BIAZA Newsletter | Winter 2017 | Issue 13

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The magazine for Britain and Ireland’s best zoos and aquariums


Winter 2017 • Issue 13

Protecting the pack • The pride of the Emerald Isle • Modern day vaccination • Olympic star opens new tiger house • Mixing monkeys • Working with your local Wildlife Trust • Wildflowers galore inside

office news from the Dear Members

Painted Dogs Cover Story Protecting the pack

Cover photo: Yorkshire

Wildlife Park

Our Vision - To be a powerful force in the care and conservation of the natural world Our Mission - BIAZA is a professional organisation which represents its members and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums. It leads and supports its members to: • inspire people to help conserve the natural world • participate in effective cooperative conservation programmes • deliver the highest quality environmental education, training and research • achieve the highest standards of animal care and welfare in zoos, aquariums and in the wild BIAZA is a member of :

I see the first CEO’s letter in the New Year as an opportunity to look ahead to the coming year and try to highlight how we will move forward. However, I am, like many others, still feeling a little bit mystified by the events of 2016 and how to respond to them. Certainly 2016 was a year of startling outcomes to events that may greatly shape our futures, some of which have left people feeling uncomfortable and uncertain.

Traditionally in times of uncertainty, many people tend to stick to what they know; we do not have the luxury of resting on our laurels. The ripples of the events of 2016 will certainly affect the workload in the BIAZA office, and will have knock-on effects for our committees and our members. But let us just take some time to remember a couple of key achievements. 2016 saw the creation of the world’s two biggest marine reserves. Papahanaumokuakea in Hawaii was announced as the world’s largest marine reserve in September but only held the title for a short time before the Antarctic Marine Reserve was announced in October. One of the key issues to remember with the Antarctic reserve is that this was brought about by cooperation between multiple stakeholders and governments. An example of how, in a year where there were major divisive events, achievements can still be made through cooperation. 2016 was also BIAZA’s 50th Anniversary year. We feel that we have celebrated our achievements and those of our members well. But now is the time to look forward to greater and better things. We are uncertain of what exactly will be the challenges in 2017, leading on from the events in 2016 but we do know that we need to be brave and adventurous and ensure that we have the ability to adapt to the possible changes ahead of us. To begin with the Association is looking to bring online a number of changes with regards to how we operate for the members (including the dreaded Annual Questionnaire) which we believe will put BIAZA in a strong position to support the membership. Finally, I would like to start 2017 by welcoming our newest members SeaLife Adventure (Full member), Ardmore Open Farm (Provisional member), Noah’s Ark (Provisional member) and AWCP Gibraltar (Provisional and our first British Overseas Territory member). A big welcome too to our new Corporate Associates Kay Elliot Architects, Medimark, and Riverside Garden Centre, Ruth Smith who has joined us as a Basic Associate, and our newest Educational Associate member SGS College.

European Association of Zoos and Aquaria EAZA

Global Information Serving

World Association of Zoos and Aquariums WAZA

International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN

Conservation Breeding Specialist

Conservation SPECIES 360

Group CBSG


Officers: Chair: Rebecca Willers, Shepreth Wildlife Park Vice-Chair: Sean McKeown, Fota Wildlife Park • Treasurer: Mike Bird Committee Chairs: Dave Naish, Bristol Zoo Gardens (Learning & Volunteering Committee) Scott Wilson, Chester Zoo (Field Programmes Committee) Jessica Harley, Tayto Park (Research Committee) Nic Dunn, Shaldon Wildlife Trust (Living Collections Committee) Bryan Carroll, Bristol Zoo Gardens (Membership & Licensing Committee) Members: Stewart Muir, SWEP Newquay Zoo • Douglas Richardson, RZSS Highland Wildlife Park • Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo • Feike Molenaar, BVA Representative • Sarah Forsyth, Colchester Zoo • Mark Challis, Belfast Zoo • Lynn Whitnall, Paradise Wildlife Park and Wildlife Heritage Foundation • Matthew Ford, Associate Representative • Gary Batters, ZSEA Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! • Claire Rugg, SWEP Living Coasts Katy Duke, The Deep • Charlotte MacDonald, Twycross Zoo


Kirsten Pullen CEO • Nicky Needham Programmes and Policy Manager Zoe Williamson Communications and Membership Manager Lucia Pettifer-Hansen Communications and Membership Officer Janice Chandler Financial Controller BIAZA NEWS is a quarterly publication for BIAZA. Submissions for BIAZA NEWS are welcome from all members of BIAZA, and should be sent, preferably by email, to

Dr Kirsten Pullen CEO

BIAZA is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales, Number 6789783. Registered Office Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY. Registered Charity number: 1128168


Published by Coast Agency

10 AYE-AYE! Avoid being kept in the dark when it comes to looking after nocturnal primates like the aye-aye and loris. 18 Into the lion’s den An architect’s dream job



Photo: David Haring,

Duke Lemur Center


Zoo News All the latest from the zoos Featured Member Galway’s Atlantaquaria



Committees and Working Groups Updates to keep you in the loop New Enclosures Two for tigers and how to build your own Home and Away Protecting the pack from Yorkshire to Africa



