Known only by museum specimens and a few captive individuals, one of the world’s rarest turtle species – the Arakan forest turtle – has been observed for the first time in the wild.  Read more on

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"Zoo Insider" - 5 new articles

  1. Scientists See Rare Turtle for First Time in the Wild
  2. Bush Meat and What Zoos Are Doing
  3. Parrot Saves Choking Girl
  4. Frogs Found Living in Elephant Dung
  5. Polly Want a Passport?
  6. More Recent Articles

Scientists See Rare Turtle for First Time in the Wild


Known only by museum specimens and a few captive individuals, one of the world’s rarest turtle species – the Arakan forest turtle – has been observed for the first time in the wild.  Read more on


Bush Meat and What Zoos Are Doing

Eventually, I’ll get a constant update schedule for this blog.  I’m thinking once a week is plausible, but summer is a tough time because I’m actually outside a lot in the summer! I’m going to Costa Rica next month and I plan to blog about my trip here, complete with photos.  I need to redo the photo section of this site too.  It’s way to bulky.  If I have time to go to the San Jose zoo I will, but I’m not really interested in zoos this trip!

Anyway, I saw a story on the bush meat crisis in Madagascar on National Geographic this morning and I thought about this site.

Since a March coup d’etat in the island country, long-nurtured conservation measures have quickly fallen by the wayside—making lemurs the targets of hunting gangs.

The criminals are fueling demand for a new bush-meat delicacy in the country’s upscale restaurants, according to the nonprofit Conservation International.

No one knows how many lemurs have been killed, but species such as the golden crowned sifaka—considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—are being targeted.

Horrible news.  It’s almost shocking that upscale restaurants are serving endangered lemur meat.  Shocking news like this is one way zoos can really bring home conservation.   I’ve talked to a lot of people about bush meat in my time at a zoo and many never knew it was real.  Generally they get mad when you tell them about it or scoff “That doesn’t happen anymore.”

It’s one of the most disgusting, most “hidden” aspects of conservation. Though groups have been pushing to publicize the issue for years, I’ve seen a recent upsurge in knowledge about the awful practice.  Why is that? It’s probably because I’ve also seen a recent upsurge in educational displays about bush meat in zoo primate areas.  The AZA even has even created a Bush Meat Crisis Task Force (this was created in 1999, but it seems like the trend for zoos to display info is more recent).

So, who cares if people know about this practice? Well, it’s true that most people will just be shocked and disgusted (I’ve even seen one mom rush a child away from a particularly graphic bush meat display at one zoo), some actually will pick up the cause.  It may just by a donation to an organization (which most zoos will supply information for, some even have donation boxes setup outside the exhibits, which is a great idea) or even by telling other people who will pick up the cause and learn more.

Knowledge is power.  If all a zoo does is teach people about the crisis,  that very powerful.  At least people are talking about it now, and it’s not a dirty little secret.  However, if out of every 100 people who cross by an exhibit about bush meat everyday, even one person is inspired to act or even donate, imagine how powerful that would be.  This is what zoos have the power to do. The not only serve to educate, but to inspire people to act.

More about bush meat. How you can help (AZA).


Parrot Saves Choking Girl

This is an older story, but I just ran across it.

AP Photo/

A Quaker parrot in Denver was left alone in a room with a child his owner was babysitting. The owner left the room and the little girl, Hannah, started to choke on her breakfast.

Apparently, Willie, the parrot, yelled “Mama, baby” and flapped his wings, alerting the babysitter who returned to the room to find and save the child.

Quackers are generally loud so who knows if he knew what was going on or if he was just screaming.

It does make Alex look even smarter than he looked. Willie was given an Animal Lifesaver Award by the Red Cross.
Read more about Willie.

AP Photo/

Frogs Found Living in Elephant Dung

Three different species of frogs have been discovered living in the dung of the Asian elephant in southeastern Sri Lanka. The discovery—the first time anyone has recorded frogs living in elephant droppings—has widespread conservation implications both for frogs and Asian elephants, which are in decline.

The dung is suspected to help keep the frogs moist during the arid parts of the year. Elephant dung is fibrous, provides good shelter and full of invertebrates for the frogs to eat.

He also studied the dung and found all sorts of invertebrates living in it. Apparently, elephants provide for a host of animals to live.

This isn’t good news, considering the declining populations of elephants. We would not only lose one of the largest mammals, but we’d also likely lose some of the tiny creatures they provide homes for.

Everything is connected.


Polly Want a Passport?

This is just a funny story from AOL.  A kea in new Zealand spied a fellow’s passport in his bag, took it and headed off into the bush.

The owner of the passport said:

My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The Kea’s probably using it for fraudulent claims or something,” the passport owner, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper.

keaOf course, the passport hasn’t been recovered and I’m sure it’s going to be a pain for the man to get a new one.  It’s probably not as funny to him.

Let that be a lesson not to leave important documents unprotected.


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