Diet & Health

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

The Council for Agricultural
Science and Technology reported March 21
that advances in farming methods and the
growing popularity of vegetarianism could
mean a 30% decrease in the amount of land
used for food crops during the next 50 years
even as the global human population doubles.
The 64-page CAST study, commissioned by
the Program for the Human Environment at
Rockefeller University, was authored by
Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station
agronomist Paul Waggoner, who explained
that the calories and protein produced on pre-
sent cropland are already sufficient to feed 10
billion vegetarians, rather than the five to six
billion people who now eat a diet including
varying amounts of meat.

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AGRICULTURE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

The General Agreement on Trade
and Tariffs will increase the amount of pork
the U.S. can export to Europe to 624,000 met-
ric tons by 1999, six times the 1991 volume.
Drawn by relatively weak U.S. pollution
laws, European hog producers are rushing to
set up U.S. branches, including the Pig
Improvement Co., of Great Britain, the
world’s largest hog breeder, which hopes to
raise 100,000 hogs per year at a site near
Hennessy, Oklahoma. The facility will gen-
erate as much sewage as a town of 170,000
people. A Danish firm is reportedly planning
an even bigger operation: a 600,000-hog con-
finement farm to be sited in Alaska, where
there are virtually no laws pertaining to farm-
related pollution because farming ventures
there have historically failed.

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Ocean species

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

The National Resources Defense
Council sued the U.S. Navy on April 17 in
Los Angeles, seeking to block 270 sched-
uled underwater explosives tests near the
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary,
slated to start April 24 and go on for five
years. The suit claims the permits issued to
the Navy by the National Marine Fisheries
Service violate the Marine Mammal
Protection Act, the National Environmental
Policy Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act. Co-plaintiffs include Save The Whales,
the Humane Society of the U.S., American
Oceans Campaign, and Heal the Bay.

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ZOO NOTES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Willie B., a silverback gorilla
kept in isolation at the Atlanta Zoo from his
capture in the wild in 1962 until 1988,
became a father on February 9, at the age of
35. The mother of the newborn is Choomba,
age 30, making the couple the oldest to breed
successfully in captivity. The zoo built bigger
gorilla quarters in 1988 to house a 17-member
colony borrowed from the Yerkes Primate
Research Center, also in Atlanta. Hoping to
add Willie B.’s genes to the limited captive
breeding pool, the zoo initially paired him
with much younger females, in the belief they
would heighten his sexual appetite, but he
failed to impregnate any of them, and was
suspected of sterility. He and Choomba were
paired only after they signaled their interest in
each other from separate cages for months.

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Behavioral enrichment

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Preventing captive animals from
suffering terminal boredom has been a prima-
ry concern of zookeepers since ancient times.
Excessively bored animals not only become
listless and uninteresting to crowds, but also
develop self-destructive behavior. For cen-
turies––after tossing prisoners to ferocious
beasts fell out of vogue––the antidote was
obliging animals to earn their food by per-
forming.

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Behavioral enrichment

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Preventing captive animals from suffering terminal boredom has been a primary concern of zookeepers since ancient times. Excessively bored animals not only become listless and uninteresting to crowds, but also develop self-destructive behavior. For centuries–after tossing prisoners to ferocious beasts fell out of vogue–the antidote was obliging animals to earn their food by performing.

That approach too has fallen from favor, as zoos have moved toward naturalistic exhibits in an emphasis upon showing animals acting as they would in the wild. But even the best naturalistic settings are too small to offer intelligent species much variety in stimulus. Thus behavioral enrichment programs are again borrowing from the past. Since 1991, Los Angeles zoo volunteers have been making animals earn their meals again: primates must find whole fruit and oatmeal hidden beneath hay and in nooks and crannies of their quarters, polar bears must extricate fish from floating blocks of ice, and hippos forage for greenery dumped into their wading pond, instead of being piled at the side. At the Toledo Zoo meanwhile, head veterinarian Timothy Reichard notes improved health and behavior in animals who have been taught to do various tricks to facilitate frequent physical examinations. The training program, now two years old, seems to stimulate the animals’ interest in their surroundings. Reichard’s staff began by training great apes, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas; went to monkeys when that succeeded; and have since progressed to training
elephants, bears, sea lions, red pandas, a zebra, and a giraffe. About 40 other zoos have requested details of the Toledo Zoo techniques.