Photo: ZSL


Native Species Reintroducing the large heath butterfly Corporate Member Feature An enclosure design to roar about



Research Roundup Lumpy jaw in jumpy animals


Education Learning for all and a new education programme at Twycross

Photo: YWP

Photo: Jade House, ZSEA

16 Puppy dog tales The art of conserving painted dogs

24 Blooming marvelous Turning wasted space into precious habitat


Diary What’s on and when



BIAZA Certified Training An overview of the latest certified workshops

Get in touch with BIAZA News


Bird Working Group The 2016 conference at Chester Zoo

Editorial staff: Zoe Williamson and Nicky Needham Designer: Coast Agency


Robovacc Vaccination in the 21 st Century

For enquiries about editorial content or to contribute material:

Telephone: 020 7449 6599


Connecting with the Wildlife Trusts A network of partnerships across the UK



Conservation Connections BIAZA members linking with IUCN – part 2 Grab That Gap Who won in 2016 and how to get involved

Post: BIAZA, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY




Mixed Primate Exhibits How should you do yours?

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter @BIAZA


BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

Keeping you up to date with all the latest news

Creative community engagement at Brent Lodge Over the summer eight young people spent four weeks giving Brent Lodge a makeover with a difference, in the form of a mural. The creative artwork was part of Ealing Youth Justice Service (YJS) summer arts programme, and according to the assessor it was the most inspirational project they had been involved with. The mural is not the first time the West London animal centre has collaborated with Ealing’s YJS. Previous projects have involved enclosure builds and heavier manual work. “We were keen to undertake more creative projects after a number of pieces by the street artist ATM around the zoo had attracted a lot of attention,” explains Jim Gregory, Brent Lodge’s Manager. “We were also keen for the young people to come up with a message about conservation that resonated with them and would influence visitors to the zoo.”

New education building at Beale Park

“ We were keen for young people to come up with a message about conservation” JimGregory Brent Lodge Manager

Photo: Beale Park Photo: Shaldon Wildlife Trust

Beale Park in Berkshire has opened a brand new education building and wildlife area, thanks to a pledge of £170,000 from Thames Water. Park staff, along with external companies, volunteer groups, sponsors and supporters have all worked hard over the last 16 months to bring the project to completion. The purpose-built education centre, pond dipping stations and wildlife boardwalk were officially opened in October 2016. Taking it SLOW at Shaldon The October half term saw one of BIAZA’s smallest members highlight to its visitors one of its ‘slowest’ residents, namely the slow loris. Shaldon Wildlife Trust regularly participates in the Little Fireface Project’s Slow Loris Outreach Week (SLOW) and this year was no exception, with the Devon-based zoo holding a number of activities to raise awareness and funds for this enigmatic and endangered primate.

Photo: Chessington Zoo

Photo: Brent Lodge

Photo: Brent Lodge 4

from our member zoos and aquariums

WAZA conservation award for Durrell Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has been presented with the first ever Conservation Award from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Lee Durrell, Honorary Director of the Trust, said: ‘I am overjoyed with the news that Durrell has won the WAZA Conservation Award and so proud that we are the first ever recipient. It validates the efforts begun by Gerald Durrell so long ago to prove that zoos could become agents of species survival, and his firm belief that all zoos should strive towards this goal. Now more and more zoos and aquariums tackle conservation issues proactively and engage their visiting public in what needs to be done and why. I hope the award heralds an era of even greater commitment to conservation by our community.”

Rob became involved and engaged with various zoo committees and activities over the years and was a key player in the International Zoo Educators association (IZE). Through his passion and dedication he has helped to inspire and encourage a generation of educators and zoo professionals. On his retirement at the start of 2004 Rob was awarded the MBE in recognition of his contribution to education. He was also author of the popular book ‘Penguin Parade’ and wrote many papers on zoo education. Nathalie Evans died on 9 September aged 98, and was one half of an enduring partnership that created Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. She and her lifetime business partner, Molly Badham, were pioneers in their field and instrumental in creating the modern zoo. Born on June 12, 1918, Nathalie discovered her love for animals breeding dachshunds and this experience led her to finance her next business venture, a pet shop in Sutton Coldfield. The rival pet shop in the town was run by Molly, and it was in the window of Nathalie’s shop in 1949 that Molly saw her first monkey. This encounter led to a unique partnership and their joint and enduring passion for primates led to the formation of Hints Zoological Gardens and their involvement in the famous Brooke Bond Tea TV ads. The long-running success of these adverts enabled them to realise their ambitions - to finance a programme of conservation projects and the creation of the gibbon and chimpanzee studbooks which guided the safe breeding of both species in captivity.

Photo: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Durrell’s CEO Leslie Dickie receives WAZA’s Conservation Award

A fond farewell In 2016 we sadly lost a couple of big names in the world of zoos and aquariums: Rob Ollason passed away on 10 October and is widely considered to be one of the great zoo educators of the 20th century. Born in the Shetland Islands, Rob graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1961 and after some years teaching art and design in Edinburgh and Shetland, he then spent five years in Kenya. At the end of 1976 he took up the post of Education Officer and then became Head of Education at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, a post he held until his retirement 27 years later.

