After Hurricane Irma, zoo confirms that animals are okay

After Hurricane Irma lashed the Miami, Florida, an official at the Miami Zoo has confirmed that the thousands of animals who call the property “home,” are okay. According to TODAY, there was damage to trees and some fences at the zoo, but 3000 animals all came through the massive storm unscathed.

Ron Magill, the Zoo Director, told TODAY that the preparations that employees made for the animals, as well as the reinforced structures at the facility, ensured that the animals would be safe as the hurricane swept through the area.

On Wednesday, before Irma hit the area, the zoo released a statement that there would be no animal evacuations. The statement read:

“We don’t evacuate our animals since hurricanes can change direction at the last minute and you run the risk of evacuating to a more dangerous location. Furthermore, the stress of moving the animals can be more dangerous than riding out the storm. The animals that are considered dangerous will stay in their secure night houses, which are made of poured concrete and welded metal. These animals survived Andrew without injuries. We’ve loaded up on additional food and water, our generators have been tested and ready to go. In addition, we’ve stored all cycles and removed debris.”

Fortunately, all is well for these animals!

Prior article about the Miami Zoo here.

More news and updates at the National Animal News Facebook page.


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Animal lovers worry for fate of whale at Miami Seaquariam

Animal lovers are worried about the fate of a killer whale who is held captive at Miami Seaquarium. In fact, a “Prayers for Lolita” event has even been created on Facebook for the whale who will be riding out Hurricane Irma…apparently alone.

Lolita lives in a tank at the Seaquarium which is self-describe as a “38-acre tropical paradise.” Recently, the Miami Herald reported that Lolita’s tank is “woefully small,” and a recent audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that the tank may not meet size requirements for the captive whale.

On a good day, without a Category 4 Hurricane, the tank is believed to be too small to give Lolita adequate “freedom of movement.” There are current concerns that the tank is so small that the whale will be unable to dive and escape potential hazards created by the massive storm.

No word about Lolita’s current situation on the Miami Seaquarium Facebook page; on Sept. 7, the business wrote:

Miami Seaquarium has been open at its present location since 1955 and it has withstood its fair share of storms. The park has an experienced and dedicated team working diligently to ensure our animals are safe.

 

More news and updates at the National Animal News Facebook page.


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Miami Zoo hunkers down for Hurricane Irma

How does a zoo protect their animals from possible injury during a Category 5 hurricane? Fortunately, the eye of Hurricane Irma has slowly been moving away from the Miami Zoo, but there are still major safety concerns. Hurricane conditions are expected to continue for days.

In a statement  on Wednesday, the Miami Zoo said it would not evacuate animals “since hurricanes can change direction at the last minute, and you run the risk of evacuating to a more dangerous location.” How true that turned out to be!

“We don’t evacuate our animals since hurricanes can change direction at the last minute and you run the risk of evacuating to a more dangerous location. Furthermore, the stress of moving the animals can be more dangerous than riding out the storm. The animals that are considered dangerous will stay in their secure night houses, which are made of poured concrete and welded metal. These animals survived Andrew without injuries. We’ve loaded up on additional food and water, our generators have been tested and ready to go. In addition, we’ve stored all cycles and removed debris.”

Thinking back to 1992 when Hurricane Andrew set his sights for Miami, the zoo’s 30 flamingos were ushered into the men’s bathroom. Ron Magill, the zoo’s assistant curator at the time, helped to get the birds settled and popped the viral photo of the flamingos standing next to urinals; the photo went viral and has continued to be a reminder of the compassion and devotion the zoo staff maintains for the safety of their animals. After Andrew, a concrete holding block was added to the flamingo exhibit designed specifically for major hurricanes.

As for the animals moved inside for more protection, large birds and small mammals in areas not made of concrete will be relocated. Most of the zoo animals, including tigers, lions and great apes, will be kept in their concrete-made night quarters. Zoo Miami said in its Facebook page that it has “loaded up on additional food and water” and that its “generators have been tested and ready to go…we’ve stored all cycles and removed debris.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, made up of 230 animal care facilities in the United States and overseas, require that all of its members conduct an annual emergency preparedness drill “to update their protocols every year,” according to NPR.

“This isn’t our first rodeo,” Ron Magill told CNN on Thursday as workers and volunteers were busy getting organized. “Since 1992 we went through Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina, which gave us substantial damage…we’re in the process of locking down the zoo, and we got all the shutters up.”

Though Zoo Miami was devastated by Hurricane Andrew, Magill says most of the animals survived without a scratch — including all 30 of the flamingos.

(Photos of Miami Zoo hunkers down via Facebook and Twitter)

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Mysterious death of African elephant puzzles Zoo Miami staff

The mysterious death of an African elephant on Tuesday, at Zoo Miami continues to puzzle the entire staff. Since July 12, when zookeepers found 44-year-old Lisa lying on her side in the Elephant Barn, the elephant had been under close observation and supervision. Although Lisa had been considered elderly for an elephant in captivity, her death was a shock. Statistically the species does better in the wild and average 50 to 60 years in native habitats.