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle plans to open a $7.7 million “Northern Trail” exhibit this fall that will combine the naturalistic and behavioral enrichment approaches. The plans call for mountain goats to lick water from rocks moistened by hidden pipes, while bears are to fish live salmon from an artificial stream and harvest salmonberries from bushes cultivated in their cages. The latter idea may prove problematic; attempts at including actual fruit-and-flower-producing shrubbery in naturalistic exhibits elsewhere have historically failed because zoo animals tend to destroy the plants out of boredom.

Zoo Euthanasia: The Steve Graham legacy; DETROIT ZOO DIRECTOR SAW SURPLUS CRUNCH COMING

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

DETROIT, Michigan––No one ever more
directly addressed the question of what to do with surplus
zoo animals than former Detroit Zoo executive director
Steve Graham––and no one has ever been more villified for
it. The target of frequent exposes, letter campaigns led by
the Fund for Animals, almost continuous picketing by as
many as 150 people at a time throughout his nine-year
tenure, and several staff revolts, Graham finally quit in
February 1991 following a head-on clash with the Detroit
City Council, whose auditor, Roger Short, warned him on
July 2, 1990, that euthanizing costly animals without
council permission amounted to unauthorized destruction of
city property. Graham performed several controversial
euthanasias anyway, and in August 1990 poured gasoline
on his own figurative funeral pyre by calling his mostly
Afro-American staff “monkeys”––in a city whose popula-
tion is 76% Afro-American, whose Afro-American mayor,
Coleman Young, had been his most visible defender.
Graham was no diplomat, although in his first
few years in Detroit he tried, authoring numerous long and
essentially friendly letters to his most ardent critics, trying
to explain his many controversial actions. Some never for-
gave Graham for taking plastic toys away from the primates
and elephants during exhibition hours, because he wanted
the public to see animals acting as they would in the wild.
(The toys were returned at night.)
Others blistered Graham for trying to increase the
zoo animals’ freedom of movement during the winter by
leaving them outdoors with the onset of cold weather, to
grow longer fur and become accustomed to the changing
conditions. The weather changed faster than some tropical
species could adapt. Frozen capybaras were found every
winter from 1986 through 1988. Other animals purportedly
killed or injured by cold weather included kangaroos,
swans, and pelicans. “We have found animals dead in a
frozen condition on mornings after a cold night,” Graham
admitted, “but an animal who dies on a cold night from
whatever cause will freeze by morning. When such ani-
mals are necropsied, we find that some other problem
caused the death…Other members of their groups did not
‘freeze to death’, so that should be an indication that there
was something physiologically wrong with those who did
die.” Eventually Graham cut the winter-related death toll
to near zero by changing breeding schedules so that tropical
animals didn’t give birth during the winter months.
The April 1990 drowning of a chimpanzee in a
protective moat brought more outrage. Graham had used
the last 10 of a once large herd of wild but common African
sheep called aoudads in a terminal nutrition study, fed the
remains to the zoo’s carnivores, and added their climbing
rock to a new naturalistic chimp area. He kept the moat,
over objections from the International Primate Protection
League, because of concern for liability if a chimp ever
escaped. The use of the aoudads brought up another com-
plaint. Graham had introduced a farm exhibit. After each
zoo season, cows and pigs were slaughtered to feed carniv-
orous animals. Zoogoers objected to the slaughter of ani-
mals who had been given names and been petted all sum-
mer by children. Graham responded with an edict that no
animal at the zoo should be named, to discourage emotion-
al identification with animals by either public or staff.
Introduced culling by euthanasia
Graham caught the most flak, however, for
insisting that surplus animals should be humanely eutha-
nized if they could not be sent to other zoos accredited by
the American Association of Zoological Parks and
Aquariums. From day one, he bucked prevailing practice
by refusing to sell animals to dealers, roadside zoos, and
canned hunts, which he called “shooting galleries––out of
the question for reputable zoos.” In 1982 Graham sold 30
crab-eating macaques to biomedical researchers at
Washington University in St. Louis, and he advertised five
Japanese macaques in a research newsletter in 1987, but he
eventually became critical of the use of zoo animals in labo-
ratories, as well. “Even if an animal is placed in a behav-
ioral, non-invasive research study,” Graham wrote in
1991, “most research projects are measured in months or at
most a few years. What then happens to an animal such as
a primate, who can live up to 50 years?” And sanctuaries,
