Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Craig Busch Visit

Some months ago DZP was approached by representatives of Craig Busch, formerly of Zion Wildlife Gardens in NZ, asking if he could visit us, along with several other UK zoos, as part of a fundraising tour to meet his extensive UK fan base. After careful consideration, we agreed.

We were aware that Mr. Busch is a controversial character, and the huge popularity of his Lion Man series has meant that the debate around him has been fuelled by the oxygen of intense publicity, which is rarely useful in establishing the actual facts.

Our own careful research revealed that no serious allegations made against him had yet been substantiated, and on the principle of innocent until proven guilty, we stood by our original decision.

However, we have since been advised by BIAZA, which is effectively our governing body, not to play a part Mr Busch’s tour, and so we have withdrawn our support.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Watch the Meerkats

We've recently install these great new web cameras so you can now drop in and see the meerkats 24hrs a day.

This is the main enclosure. We'll be moving the camera around from time to time so you get to see the whole show.

This is where you'll find Sue and Timon tucked up at night in their temperature controlled house.

They've been getting down to the business of starting a family recently so make sure you keep a close eye on developments.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

New male for 'Tabitha' the Tragopan

This week we had an exciting new addition to the collection, a male Temminck's Tragopan from Paignton Zoo. Sadly our last male, nicknamed 'Terence' by the keepers, passed away from old age about a fortnight ago. He was one of the friendliest birds in the collection and would come up to the keepers to take food before we were really ready! 'Terence' and our female (nicknamed 'Tabitha'), who has been at the zoo since 2007 successfully reared a female chick last year. This bird has since been rehomed but we are keen to continue breeding this species. The birds can live alone or in a pair but we fortunately found a companion for our female in no time at all.

Temminck's tragopan are found in forested habitat in Northeasten India, Southern and Central Asia and Central China. As you can see from the photograph, our new male has not yet got the majority of his colourful adult plumage, he will be fully mature at two years old. At this time we will be hoping to achieve breeding success once again.

Lone Flamingo Finds New Family

On Wednesday our lone Chilean flamingo was collected by Paignton Zoo to join a flock of 47 birds. Flamingos are social and live together in large colonies of a few dozen to tens of thousands. Originally one of a small group, this one male was left when, in recent years, the other birds passed away. He is around 30 years old which may sound like alot but, in captivity flamingos can live into their 40s, so he has plenty more years to look forward to in his new home.

Chilean flamingos have mainly white plumage with a faint pink tinge. To conserve body heat, they often stand on one leg and bring the other close to their body. They also tuck their head under a wing for this reason. Like other flamingos, they spend up to 30% of their time preening and feed on invertebrates which live in mud. They also eat some blue-green algae, insect larvae, small worms, and other organisms found in alkaline water. Most zoos feed a specially formulated flamingo pellet soaked in water. In the wild, Chilean flamingos are classified as vulnerable. They are at risk from illegal egg-collecting and habitat loss.

Our flamingo, having always lived in the walk-in enclosure is very used to people, especially keepers, being within a few feet of him. This meant that it was very easy to simply pick him up and carry him to a travel crate in Paignton Zoo's van. He put up no resistance; the event was stress free for animal and keepers!