Photo: Twycross Zoo

Nathalie Evans (left) with Molly Badham (right)


BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

Featured member

By Garry Kendellen Galway Atlantaquaria, Ireland’s largest native species aquarium, is situated alongside the picturesque Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland. Established in 1999, the aquarium continues to develop new attractions, along with educational, social, community and conservation opportunities. The aquarium complex is laid out over 3000m² and houses a number of retail activities, which attract large numbers of visitors annually. The aquarium itself covers 2000m², spans two levels and has a catchment area extending 85 kilometres in all directions. Designed to reflect the maritime history of Galway City and County, the aquarium hosts 70 exhibits which in turn house 100 species of native marine and freshwater animals. The design of the aquarium and exhibits allows the public to get close and interact with the wonderful sea life found around Ireland. Galway Atlantaquaria

Environment and conservation One of our aims is to highlight environmental issues that the oceans face at present. Our exhibits outline topics such as overfishing, ghost fishing, pollution, and invasive species. Our Conservation Area includes our recently developed interactive wave energy exhibit, which enables visitors to learn about renewable energy and its development around the Irish coast. Also in this area is The ‘Trash Gnash’ computer game, which was developed in collaboration with the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway. This game teaches visitors about marine litter and how ocean currents affect its distribution as it moves throughout the world.

large number of native species, including wreckfish and Valentine our rare white skate. Valentine was born in captivity at the aquarium on the eve of Valentine’s Day 2004 (hence her name!) and has since grown into one of our largest and favourite animals, with many visitors regularly returning to check on her progress. Our Irish natural history section includes the largest fin whale skeleton on public display in Ireland, reaching a length of over 18 metres. Other exhibits include ancient red deer antlers which have been carbon-dated at 1600 years old, and the Bearna Bog Boat, a dugout canoe dating back to 3,500 B.C. Both are on permanent loan from the National Museum of Ireland. One of our most striking cultural exhibits is the Gleoiteog, a traditional Irish gaff-rigged sailing vessel, mainly used inshore for carrying cargo. This Gleoiteog was rebuilt through a local Council grant and includes authentic rigging and paintwork. Education and research Dr Noirin Burke oversees education and research at the aquarium. She works with all our staff to deliver both formal and informal education to our visitors and through outreach. She serves on a number of panels and boards including the BIAZA Learning and Volunteering Committee. Galway Atlantaquaria runs various programmes in conjunction with local and national organisations centred on the primary and secondary school curriculum. The aquarium enjoys strong links with Science Foundation Ireland, the Marine Institute, Clean Coasts, NUI Galway and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and other BIAZA collections in Ireland. The aquarium also runs the Galway Field Studies Centre which aims to connect students with the natural world, using habitats found throughout Galway City. Its goal is to develop skills and knowledge to enable students to carry out meaningful ecology fieldwork activities. The research topics covered in 2016 included flood defences, skate growths and fish feeding patterns.

Notable exhibits include: The DSV Submarine is designed to give visitors a sense of the exploration of the deep sea. The surrounding exhibit tells the story of an Irishman from County Clare, John Philip Holland (1841-1914) who famously designed the modern submarine. The ocean tank is home to a


Heritage and community Galway Atlantaquaria has developed many close

relationships with community groups including the Civic Trust, Seal Rescue Ireland, Sea Search, IWDG, Seal Sanctuary, Clean Coasts and many others. In 2016 we participated in free talks, beach safaris and beach cleans, helping to promote local heritage, social engagement and civic responsibility. We hosted community education events, including Sea Search Ireland observers course, and seal stranding training with Seal Rescue Ireland. We were delighted to show the first screening in the west of Ireland of the documentary ‘River Runner: The River Lee and Wild Atlantic Salmon’ documentary and host INFOMAR talks at our World Oceans Day event. Galway Atlantaquaria has also piloted a new ‘Seabirds of Galway’ birdwatching exhibit and event which was carried out in collaboration with Bird Watch Ireland. Highlights of the year This year Galway Atlantaquaria welcomed a new visitor to the Aquarium. In January, following a call from Seal Rescue Ireland, we took over the care of Eva the loggerhead turtle. She had been washed ashore during one of the many winter storms to hit the Irish coast. Eva was in a state of cold shock and in serious danger of death. Initial inspection upon arrival showed she was underweight, lethargic and suffering from infections with carapace and skin damage. Galway Atlantaquaria staff with the assistance of Dr Rita Gately developed a programme of rehabilitation for the turtle. This programme included intensive care for the first few weeks, with a slow and steady temperature increase to warm the turtle back to normal, along with the administering of required medication and the introduction of food. The aquarium staff showed a great determination to save Eva, with care taking place during the night if required (special thanks to Joanne Casserly and Ian O’Grady). With the turtle out of immediate danger and responding well to the care, a programme of continued treatment and regular

