearing for farm lands, being just some of the culprits in the fragmentation of habitats.

Poaching does not present as serious a threat to the Red Panda as habitat loss; however it is still a big problem mainly in China. They are hunted mainly for their fur and their beautiful tails. Outside China they are usually only killed by accident, caught up in traps meant for other animals and shot occasionally because the opportunity was there, rather than being deliberately hunted for.

Research and Habitat protection are vital for the survival of this species. They are known to be shy and due to their nocturnal behaviour observation and data collection can be difficult, so it is important that population studies are fronted in order to get a clearer picture of this secretive animal’s lifestyle. The more known about the Red Panda, the easier it becomes to protect. There are several protected areas covering some of the Red Pandas habitats across their home countries, however not near enough if they are to thrive in the long term and get the management and protection they need.

If you want to know more you can visit the Red Panda Network webpage. They are an organisation that focuses on education, research and conservation. All of which are important in the protection of a species.

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Sorry for the unforgivably long delay between posts! Between job hunting, doctors and a trip to Holland my internet time has been short 🙂

So last week I was in Holland visiting family and enjoying the wonderful food and atmosphere it has to offer and managed to get to the zoo on the one sunny day we had ! Luck! This time around I was eager to go somewhere I hadn’t been before and Burgers zoo came out the winner.

It was the African Penguins or nicknamed “Jackass” penguins who greeted us at the entrance:


Spacious , lots of levels and ample hiding places . . not a bad enclosure.


All out enjoying the afternoon sun !

We carried on into the large indoor complex housing the impressive Desert area. If only our summers could be as warm as it was in here !


Spot the Diamondback rattle snakes in this novel enclosure.


Peccary enclosure 


The Bighorned Sheep chilling out together chewing the cud. 

Everything is spaced out nicely so there is an enjoyable walk but not miles between each enclosure. Indoors I saw my first Manatee which is a very impressive creature (could do with an enclosure re-vamp and extension) and then outdoors in a mixed exhibit with the Sunbears I got my first glimpse of a Binturong an unusual animal which somewhat resembles an undiscovered Pokemon!


Binturong (see even the name sounds like a pokemon)

The Aquarium was enjoyable but as my camera is a little “low tech” and flashes are a no go I haven’t got any presentable snaps so you will just have to check it out yourself sometime! The safari walk was great and as with the desert area it was nice to see the animals from a more natural perspective than through bars.


The Rhino on his way to bully the poor Zebras away from their lunch


The Giraffes and Zebras sharing a snack 


To fit in with the running theme of “animals eating”

All in all it was a brilliant day out and I would recommend a visit to Burgers Zoo. Definitely one of the better zoos in the Netherlands when it comes to keeping it natural and meeting the animals needs.

Lets hope I can get the next post up quicker this time! Once again , SORRY!

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Was in England last week visiting friends and it was lambing weekend at Reaseheath College, my favourite time of the year ! 🙂 I have a slight obsession with sheep , all down to my granddad who I helped throughout my childhood with his small flock of 20+ sheep. They all had names and some of them would even come when called by that name which was very handy.


All the mums to be !

With lots of sheep and lambs born every half hour or so , it was definitely my kind of day out:


this little chap just had to be cuddled , he did love a good scratch behind the ear, bit more puppy like then lamb :p


Mummy giving her new born twins a good clean


This new mum has a hard road ahead of her with 3 mouths to feed 🙂 

As well as the lambing event you could also have a look around the Reaseheath Zoo, one of the only times in the year which it is open to the public.


watching carefully over the goings on 


One of the Otters have a good look around 


The giant hissing cockroach , getting a bit bored of being picked up all day

The sun shined for most of the day and it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon , so if you happen to be in Cheshire during Feb/March keep an eye out on them lambing weekend dates 😉

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While working as an Au-Pair in Belgium, my host dad bought me a season ticket to Antwerpen zoo. Found myself spending way too much time there just watching the animals (on my own). While for appeal and variety I must say it’s great, but did feel they were a bit behind the times on the welfare end of things.

The beautiful central station as seen from the zoo

Antwerpen zoo could not be easier to get to, literally step out of the Central Station and there it is to your right. It can be seen from all over the zoo, but luckily not heard so easily. It is so much better when visited on a quiet day, I made the mistake of going one sunny Sunday afternoon and there was not a minute’s peace!

One of my favourite parts of the zoo had to be the Lions as they seemed to be the most content out of most large mammals in the zoo. They recently had a new enclosure built which was so much more spacious then the dreary enclosure they had previous (which was not unlike the tiny Tigers enclosure)

Spacious and enriching Asiatic Lion enclosure compared to . . . . .

the not so great Siberian Tiger enclosure.

All over the zoo the animals tend to be really easy to see and up close. This is great for visitors, maybe not so great for the animals, depending. The avian species of animal in the zoo were mostly housed in old style cages with thick black bars. In several cases it would have been easy for an adult or child to put their hand through the bars. I managed to get this beautiful photo of the Caracara thanks to the dreaded cage :

the stunning Caracara posing 🙂

This was before a somewhat ignorant man decided it would be fun to taunt the bird with his map and pull at him from through the bars, the downside of such enclosures.

the Caracara getting frustrated with the man with no sense . .

There was an avian section which I found to be a very clever use of species specific behaviour towards light. Instead of using a solid barrier they used a light barrier to contain the various species of birds as seen below :

The light controlled bird enclosures

My favourite thing about Antwerpen zoo was simply the quaintness of it all, I can only imagine it to be so much nicer in the spring when flowers and trees are in full might. It had a “city park” feel. Aside from when I was evaluating enclosures and feeling sorry for the animals (my degree’s fault) I really enjoyed just wandering around enjoying the sights and sounds 🙂

One of the buildings and gardens within the Zoo

Overall if you don’t mind crude enclosures, pacing big Cats and swaying Elephants then it isn’t an all bad zoo, nice place to take the family or just go for a wander alone!

Finally because everybody loves penguins . . . :

The attention seeker . .

Yawn !

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