Lisa was born in the wild and is considered a species vulnerable to extinction; she had been one of four older elephants brought to Zoo Miami last year to live out their retirements. According to WtkrNews, Lisa, along with 49-year-old African elephant Cita, were some of  Northfolk, Virginia Zoo’s most famous residents. They joined the other two aged elephants – Mabel and Peggy. Lisa had lived at the Virginia zoo for more than 40 years.

Multiple health tests didn’t show any illness, and after her health “episode,” she had been standing and eating. Elephants normally sleep standing up. Affectionately known as the “Golden Girls” after the popular television sitcom featuring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, Lisa’s death has greatly impacted the staff.

“For all of us it’s a tremendous loss,” Ron Magill, zoo spokesperson stated, who added that staff tried to help the 8,400 elephant back onto her feet before she died. “It’s like losin a member of the family.

A necropsy will be performed to determine her cause of death.

Rest in peace Lisa. We still think wild animals should be left “wild.”

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(Photo of African elephant Lisa via the Virginia Zoo)


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Zoo animals run in circles during solar eclipse or was it the humans?

Monday afternoon seemed to have been a confusing time for the animals at the Nashville Zoo during the solar eclipse. More than 7,000 humans gathered at the zoo to watch the total eclipse and at the same time, use their cameras in a safer manner by photographing the giraffes, rhinoceroses and flamingos that showed some unusual behavior during the phenomena.

According to the Tennessean, experts however aren’t sure if the animals reacted to the eclipse or the throngs of people screaming and yelling.

“The Rhinos, most of the time they slept,” said Amelia Davis, an animal keeper. “It’s what they do during that time period. When it started to get dark, they stood up and ran to the back to gate and hung out. Once it was light again, they went back to sleeping.

“But we aren’t sure if it was the eclipse or thousands of people screaming.”

Crickets were noisier as the darkness emerged, but it was the humans who drowned out any sounds from the animals as people clapped, “oohing and aahing” for the two minutes the total eclipse lasted. In the flamingo pen, the birds gathered closer together. It isn’t unusual for flamingos to huddle together when they are agitated.

Once the lights came back on, that’s when the animals reacted again! The two youngster giraffes, Mazi, 6-months-old and Nasha, 3-years-old danced around in circles.

Not all the animals were affected by the eclipse. Nothing much happened with the primates nor with the wild cats.

All in all, no doubt the humans were the most affected; think of it as the zoo denizens calming their keepers and guests.

(Photos of animals during solar eclipse via twitter Nikki Burdine and Jason Gonzales)

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Seaworld veterinarians euthanize sick orca: Third whale to die at park this year

Kasatka, the 42-year-old matriarch of the orca family was euthanized at SeaWorld on Tuesday after losing her long battle with a lung disease. The killer whale was one of the last to be captured in the wild for the San Diego park; she is the second death at the marine parks in a month. The tragic announcement in a press release stated she “was surrounded by members of her pod, as well as the veterinarians and caretakers who loved her” when she died.

“We are saddened to share the passing of Kasatka today (August 15, 2017) at SeaWorld San Diego. Following lengthy treatment for a bacterial respiratory infection, or lung disease, Kasatka’s health and appetite significantly declined over the past several days, despite continually tailored treatments. Kasatka’s veterinarians, who are experts in marine animal medicine, and her caretakers made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her to prevent compromising her quality of life.”

Kristi Burtis, an orca behaviorist spent years with Kasatka:

“Today, I lost a member of my family. I have spent the past several years with Kasatka and was truly blessed to be part of her life. Although I am heartbroken, I am grateful for the special time we had together and for the difference she has made for wild orcas by all that we have learned from her. I adored Kasatka and loved sharing her with millions of people. I will miss her very much.”

Less than a month ago, a three-month-old baby whale died in S; meaWorld’s park located in San Antonio after she succumbed to pneumonia. In March 2016, SeaWorld announced the end of its breeding program following years of criticism and pressure from animal advocates and animal rights organizations. Tilikum, the killer whale who accidentally killed his trainer, Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010 by dragging her into the pool before a crowd full of visitors died in January from pneumonia.

The documentary ‘Blackfish’ published in 2013 brought more criticism to the breeding program. The organization has not brought in any wild orcas in 40 years; most were born in captivity. There are still 21 orcas in the United States – the youngest Amaya, was born in 2014.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) continue to call out the company and release all of the parks’ orcas to sea pens or coastal sanctuaries. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has alleged SeaWorld has avoided press coverage in order to conceal the declining health of the orca until Tuesday when she was euthanized.

(Photos via SeaWorld webpages)

Read previous coverage of the death of the baby orca here.

Rest in peace beautiful one. You will be missed and we are sorry you were not allowed to be free:

Panda abuse? Video goes viral after keeper appears to mistreat cubs

At China’s most prestigious panda breeding facility, a video recorded on July 12, which has since garnered viral status, seems to be showing a keeper mistreat two panda cubs. At the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, one of the staff members appears to throw, push and drag two cubs.

According to the Telegraph, a debate continues as to whether the keeper had been treating the cubs in a cruel manner or whether the behavior of the cubs had been aggressive and the staff member had reacted appropriately. Guo Jingpeng, one of the panda keepers, explained that he had been feeding the cubs their milk when one of the babies became aggressive and violent.