health assessment could begin and finally the sourcing of suitable release options. Following months of hard work, Eva was successfully released back to the ocean in September, with the assistance of The Irish Defence Forces, and the crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett. This story gained huge public interest and was picked up by local and national news networks and the full story can be viewed on our YouTube channel. This is the second successful turtle rehabilitation the aquarium has achieved in recent years and is something we expect to be involved with again in the future. Special thanks to Seal Rescue Ireland for their initial care, Dr Rita Gately for her continued support and the This year Galway Atlantaquaria developed a children’s play zone for Love Your Zoo week during which we ran a number of interactive art and crafts workshops. Our focus was turtles and cephalopods and proved to be very popular. As a result we will develop this fun initiative further in the future. Galway Atlantaquaria has a number of exciting projects and exhibitions planned for 2017 and we would like to welcome you all to our collection should you visit Galway. In the meantime if you would like to find out more you can visit our crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett. BIAZA Love Your Zoo week

website or follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

7 BIAZA News • Winter issue 13


Learning & Volunteering Committee (LVC)

materials that we know will work for members. The guidelines and the list of our champions can be found on the BIAZA website on the VMWG page. Living Collections Committee (LCC) The Committee has been busy refreshing the BIAZA training certification scheme and updating the certification documents with additional guidance for event organisers. If you are interested in running a training event and applying for BIAZA certification then download the proposal form and guidance notes from the Events page on the BIAZA website, or contact the office for more information ( By Collette Gibbings, ZSL London Zoo A great example of a new training event was the first UK jellyfish conference, held in August 2016 at ZSL London Zoo. Together with James Robson (Senior Curator of SEA LIFE London Aquarium) I organised this event, aiming to bring together jellyfish enthusiasts from around the UK. The first day of the conference consisted of talks by aquarists discussing their own experiences, providing insight into their work with jellyfish, including institutional husbandry techniques and rarely kept species. This was followed by a tour of the jellyfish facilities within the BUGS department at ZSL to discuss set-ups and husbandry. The second day consisted of an open session, in which we chose major topics we all wanted to cover and then split them into hour-long sessions. Topics such as methods for strobilation of jellyfish polyps, husbandry of specific species, kreisel designs, and jellyfish husbandry techniques were all covered. Excitingly, the conference also saw the creation of the Jellyfish Working Group (JWG), coordinated by The Deep’s Tom Rowe, Sarah Fletcher from Birmingham SEA LIFE, and myself, working under the AqWG. The goal of the group is to provide husbandry guidelines for a range of jellyfish species kept in the UK and act as a coordinating group for the exchange of information, animals and husbandry expertise. The JWG will be looking for people to run projects on various subjects, so Photo: Claire Ingram, ZSEA Aquarium Working Group (AqWG)

Volunteer Managers’ Working Group (VMWG)

By Claire Ingram, ZSEA and Chair VMWG Previously known as the Volunteer Coordinators Forum we have been renamed to better reflect our status as a working group under the LVC. In October the VMWG had a great two-day annual conference at Bristol Zoo. Sessions this year focused on building personal resilience, having difficult conversations, and safeguarding. This hugely productive meeting had two major outcomes. Firstly, we have decided to appoint regional volunteer champions: experienced volunteer managers able to offer support and advice to collections in their region. They will also be looking to integrate volunteer managers into the regional education meetings whether in shared or parallel sessions. Secondly, I presented the first complete draft of the BIAZA Volunteer Management Best Practice Guidelines. This collaborative document is intended as an introduction to the basics of volunteer management, including how to avoid potential risks associated with poorly run volunteer programmes. Volunteers contribute hugely to the success of many BIAZA collections so it is vital that they are taken care of in a professional and progressive manner. Whilst not exhaustive, volunteer management can become complicated and this comprehensive guide will be a living document to assist in leading members to successfully work with their volunteers. It will also be supported by example documentation from member collections, helping to create a comprehensive resource of

Photo: Collete Gibbings ZSL



Field Programmes Committee (FPC) The FPC has had some changes in membership and welcomed on board Phil Riordan (Marwell Wildlife) and Andrew Terry (Durrell). Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change Group The Palm Oil Working Group has updated the 2014 BIAZA Palm Oil Statement, reflecting the fact that BIAZA now encourages its members to move away from unsustainable palm oil use by using certified sustainable palm oil, rather than by boycotting palm oil altogether. This approach provides incentive for companies to produce sustainable palm oil and allows us to work better with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to encourage them to use more progressive criteria for best practice and to increase the amount of plantations certified. The full statement is available on the BIAZA website on the palm oil pages. Research Committee (RC) After many years of dedication and leadership Amy Plowman stepped down in December as RC Chair, to be replaced by Jessica Harley (Tayto Park). Paul Rose (Sparsholt) and Sue Dow (Bristol Zoo) will be teaming up as Co-Chairs. We would like to thank Amy for all her work and support over the years. Communications & Development Committee (CDC) CDC has also seen a number of changes with the resignation of Becky Churcher (Marwell Wildlife) and Alex Smale (Tribemix), both of whom have been valuable members and we thank them for their dedication to the group over the years. The Committee has also seen Rebecca Blanchard (ZSL) step down as Chair and we would like to thank her for competently steering the Committee over the past 18 months. Rebecca will stay on as a committee member and we are currently seeking a new Chair (announcement to follow). Finally, CDC welcomes new members Olly Davies (RZSS), Michael Kitching (ZSEA) and Paul Simmons (Marwell).

if anyone is interested in getting involved please contact us on We will also be running a larger jellyfish conference next year at The Deep with details available through the BIAZA website nearer the time.

