Posts Tagged ‘Zoo’

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Did you know that there are less than 1000 Bactrian Camels left in the wild? The number is currently estimated to be around 500-600. This is a startling number, considering how popular these two-humped ungulates are in zoos and circuses across the world, not to mention thousands of Bactrian camel herds which have been bred domestically over the years living in large herds (app 2million).

The wild Bactrian Camel is currently found only in Northwest China and in Southwest Mongolia (Gobi Desert).In order to survive the harsh conditions of their main habitat the Bactrian Camel features a double set of eyelashes, a hair lined inner ear and thin nostrils to protect against dust and sandstorms. After the harsh winters they can quickly shed their thick shaggy coats to adjust effectively to the changing seasons.

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Batrian Camel shedding lumps of fur for the warmer weather.

Food and water are not always readily available and the Camel has a great coping mechanism for this as well , being able to last sometimes for months on end without water. They do this by converting the fat stored in their two large humps into water when resources are scarce. It also helps that they can feed on dry and sometimes thorny plants that most herbivores avoid as well as drink salt water when fresh food and water are hard to find.

The Bactrian Camels demise is entirely down to human interference. The main reasons for their endangerment being: Habitat loss due to industrial development, and increasing human population forcing the mixing of wild populations and domestic herds. While they are masters of survival in their harsh habitats the battle against humans and extinction is proving one battle they may not win unless conservation efforts see a huge turn around in the future.

For more information on the conservation of the wonderful Bactrian Camel check out :

http://www.wildcamels.com/

http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=8

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Wildlife conservation is a hot topic in this century due to the increase in endangered animals and plants across the globe throughout recent years. I will be going through some of my favourite and sadly at risk animals one by one in hopes to inspire more people to get involved in conservation. There is so much that can be done to help and some people just need and extra nudge to actually stand up and do something about the diminishing numbers of our earths beautiful wildlife. Every small gesture, every penny put into trusted conservation organisations, will go a long way to the future, so spread the word!

Today’s animal in the spotlight is the Asiatic Lion (Panthera Leo Persica); one of the 7 currently recognized subspecies of lion and one of the most endangered. I fell in love with this majestic king of the jungle when writing up an enclosure evaluation for the Asiatic lion enclosure at Chester Zoo during my second year at University. Watching the beautiful female and her male, I really grew to respect their strength and elegance. To see them in the wild would be a dream come true, however with numbers at a low, this may not be possible for very long.

Only a single population of this subspecies exists in the wild, resident to the Gir Forest in India and with a constant threat coming from poaching and limited gene pool for expansion, this number is currently stable. . In 2000 the ICUN Red list had listed the Asiatic lion as “critically endangered” however since captive breeding programmes and conservation efforts have been put into place, they are now rated as “endangered”. The current estimated wild population is around 359 and with less than 100 in captive breeding programmes the outlook is bleak for the Asiatic Lion.

Like the African lions, the Asiatic lions live in prides, however of smaller size, with the normal pride consisting of up to two females. In the dry deciduous scrubland of the Gir Forest they feed mainly on deer and domesticated cattle (at the cost of angry farmers) however they will also eat wild boar and water buffalo when they can.

It was around the same time that firearms became popular that the number of Asiatic lions across Asia went into steep decline and where pushed into the small population in India that exists now. Only time will tell the faith of the Asiatic lion, however with a limited gene pool and breeding with African lions, the question is more: “when”? rather than “If”?

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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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