Tails From The Zoo

Construction To Begin On Zoo’s Old Bear Range June 8, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Assiniboine Park Conservancy announced plans today for its new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at a unique “snow-turning” ceremony today. Construction is scheduled to begin next week on a new transition centre for orphaned polar bear cubs. The $4.5-million education and research facility and polar bear “transition centre” in Assiniboine Park Zoo will be a world-wide centre for Arctic conservation. The new building is to be constructed behind the zoo’s existing bear enclosure.

The transition centre will be off limits to the public most of the time but a new state-of-the- art Arctic exhibit, with room for six adult polar bears will open in 2013 for public viewing of bears.  The Province of Manitoba has committed $31 million to the project, including $4.5 million for the conservation centre and more than $26 million for construction of the polar bear arctic exhibit.

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For more information on this story, please see the following coverage:

Winnipeg Free Press: Work Set to Begin On Rescue Facility

ChrisD.ca:  Snow Turned on First Phase of Polar Bear Centre

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Biodiversity – Our Life May 21, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Canada’s other 24 accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity — the animals, plants, and countless other life forms that make up the world’s ecosystems.  May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.  The Assiniboine Park Zoo is hosting a Biodiversity Display and Turtle Talk on May 22, 11 am to 3 pm, in the Tropical House, and is highlighting biodiversity conservation in many of its annual programs, such as school presentations, Spring and Summer Zoo Camps, and interpretive talks around the zoo.  Biodiversity promotional materials will also be available to zoo visitors.

2010 Biodiversity Logo

2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and  its partners have identified the Arctic region as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. They are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country.  In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, CAZA will be working closely with its partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International.”

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about wildlife and environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. Thousands of organisms – including bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals — live above, on and under a single square metre of the earth’s surface. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity, we lose life itself.

“It’s easy to forget that people are an integral part of Nature and that our lives are tied intimately to the living things around us.” said CAZA President Rachel Leger. “Biodiversity provides us with the oxygen, food, water, fuel, fibre, and medicine we need to survive. And our actions can either preserve or destroy these resources.”

 

Arctic Biodiversity Initiative May 20, 2010


Ottawa, May 20 – Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity in our Arctic. May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.

“2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity” declared Rachel Leger, President of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “CAZA and its partners have identified our Arctic regions as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. We are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country. In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we will be working closely with our partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International”.

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. The variety of life on earth – the plants and animals that make up ecosystems – is called biodiversity. Thousands of organisms – bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals – live and thrive above, on and under a single square foot of earth. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity we lose life itself.

At first glance its vast, icy surface might seem empty, but Canada’s Arctic is filled with extremely rich and active ecosystems. From tiny plankton to huge whales, entire communities of animals and plants make their homes on, under or at the edge of the ice.

The unique polar species that live in the Arctic are specially adapted to its extreme conditions – freezing temperatures, strong winds, deep snow, thick ice and permafrost. Even slight changes to the Arctic’s fragile habitats can have a huge impact on these species, and human activities are taking their toll. Pollution, climate change and development all affect Arctic temperature, habitat and available food sources. As their Arctic home continues to change, polar bears, belugas, caribou and the smaller northern animals and plants that support them face an uncertain future.

Protecting species and habitats with national parks, working jointly with Inuit communities to manage these parks, conducting scientific research and spreading the message to Canadians across the country are all part of the cooperative approach inspired by the International Year of Biodiversity and being implemented by CAZA and its three partners. Education programs, lectures, special events, community presentations and other activities will be carried out at each of the participating accredited zoos and aquariums across the country. CAZA members will also help out with Arctic field work and the research that supports it – and will invite Canadians to contribute to this worthwhile endeavour. This special effort is intended to build on the extensive work carried out by Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums in captive breeding and population management programs.

A wealth of information about the Arctic, its biodiversity challenges and what is being done to address them can be found on a new, specially-designed website at www.ourarctic.ca

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Polar Bears International (PBI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their habitat through research, stewardship, and education. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public worldwide.

The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a not for profit national organization that represents Canada’s 25 accredited zoos and aquariums. It sets standards through its accreditation program, leads and coordinates work in the fields of research, conservation and education, and represents its members’ interests with governments at all levels.

For further information:

Bill Peters

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 

World Tapir Day Happens On April 27 April 19, 2010

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Eco-Dates,Extinction — Scott Gray @ 8:25 am
Tags:

World Tapir Day occurs on April 27 every year. Are you ready?