Animal Training Focus Group (ATFG)

By Jim Mackie, ZSL and Chair ATFG BIAZA’s Animal Training Focus Group was formed in 2015 to provide BIAZA members with the latest information about advances in the use of humane behaviour modification using operant learning methodology. It also aimed to provide zoo keepers with the tools to achieve best practice in the field by developing a national education programme, creating a social network for sharing training ideas, providing a forum for answering questions, and by producing best practice guidelines. So far the ATFG has supported training based workshops on ungulates, callitrichids, reptiles and amphibians, seals and sea lions, big cats, and nocturnal primates, and has been represented at numerous conferences. A significant development in our mission to boost credibility and professionalism in the use of animal training in our community is our membership of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) as Advisory Members. The ABTC has an accreditation process which aims to create standards within the training community. Plans are under way to move into the Practitioner Member category with an assessment process for zoo keepers and aquarists who complete a new, structured career path, in line with ABTC standards. This will enable keepers to become registered trainers and coaches. The process will involve presenting a portfolio of experience, skills and education to the ATFG for assessment. The ultimate aim is to have a registered training practitioner working in every BIAZA institution. The LCC has recently voted to upgrade the status of BIAZA’s ATFG from a focus group, normally a short-term group established for a short-term function, to a full working group. 2017 will see our first annual conference which will provide an opportunity to announce the beneficiaries of our small grant award for advancing behaviour management in a BIAZA collection. Conference dates and more information on the grant will be made available soon on the BIAZA website.

9 BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

Certified Training This year has seen BIAZA’s certified training scheme go from strength to strength, with nearly 50 events offered since its creation in 2015.

Photo: Michelle Pywell - Welsh Mountain Zoo

This scheme focuses on promoting high quality, practical training events and opportunities for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for BIAZA member staff. BIAZA’s expert committees are responsible for assessing the quality of proposed events, and supporting their evaluation and development. Events which are successful in their application are highlighted to our members using the BIAZA Certified Training logo and delegates who attend are provided with certificates of attendance. Here we profile two training events that have recently been awarded BIAZA certification. Nocturnal primate workshop By David Waite, ZSL London Zoo As the day drew to a close, I could not help but feel more inspired and motivated than ever! There were so many people in one room talking about a subject that is so niche in the zoo world; it was an absolute joy to see. Attracting almost 40 delegates from as far as New York and Bangkok (not to mention various zoos across Europe), the workshop consisted of talks ranging from nutrition and lighting in nocturnal houses, to animal training and enclosure design for prosimians generally. Other presentations were more species-specific with talks on aye-ayes, slender loris, bushbabies and tarsiers.

With evidence gained from research in the wild, we learned how diets vary between different species of lorises such as the grey slender loris and the pygmy slow loris. Other key take-home messages included the importance of UVB for vitamin D synthesis in nocturnal primates and which types of lightbulb can best be used for both daytime and night time lighting. The delegates were taught how to plan and implement a training programme for a nocturnal primate species and with the use of basic equipment, they were shown how to utilise space within an enclosure to best effect to suit the needs of grey slender loris. Delegates were given a guided tour of ZSL’s ‘Nightlife’ and viewed a couple of the training programmes currently in progress. Demonstrations were also given of the Moholi bushbaby weigh and box training and the grey slender loris weigh training, both of which went very well indeed – I knew they would not let us down! At the end of the day the winners of the poster competition were announced, with Apenheul, Bristol and Chester Zoo taking home prizes. The proceeds from the day will go towards the Animal Training Focus Group’s (ATFG) behaviour management grant, which any BIAZA or EAZA collection can apply for. (If you are interested in applying for this grant then please email Chair of ATFG Jim Mackie, As a one-day event, we were unfortunately unable to include more species into the agenda, such as pottos and mouse lemurs. In fact, a few of the delegates were disappointed it was not held over two days. However, this gives us plenty of scope for future nocturnal primate workshops. The overall feedback for the day was very positive, with a whopping 100% of delegates stating in their forms that they would either likely or definitely recommend the workshop to a friend. It would not have been possible however, without the help of Kelly-Anne Kelleher, Jim Mackie, Luke Harding and Annette Gunn, and of course ZSL – thanks to all who were involved!


Photo: David Harling - Duke Lemur Center

Photo: ZSL


Photo: Misty Nicholson

BIAZA seal and sea lion workshop By Michelle Pywell, BIAZA Co-Chair Carnivore Focus Group 35 delegates, representing 18 different collections attended the seal and sea lion workshop held in September at the National Zoological Society of Wales. Registration was a loud affair as everyone was talking about their most favourite subject, namely the seals and sea lions they take care of, as well as catching up with people they had not seen in years. A brief introduction included the work that the Aquatic Mammals Working Group has done over the last few years which has focused on collating information about nutrition and the environment. Results were circulated on handouts and can be viewed on the BIAZA website (under Carnivore Focus Group). By asking each delegate to write down one thing that they wanted to take away from the day (which they proceeded to throw at me as paper aeroplanes!) we were able to identify priorities which included enrichment ideas, networking and making contacts. Kate Broad from Colchester Zoo kicked off proceedings by giving an excellent presentation on the sea lion pool at Colchester. I believe that their enclosure is what every collection should be aiming for. The pool is salt water, cleaned by ozone and UV (no chlorine) and is not painted. As a result the sea lions do not experience any eye problems and the exhibit looks very natural. Andrew Greenwood is a partner of IZVG and an internationally recognised expert in marine mammal care. Andrew gave an extremely informative and interesting talk on the health issues experienced by seals and sea lions, covering skin, eyes and teeth. This was extremely valuable as he presented photos of different problems demonstrating how to tell the difference between a bite/abscess, a fungal skin condition, or a cataract from an ulcer. He emphasised how important it is to explain what you see, rather than to tell the vet what you think it is, as this saves a lot of time. We then watched Becky Evans and Tom Wootton carry out a sea lion feeding and training session with our three female Californian sea lions. Afterwards I demonstrated how we train Caper, our male sea lion, for medical procedures such as lying down for x-rays and injections.