“It bit my hand really hard, its teeth cut into the flesh and my hand started bleeding,” Mr. Jingpeng stated. “When it tried to bite me again, I pushed it away out of instinct.”

The cubs, Rourou and Manman are seen following the keeper out of the door of their enclosure. Animal advocates criticized the keepers in a country where pandas are the national symbol. Once pandas reach a year or two old, they can become violent from too much external stimulation.

Xie Huhai, another bear keeper, says he is often injured by the cubs indicating that scratches and bites are common occurrences, however the men have assured local news outlets the pandas will be treated “gently” even when they try to bite or scratch.

Nevertheless the criticism about the treatment of the cubs continued on Weibo, the popular microblogging site:

“It made me so angry to watch him throw a defenseless cub around. If he was so worried about his safety, why wasn’t he wearing protective equipment like gloves?, ” one blogger wrote.

Although pandas have been removed from the “endangered” list with numbers at 2,000 giant pandas with their population slowly increasing, the adorable looking bears are still classified as “vulnerable.”

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Photos via screenshots of video. What do you think?

Last orca born in captivity at San Antonio SeaWorld dies at 3 months old

On Monday, the last orca to have been born at SeaWorld died after just three months of life, the press release announced via SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. The calf, named Kyara, died from “very serious and progressive health issues over the last week” at the park located in San Antonio, Texas.

“A full post-mortem examination is being conducted, which may take several weeks to be completed. Our team was treating her for a serious case of pneumonia, which was the start of her declining health… This weekend Kyara, the 3-month-old killer whale calf at SeaWorld San Antonio, was being treated at the park’s Animal Hospital for an infection. The dedicated team of veterinarians and care staff spent the last three days providing critical care for Kyara, but despite their best efforts, her health continued to decline and she passed away earlier today.”

In a prepared statement, orca trainer Julie Sigman stressed Kyara had made a tremendous impact on staff as well as guests who had visited SeaWorld to see her. In April, when Takara, the baby’s mother gave birth, SeaWorld called it “an exciting and emotional day.” In March, however, amidst a significant backlash of criticism from animal activists group throughout the nation, the breeding program was ended.

In the 2103 documentary Blackfish, which exposed the cruel treatment of the orcas and the physical, mental and emotional impact on the animals, visitors stopped visiting the park with the decline in attendance and the adverse publicity seriously affecting the company’s stock.

Although there still remain 22 orcas in the San Antonio and Orlando parks, and the whales are still taught to perform in their concrete prisons, the theatrics are coming to an end in San Diego and San Antonio. Sadly Kyara never did get the chance to swim in the ocean as any whale should be entitled, PETA lamented on Twitter  Monday morning.

Rest in peace Kyara. We are sorry you were never free.

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World’s oldest-known manatee dies after tragic accident

At the age of 69, “Snooty,” the world’s oldest-known manatee, has died. According to the South Florida Museum, the popular manatee died after a “tragic accident.”

On Sunday, the devastating news was released to followers of the South Florida Museum Facebook page:

The South Florida Museum is deeply saddened to share the news that our beloved Snooty has died. Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and the circumstances are being investigated so we can be sure we know the full details of what happened.

Shortly thereafter, a press release offered more details about what happened to the beloved manatee:

Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. Early indications are that a panel that is kept bolted shut had somehow been dislodged and that Snooty was able to swim in. The other three manatees undergoing rehabilitation in Snooty’s habitat — Randall, Baca and Gale — are all fine.

The natural and cultural museum added:

Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss. The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.

Snooty was born on July 21, 1948 at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company – he moved to Bradenton in 1949. In 1979 he became Manatee County’s official mascot.

Rest in peace Snooty.

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Zoo issues heartbreaking update about baby giraffe ‘Julius’

On Friday, animal lovers received a heartbreaking update about a baby giraffe named “Julius.” The giraffe, just one month of age, did not survive – the sad news was shared via Facebook with followers of the Maryland Zoo on Friday:

 It’s hard to even write the words. Julius is gone. After weeks of effort, intensive medical treatments and round-the-clock hands on care, today the team made a decision they never wanted to have to make.

Staff at the zoo had been working their hardest to help Julius overcome his physical ailments, but their efforts weren’t enough to keep him alive. The zoo explained:

Since Julius’ birth and the beginning of his battle, we knew his chances of survival were limited, but that never stopped the team from stepping up to provide him every care and comfort, and exhausting all treatment options. If you’ve been following his journey, you know the effort has been intense, guided by collaboration between our giraffe experts and animal professionals from all over the country.

The baby giraffe’s death is impacting the zoo team, as well as Julius’ many fans – the zoo wrote:

This type of decision is one of the hardest parts of a Zoo team member’s job and a blanket of grief lays over the entire Zoo family as you read this. The support of #TeamJulius on this journey has been a true inspiration and we are comforted knowing Julius’ memory will live on with you.

Read more about Julius and the zoo staff’s efforts to keep him alive, here.

Rest in peace little one.

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