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The following information on tapirs comes directly from the Official World Tapir Day website: http://www.tapirday.org/

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World Tapir Day has been established, in the first instance, to raise awareness about the four species of tapir that inhabit Central and South America and South-East Asia. Each of the four species is in decline, with the Mountain Tapir (below left) facing extinction within the next twenty years, should conservation efforts not be introduced in its ever-shrinking natural range in Colombia and Ecuador. The Baird’s Tapir (below right), the largest mammal of the Americas, is facing a similar threat in its home range in Central America. Across the Pacific Ocean, the Malayan Tapir faces severe threats in Indonesia and other countries due to habitat destruction. Even the Brazilian Tapir, the most numerous species of tapir, is vulnerable because of the increasing rate of destruction of the Amazon. There may even be a fifth, distinct subspecies of Brazilian Tapir, but there is little research in this area to date.

As large herbivores, tapirs are invariably the first species affected by human encroachment into their territory, and amongst the last to return to regrowth forest. They require substantial tracts of undisturbed land to maintain a genetically-diverse population. Tapirs inhabit jungles, grasslands, swamps and cloud forests, yet each is threatened by human activity – be that mining, palm oil plantations, roads or settlements. They form an important part of the ecosystem as seed dispersers, and form one of the oldest surviving genera in the animal kingdom.

Despite their size, history and ecological importance, tapirs remain one of the least recognised species of animals. In comparison with other animals, tapirs feature little in the collective consciousness and are frequently misidentified by zoo visitors. Even in their home ranges, tapirs receive little attention, with exotic species featuring more prominently in zoos, children’s books and the media.

Mountain tapir standing in a river

Mountain tapir

Baird's tapir

Baird's tapir

Photos are copyright: http://www.arkive.org

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The plight of tapirs is symbolic for the wider threat to their habitats specifically, and the world’s ecology in general. The decline of tapir populations is indicative of the general health of their ranges; their disappearance from their home ranges often marks a point of ‘no return’ for the natural environment. The destruction of forests into small, isolated enclaves and the encroachment of human activity into pristine forests affects all native species. However, as the largest – yet perhaps the quietest – of animals in their ranges, tapirs disappear without trace with countless other species.

All tapirs are endangered species. Saving tapirs helps to save the rainforest. Saving rainforests helps to save the planet and prevent climate change.

 

More Bad News for Tigers January 25, 2010

Two recent stories by the Associated Press highlight how precariously close to extinction some of our iconic species really are. The Amur (aka Siberian) tiger is doing very poorly in the wild, and an upturn in poaching and pollution will likely decrease an already low population.

The first story highlights the ongoing issues of oil pipelines and transportation, the second highlights poaching demands:

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WWF fears for Siberian tiger after Russian oil leak

MOSCOW — A leak from Russia’s new Siberian oil pipeline shows the potentially damaging consequences the project could have for the endangered Siberian tiger, an environmental campaign group warned on Friday.

Please CLICK HERE to read the whole story

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Poachers threaten Malaysia’s defence of tigers: WWF

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Conservationists called on Wednesday for a war on the poachers who are undermining Malaysia’s ambitious goal to double its population of wild tigers to 1,000.

With 2010 declared the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese zodiac, experts fear there will be an upsurge in poaching of one of the world’s most endangered species.

Please CLICK HERE to read the whole story

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If you would like to learn more about tigers and other big cats or if you would like to learn more about the issues facing endangered animals, please contact the Zoo Education Centre to book a tour or school program. You can also visit our website at www.zoosociety.com for more information on our programs.

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The Assiniboine Park Zoo houses two Amur tigers, a male named Baikal and a female named Kendra. They are part of a Species Survival Program.

 

Animal News from Around the World December 19, 2009

Capybara enjoy a traditional Japanese hot bath:

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/22825103/vp/34380383#34380383

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Extinctions on the rise in the Galapagos: fishing and global warming devastating islands’ species

“If marine species are going extinct in one of the most famous, and most cherished World Heritage Sites, what is happening in the rest of the world that has been so little studied?” asks report coauthor Scott Henderson, Conservation International’s Regional Marine Conservation Director in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1203-hance_galapagos.html

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Rhino Poaching Surges in Asia, Africa

ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2009) — Rhino poaching worldwide is on the rise, according to a new report by TRAFFIC and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091201182626.htm

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When baboon troops go to war: (video contain disturbing images for some people)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8400000/8400019.stm

“Baboons are one of the most aggressive primates out there”

Miss Rosie Thomas, BBC Life production team member

 

Funding Announcement for Polar Bears at the Assiniboine Park Zoo December 3, 2009

Premiere Greg Selinger was on hand at the Assiniboine Park Zoo today to announce a huge commitment to polar bear conservation at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Here are a few news articles for more information:

Big Funding for Polar Bear Exhibit, Rescue Shelter

Dec. 03, 2009 at 2:30 pm CDT in News

Posted by Sarah Klein

A big funding announcement was made Thursday for major upgrades to the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s polar bear exhibit.

A $31-million investment will help create the world headquarters of Polar Bears International and a state-of-the-art rescue shelter right here in Winnipeg.

The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre will conduct and co-ordinate polar bear rescue research, conservation and public-education initiatives, Premier Greg Selinger and Hartley Richardson, board chair of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a statement.