Presentations from both these events can be found on the BIAZA proceedings page of our website. If you are organising an event and are interested in obtaining BIAZA certification you can download the course proposal form and guidelines by logging in to the BIAZA events page. For more information contact the BIAZA office at: conservation@

Tim Savage and Alex Pinnell from ZSL Whipsnade gave a wonderful and honest presentation on how they weaned their Californian sea lion pup. ZSL Whipsnade had tried to encourage natural weaning using many methods and only resorted to weaning the pup when the dam rejected him. The day culminated with a BIAZA certified training workshop which was ably delivered by ZSL Whipsnade’s Matt O’Leary. It involved us splitting into teams and putting together training plans for different behaviours. Enrichment ideas were also discussed and shared. Ultimately, the workshop was a huge success - so many dedicated, outgoing and passionate people. It is thanks to them that it was such an amazing day. As part of our initial paper plane icebreaker a number of points were identified where more time and research are needed to help answer specific questions. But with such an amazing group of people willing to share their knowledge, time and experience we aim to look into these issues further, by gathering information and communicating through Facebook and email. Watch out for a two-day workshop in 2017.

Speakers left to right Matt O Leary, Michelle Pywell, Kate Broad, Tim Savage, Alex Pinnell

11 BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

BirdWorking Group October 2016

The 2016 annual meeting of the BIAZA Bird Working Group took place at Chester Zoo last October, attracting an audience of around 60 delegates. and reintroducing choughs into the Jersey coastline. Choughs that had been tagged were hence identifiable and could be monitored post-release to see how they were integrating in with the existing free-living birds. (BIAZA members can view the meeting presentations on the proceedings page of the BIAZA website.) Overall, this was a very interesting and very informative meeting. It is always good to catch up with colleagues at different collections, and to find out about new species or new aspects of husbandry that might be transferable to other zoos. The range of species housed at Chester Zoo made for a tour around that had species of interest to all involved, and again, there were plenty of opportunities to glean new information to be used on the birds at each delegate’s own zoo. Research on birds seems to be strong in BIAZA collections. There are many projects around that are adding science to the bird collections in BIAZA zoos right now such as a new collaborative project hosted by Blackpool Zoo on great white pelican behaviour. Other examples include a focus on courtship and breeding activity, and wildfowl welfare research at WWT Arundel, and at Newquay Zoo they are investigating activity patterns and enclosure usage. To get involved with research in the Bird Working Group please contact Paul Rose (, see the priority research topics on the research section of the BIAZA website or, if you are a bird keeper in a BIAZA zoo, ask to join the community on the BIAZA Bird Working Group Facebook group. The BIAZA Research Committee has a very active Facebook page that posts and shares relevant research updates, articles and news items with the wider zoo community on social media; like the page and share with your friends to get involved.

By Lewis Rowden, SWEP Paignton Zoo The focus of this meeting was training, and several presentations explained how husbandry training can be employed on a range of bird species from turacos to marabou storks, hornbills to wildfowl. It was good to see new faces present on this important aspect of husbandry, and work by Sparsholt College on their Malayan black hornbill and white-cheeked turacos provided an excellent example of how unsteady or flighty animals can have their welfare and quality of life improved through individually-planned training regimes. Collections new to training were also highlighted, with work on young white-faced whistling ducks at WWT Slimbridge and crate training of Bahama pintail at WWT Castle Espie also explained. Delegates were given a tour around the zoo’s main bird exhibits as well as a peek behind-the-scenes into the incubation and rearing facilities. Highlights included witnessing the courtship display from the zoo’s pair of great Indian hornbills and learning about their nest box requirements, seeing the feeding of the huge flock of grosbeak starlings in the indoor biome in the Islands exhibit, and watching the cassowary being fed outdoors. Behaviour and welfare of flightless birds was a key feature of the second day. Two presentations focused on reproduction of cassowary in captivity, in particular how behavioural observation and endocrine monitoring can work together to provide the best window for introduction of the male and female together. Paignton Zoo also presented on kiwi husbandry, giving particularly interesting insights into how to display a nocturnal bird in the best manner to engage with the public. The winning talk from best novice presenter was given by Durrell Wildlife for a presentation on rearing

Photos: Paul Rose


VACCINATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY Robovacc By Tony Cholerton, ZSL London Zoo