Graham barked, are just no-kill shelters for wildlife, point-
lessly keeping geriatric beasts far beyond their natural lifes-
pans in crowded conditions more unnatural than those of
zoos.
Revamping the Detroit Zoo surplus animal policy
topped Graham’s job description when he was hired in
1982. His predecessor, Gunther Voss, quit after being
accused of taking kickbacks from animal dealers who
allegedly used the zoo as a wildlife warehouse. Graham
brought to Detroit a background uniquely combining zoo
experience with humane work. He had previously man-
aged two other zoos––and been president of the Antietam
Humane Society, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.
“We had a contract with a veterinarian to eutha-
nize,” Graham told Ann Sweeney of the Detroit News. “I
went over there one day and found a 10-year-old kid killing
the puppies and kittens. I fired the vet, and for three
months, I did it myself, humanely.”
Graham learned to euthanize mothers with new-
born litters by lethally injecting the mother first, then
injecting each of the babies as they still clung comfortably
to their mother’s warm body. As a humane society direc-
tor, Graham was an outspoken advocate of the needle
instead of the gas chambers and decompression chambers
that were then the norm for euthanasia. Nearly 20 years
later, the crusty Graham still came close to tears when
recounting his euthanasia experience. But he came away
from it believing humane euthanasia could be a viable and
essential option for reducing zoo surplus.
Graham’s first public act at the Detroit Zoo was to
euthanize three popular but aging Siberian tigers whose
genetic history was too uncertain to permit their use as
breeding stock. A zoo patron unsuccessfully sued him over
that action. When Graham euthanized two healthy Siberian
tigers in 1988 and 1989, also because they were unsuitable
for breeding, the USDA reviewed the Detroit Zoo’s permit
to keep endangered species. Meanwhile, Graham thinned
the aoudad collection, numbering 76 when he arrived,
who so densely populated their quarters that newborns
were repeatedly trampled to death. He euthanized other
animals as well: 282 in all during his tenure, 29% of all
the animals who were removed from the collection for any
reason. Among the euthanized animals, 165 were com-
mon hooved stock, whom most zoos quietly cull each win-
ter to feed carnivores. Most of the rest were put down due
to old age and/or poor health, but after the first tiger
euthanasias, Graham was tagged needle-happy.
Cut zoo death rate in half
Hardly anyone ever noticed that in the nine years
Graham ran the Detroit Zoo, only 2,032 animals died of
any cause, compared with 4,038 deaths during the preced-
ing decade––even as the zoo population rose from 1,432
animals at Graham’s arrival to 2,700 at his departure. He
cut annual mammal mortality from 34% to 14%, cut bird
mortality from 15% to 3%, and cut reptile and amphibian
mortality from 40% to 1%. The difference came largely
because Graham culled the oldest animals, keeping as
young and vigorous a collection as possible.
This in turn led to the accusation, voiced by
Doris Dixon of the Fund, that, “Graham wants mommy,
daddy, baby for his exhibits,” and therefore bred animals
needlessly. Instead of denying it, Graham rambled to
reporters about the “considerable educational experience”
for zoogoers in seeing “the mother-infant bond.” He rarely
sterilized Detroit Zoo animals, instead relying upon sexual
segregation for birth control, because he wanted the collec-
tion to be a repository of genetic diversity.
As far back as 1976, Graham warned fellow
zookeepers that, “Surplus animals are the greatest problem
facing zoos today.” While Margaret Shivener of Defenders
of Animal Rights charged Graham with “irresponsible over-
breeding,” Graham and Robert Wagner, then executive
director of the New York Zoological Society, pushed
AAZPA to adopt policies to discourage breeding except to
preserve endangered species, provide collection replace-
ments, and feed carnivores their natural diets.
In 1987 Graham and Wagner were instrumental in
getting AAZPA to adopt a code of ethics pertaining to the
disposition of surplus animals that is now the primary
instrument of gradually cutting off the supply of zoo-born
wildlife to roadside zoos, canned hunts, and auctions.
Graham was villified for that, as well, losing several close
elections when he ran for AAZPA office and incurring pub-
lic opposition from the San Diego Zoological Society and
former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna, whose popular
anti-euthanasia policies were achieved by releasing animals
to facilities Graham considered substandard.
“It hurts all of us when he talks about euthanizing
animals,” Hanna complained. “He’s saying euthanasia is
the way to go. How can he say that when we are bending
over backward in most zoos to explain to people that we
want their public money to preserve endangered species?”
It was a familiar argument to Graham, who had
already dealt with the unhappy paradox of euthanasia when
obliged to kill dogs and cats at the Antietam Humane
Society. Graham never liked euthanasia. He just liked the
alternatives less.