A new arctic exhibit will feature a polar bear enclosure with underwater and above-ground viewing opportunities to enable visitors to come face to face with up to six bears. Current plans call for the exhibit to also feature caribou, arctic fox, snowy owls and musk oxen, said Selinger.

Winnipeg hasn’t had a polar bear since Debby passed away last November.

Construction is slated to begin in 2011.

Polar bear exhibit, shelter eyed for Winnipeg zoo

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 | 12:30 PM CT

CBC News

Debby is seen in her enclosure in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo in December 2006, during celebrations of her 40th birthday. (CBC)

A new polar bear rescue shelter and polar bear exhibit will be the centrepieces of a conservation centre to be constructed at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced the plan, as well as a contribution of $31 million, on Thursday.

Construction on the centre, which will include a state-of-the-art polar bear enclosure, will start in 2011, said Hartley Richardson, board chair of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

The enclosure will have underwater and above-ground viewing opportunities to enable visitors to come face to face with up to six bears, he said.

It will be part of a new arctic exhibit that will also feature caribou, arctic fox, snowy owls and musk oxen, said Selinger.

The zoo has been without a polar bear since its long-time resident, Debby, died in 2008 at age 42. The zoo has not been able to get another polar bear because its enclosure no longer met provincial standards.

Polar bear research

The first of its kind in North America, the polar bear centre will conduct and co-ordinate polar bear rescue research, conservation and public education initiatives, said Selinger.

It will also co-ordinate a relocation network that will facilitate the process for permanently placing orphaned or injured animals in qualifying zoos.

“As the home of Churchill, the world’s polar bear capital, there is no better place than Manitoba to host this centre of research and education on the impact climate change is having on our polar bears,” Selinger said.

‘As the home of Churchill, the world’s polar bear capital, there is no better place than Manitoba to host this centre of research and education on the impact climate change is having on our polar bears.’—Premier Greg Selinger

Added Richardson: “Manitoba has been a world leader in the management of polar bears, which have become an international symbol for climate change’s effects on the world. We are very pleased to see this exciting initiative is moving forward.”

Polar Bears International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their Arctic habitat, applauded the province on the plans and leadership involving the animals.

“The Polar Bear Alert program and the Manitoba standards for polar bears in zoos are just two examples of this leadership,” said Robert Buchanan, CEO of Polar Bears International.

“By providing funding for the international polar bear conservation centre, Manitoba will remain on the cutting edge in terms of polar bear research and stewardship.”

Assiniboine Park Conservancy is a non-profit corporation mandated to establish a vision for the park, create a plan to ensure it realizes its visions and govern the implementation of strategies toward the revitalization and transformation of the park.

Polar bears’ early arrival eyed

Province to announce funding; construction could start in 2011

By: Bartley Kives and Bruce Owen

3/12/2009 1:00 AM

The Assiniboine Park Zoo has been without a polar bear since Debby died last year at age 42.

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy may begin building a state-of-the-art polar-bear enclosure in 2011, years earlier than previously expected.

This morning, the Manitoba government plans to announce a contribution toward the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, a $5-million enclosure and education facility slated for Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The largest zoo in Manitoba, the self-proclaimed polar bear capital of the world, has been without a member of the iconic Arctic species since 2008, when 42-year-old zoo resident Debby died. The zoo is unable to acquire another adult polar bear because its existing bear enclosure, built in the 1950s, no longer meets Manitoba Conservation standards for the species.

Young polar bears, however, could be housed at the zoo temporarily as part of a plan to make Winnipeg the centre of international polar-bear education as well as rescue efforts for orphan polar bears found anywhere in the Arctic.

The non-profit Assiniboine Park Conservancy plans to build a polar-bear centre that will include a new enclosure with an underwater viewing area, an interactive link to polar-bear denning grounds near Churchill as well as a polar-ecology and climate-change research facility.

Young polar bears could arrive even before construction begins.

“If a polar bear becomes available, we’ll do our best to ensure it finds a home,” zoo co-ordinator Gordon Glover said in June, when the plan was first announced.

“We will have a facility that will allow them to survive in way that’s decent and respectful for them,” Premier Greg Selinger said Wednesday.

Zoo visitors likely won’t be able to see the orphan cubs, which will be fed and cared for behind closed doors in order to acclimatize them for life in other zoos.

Orphan polar bears are never returned to the wild, where they would die of exposure, starvation or cannibalistic predation.

“We’re not doing this to show people polar-bear cubs, as cute as they are. We’re doing this to keep cubs alive,” Bob Williams, the Canadian chairman for Polar Bears International, also said in June.

Selinger would not say Wednesday how much the province will contribute to the new polar-bear centre. No federal funding is involved, but the conservancy is seeking private donors.

The polar-bear facility is the most dramatic aspect of a $90-million Assiniboine Park Zoo revitalization plan.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2009