Here at ZSL London Zoo, we recently had young female tiger, Cinta, present us with a problem that I had the opportunity to deal with in a rather unique way. Cinta was born to Melati, a strong-minded tiger who took it upon herself to keep the cubs outside for long periods at a time. Whilst this was good in terms of acquainting her young to their outdoor surroundings, it had the down side of setting back our training programme somewhat. Other factors also limited the amount of time that we were able to spend with the tigers, such as the new Land of the Lions exhibit being built. Despite these challenges we were able to train all the tigers to come inside during the morning and all were comfortable going on to our training board. However, Cinta would only move on to the board after we had vacated the vicinity. This was a real problem because her annual vaccination was due and we were running out of ideas. We looked at the options that were available to us. Firstly, darting Cinta, which arguably was the easiest option but the downside of this would be that it would have a negative impact on the training of the rest of the tigers. Whilst hand injection could have been an option had Cinta’s training been advanced enough, we knew she was not ready for this. Finally, remote vaccination was considered; it would be difficult but it would ultimately solve our problem. Cinta’s position on the board was good enough for me to believe there was potential for vaccinating her remotely. In the past, I used to make model aeroplanes and for a few years I was a motorbike mechanic so I have some useful skills

and still had technology that I could use at home. This knowledge coupled with materials I already had ultimately led to the development of Robovacc. How does it work? By using a wireless video camera I was able to send live footage to a tablet which allowed me to monitor Cinta and operate Robovacc remotely using a radio control system. This meant that all I had to do was work on getting Cinta into exactly the right position so I could vaccinate her from outside the building. Whilst the whole thing sounded relatively straight forward I understandably had to get permission to do this work from my team leader at ZSL, the curator and our zoo vets. I therefore needed to convince them that I could build Robovacc to a high standard. Over the years, I have built up a good reputation for solving some difficult problems so I was able to talk them into letting me try. It began with the development of working prototypes - the first was made of wood and bits and pieces but demonstrated that my idea was feasible. The second was good enough to demonstrate to the vets and they gave their approval to go ahead with the project. Finally, Robovacc 3 worked well and we were able to vaccinate Cinta without having to tranquilise her first. Following the success of Robovacc I am now working on Autovacc, an updated version which should allow us to vaccinate animals outside in their enclosures. I am hoping to test Autovacc next on our Asiatic lions and if successful it will pave the way for remotely vaccinating animals in the wild.

Photos: Tony Cholerton and Kate Sanders

Photos: Tony Cholerton and Kate Sanders

13 BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

Photos: The Deep

Designing, building and theming an exhibit for the Lake Zacapu garter snake By Phill Robinson - Aquarist, The Deep

resemble bark or soil before being sprayed down with water and covered with plastic sheeting to maintain humidity during the curing process. Once cured it was time to colour the cement with acid stains, a difficult step due to the colours of the tree and the soil being so similar. The acid was then neutralised using a solution of bicarbonate and once dried it was painted with epoxy. With the theming finished, the 18mm thick double- glazed glass was put in place and all of the plumbing was run to and from the sump. Finally the lid was added - constructed from plastic-welded polypropylene with a mesh screen. ADA Malaya Aqua Soil was chosen for the substrate which gives the appearance of a lentic, silty looking substrate as well as being beneficial for the plants. At one end I have added Equisetus hyemale and Mentha aquatica just to provide a bit of variation to the overall colour and accentuate the theme of being a bankside. Once the lighting was in place, chosen specifically to suit the fauna and flora with the enclosure, it was time for the snakes to take centre stage.

In October 2015 a space became available for a new exhibit within our Deep Blue 1 Zone. This area features freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates from around the world, with a focus on highlighting some of the major threats leading to species decline. After careful consideration the Lake Zacapu garter snake ( Thamnophis eques insperatus ) was selected; and four months after their arrival we were thrilled to be greeted by seven neonates. Their arrival meant The Deep was the first in the UK to display this species. Lake Zacapu garter snake Until 2003 there were thought to be only three subspecies of garter snake but further analysis revealed there were in fact seven different subspecies. The rarity of some of these subspecies, particularly the Lake Zacapu garter snake, strengthened the evidence to support their display. The exhibit itself highlights the importance of taxonomy and how subspecies within an isolated community may be potentially lost before they are even discovered. Designing, building and theming The exhibit was to be a split-level system, themed around an eroded bankside of a lake. With this in mind and with limited space in which to work, I opted for an open-topped build with a marine ply shell, covered in fibreglass and wax-based epoxy (for waterproofing), and a glass front. Armed with images of banksides I managed to settle on a rough idea of the design I wanted to achieve. The main bulk of the theming was carved out of high-density polystyrene to the shape of an eroded embankment which surrounded a tree trunk and its exposed roots. After the carving stage was finished the surfaces were heat-sealed to solidify the polystyrene and prevent it from crumbling. Before adding the cement, I painted over the polystyrene with SBR (Styrene-butadiene rubber, a type of synthetic rubber) to ensure that the surface was more likely to adhere to the cement mix. With a clay-like consistency, I layered the cement on to

Photos: The Deep

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New enclosures round-up

Photo: WHF Photo: RZSS

Tiger Tracks opens at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo Tiger Tracks is the new and improved home for RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s pair of Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers; the development is a key part of the RZSS’s Big Cat Strategy, launched back in 2014. Team GB diver and Edinburgh resident, Grace Reid gave tigers Jambi and Baginda an Olympian welcome to their new home when she officially opened the exhibit to the public in September last year. The rising star of British diving became one of the first visitors to experience the immersive new viewing tunnel at the heart of the exhibit, where tigers can walk directly above visitors’ heads on a walkway. Barbara Smith, CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Jambi and Baginda’s new home delivers on welfare, breeding and visitor experience grounds. At three times the size of our previous Sumatran tiger enclosure, Tiger Tracks will provide a more enriching experience for our animals and greater engagement for our visitors.”