Zoo Euthanasia: The Steve Graham legacy

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Zoo Euthanasia: The Steve Graham legacy
Detroit Zoo director saw surplus crunch coming

DETROIT, Michigan–No one ever more directly addressed the question of what to do with surplus zoo animals than former Detroit Zoo executive director Steve Graham–and no one has ever been more vilified for it. The target of frequent exposes, letter campaigns led by the Fund for Animals, almost continuous picketing by as many as 150 people at a time throughout his nine-year tenure, and several staff revolts, Graham finally quit in February 1991 following a head-on clash with the Detroit City Council, whose auditor, Roger Short, warned him on July 2, 1990, that euthanizing costly animals without council permission amounted to unauthorized destruction of city property. Graham performed several controversial euthanasias anyway, and in August 1990 poured gasoline on his own figurative funeral pyre by calling his mostly Afro-American staff “monkeys”–in a city whose population is 76% Afro-American, whose Afro-American mayor, Coleman Young, had been his most visible defender.

Graham was no diplomat, although in his first few years in Detroit he tried, authoring numerous long and essentially friendly letters to his most ardent critics, trying to explain his many controversial actions. Some never forgave Graham for taking plastic toys away from the primates and elephants during exhibition hours, because he wanted the public to see animals acting as they would in the wild. (The toys were returned at night.)

Others blistered Graham for trying to increase the zoo animals’ freedom of movement during the winter by leaving them outdoors with the onset of cold weather, to grow longer fur and become accustomed to the changing conditions. The weather changed faster than some tropical species could adapt. Frozen capybaras were found every winter from 1986 through 1988. Other animals purportedly killed or injured by cold weather included kangaroos, swans, and pelicans. “We have found animals dead in a frozen condition on mornings after a cold night,” Graham admitted, “but an animal who dies on a cold night from whatever cause will freeze by morning. When such animals are necropsied, we find that some other problem caused the death…Other members of their groups did not ‘freeze to death’, so that should be an indication that there was something physiologically wrong with those who did die.” Eventually Graham cut the winter-related death toll to near zero by changing breeding schedules so that tropical animals didn’t give birth during the winter months.