Retirement home for Nias The Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s tiger enclosure which adjoins their visitor centre has recently been given a complete overhaul. Old fencing has been replaced with new and a water feature has been added in the form of waterfall and a pond. The windows have also been updated to allow seamless viewing, and a heat pad has been installed on the top of the waterfall rocks to keep their male tiger Nias warm on chilly days. The WHF keeping team crate trained Nias ahead of the move to make it as calm and stress free as possible. The new enclosure was built for his retirement from the breeding programme; the male Sumatran has been a successful father having produced two offspring with his partner Puna.

Foster + Partners to restore iconic zoo aviary to glory Renowned architects Foster + Partners are set to give ZSL London Zoo’s historic Snowdon Aviary a bold new makeover – as the Zoo appoints the firm to revamp a pioneering model of British architecture. A grade II* listed building and one of London Zoo’s most famous structures, the Aviary celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and stands proud and visible from the nearby Regent’s Canal and Primrose Hill. The new exhibit is set to be transformed into a walk-through colobus monkey enclosure, which will give visitors a unique and up close experience of the stunning primates. ZSL’s Zoological Director, Professor David Field said: “We’re thrilled to have appointed Foster + Partners to work on the landmark Snowdon Aviary. It’s fitting that a structure with such a unique history should be given new life by a world-class firm with such a strong heritage. Our most ambitious project to date, the new Aviary will reflect our decades of animal expertise and delivering innovative visitor experiences.”

Photos: Daniel Sprawson - ZSL

15 BIAZA News • Winter issue 13

Photo: YWP

Painting a brighter future for the African wild dog? By Simon Marsh, Yorkshire Wildlife Park


turn bush meat snares into ornaments and jewellery. This gave us a real insight into the life of local people living in and around the National Park and how PDC operates. Since that initial trip we have continued developing other areas which are mutually beneficial. YWP now has a comprehensive ex situ research programme which will contribute to in situ conservation as well as improving welfare. A member of the PDC team, Dought Nkomo, visited us to experience husbandry practices and protocols, health and safety, construction, maintenance and education. Most recently in 2016, a member of our Carnivore Team, Rhianna Larner, made the trip to PDC to continue the work started in 2014. We are continuing with this project and still have funds left from the initial grant to allow for another trip and to develop the PDC Rehabilitation Centre and the WVI vaccine programme. We are aiming for a holistic approach to African wild dog conservation where ex situ and in situ knowledge is gathered and shared to benefit them in the wild and in our care. Research, husbandry, welfare, community outreach, education, sustainability and commercial activities are all part of running YWP and PDC and where these areas overlap we can assist each other. By developing relationships, we can work towards the goal of conserving the dogs in the wild and also keep a healthy insurance population in zoos. To complete the story so far, in December 2016 our first painted dog pups emerged from their den.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) opened its doors back in April 2009 with a mission to focus on conservation and welfare. One of the first species was the African wild dog, often called painted dogs, ( Lycaon pictus ) and our Park became active members of the African Wild Dog (AWD) EEP. From day one we were fundraising for in situ conservation projects and we chose to support Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) and Wildlife Vets International (WVI), both of whom are working towards conserving African wild dogs in Zimbabwe. In 2013 the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF) was granted its charitable status to help raise and channel more funds towards conservation and welfare projects around the world. With the YWPF established and YWP growing fast we felt confident we could develop and expand our conservation activities so we applied for and won the first BIAZA Conservation Grant. The project was to bring together ex situ conservation breeding and in situ conservation activities and draw on the experiences and knowledge to fill in any gaps. Having already supported PDC and WVI we thought this was an ideal opportunity to develop and build the relationship. PDC are based near Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and are at the forefront of community engagement and monitoring AWD in Zimbabwe. WVI work in conjunction with PDC and run a domestic dog vaccination programme to protect AWD from disease. As part of the IUCN One Plan Approach and the guidelines on the use of ex situ management for species conservation we wanted to bring the strengths of ex situ and in situ conservation together and create a direct link between the AWD in the wild and the animals in our care. In 2014 we made our first trip out to Zimbabwe and worked with the staff at the PDC Rehabilitation Centre. We helped develop safer working practices and training protocols for the staff. We worked on animal training for the AWD which could not be released back into the wild and improved husbandry techniques. The trip allowed us to monitor AWD packs in Hwange National Park and observe wild behaviours. We also experienced the community outreach work PDC carry out by visiting schools, clinics and arts and craft projects where they

So starts the next generation helping conserve their species in the wild.

Photo: YWP


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