The April 1990 drowning of a chimpanzee in a protective moat brought more outrage. Graham had used the last 10 of a once large herd of wild but common African sheep called aoudads in a terminal nutrition study, fed the remains to the zoo’s carnivores, and added their climbing rock to a new naturalistic chimp area. He kept the moat, over objections from the International Primate Protection League, because of concern for liability if a chimp ever escaped. The use of the aoudads brought up another complaint. Graham had introduced a farm exhibit. After each zoo season, cows and pigs were slaughtered to feed carnivorous animals. Zoogoers objected to the slaughter of animals who had been given names and been petted all summer by children. Graham responded with an edict that no animal at the zoo should be named, to discourage emotional identification with animals by either public or staff.

Introduced culling by euthanasia

Graham caught the most flak, however, for insisting that surplus animals should be humanely euthanized if they could not be sent to other zoos accredited by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. From day one, he bucked prevailing practice by refusing to sell animals to dealers, roadside zoos, and canned hunts, which he called “shooting galleries–out of the question for reputable zoos.” In 1982 Graham sold 30 crab-eating macaques to biomedical researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, and he advertised five Japanese macaques in a research newsletter in 1987, but he eventually became critical of the use of zoo animals in laboratories, as well. “Even if an animal is placed in a behavioral, non-invasive research study,” Graham wrote in 1991, “most research projects are measured in months or at most a few years. What then happens to an animal such as a primate, who
can live up to 50 years?” And sanctuaries, Graham barked, are just no-kill shelters for wildlife, pointlessly keeping geriatric beasts far beyond their natural lifespans in crowded conditions more unnatural than those of zoos.

Revamping the Detroit Zoo surplus animal policy topped Graham’s job description when he was hired in 1982. His predecessor, Gunther Voss, quit after being accused of taking kickbacks from animal dealers who allegedly used the zoo as a wildlife warehouse. Graham brought to Detroit a background uniquely combining zoo experience with humane work. He had previously managed two other zoos–and been president of the Antietam Humane Society, in  Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

“We had a contract with a veterinarian to euthanize,” Graham told Ann Sweeney of the Detroit News. “I went over there one day and found a 10-year-old kid killing the puppies and kittens. I fired the vet, and for three months, I did it myself, humanely.”

Graham learned to euthanize mothers with newborn litters by lethally injecting the mother first, then injecting each of the babies as they still clung comfortably to their mother’s warm body. As a humane society director, Graham was an outspoken advocate of the needle instead of the gas chambers and decompression chambers that were then the norm for euthanasia. Nearly 20 years later, the crusty Graham still came close to tears when recounting his euthanasia experience. But he came away from it believing humane euthanasia could be a viable and essential option for reducing zoo surplus.
Graham’s first public act at the Detroit Zoo was to euthanize three popular but aging Siberian tigers whose genetic history was too uncertain to permit their use as breeding stock. A zoo patron unsuccessfully sued him over that action. When Graham euthanized two healthy Siberian tigers in 1988 and 1989, also because they were unsuitable for breeding, the USDA reviewed the Detroit Zoo’s permit to keep endangered species. Meanwhile, Graham thinned the aoudad collection, numbering 76 when he arrived, who so densely populated their quarters that newborns were repeatedly trampled to death. He euthanized other animals as well: 282 in all during his tenure, 29% of all the animals who were removed from the collection for any reason. Among the euthanized animals, 165 were common hooved stock, whom most zoos quietly cull each winter to feed carnivores. Most of the rest were put down due to old age and/or poor health, but after the first tiger euthanasias, Graham was tagged needle-happy.

Cut zoo death rate in half

Hardly anyone ever noticed that in the nine years Graham ran the Detroit Zoo, only 2,032 animals died of any cause, compared with 4,038 deaths during the preceding decade–even as the zoo population rose from 1,432 animals at Graham’s arrival to 2,700 at his departure. He cut annual mammal mortality from 34% to 14%, cut bird mortality from 15% to 3%, and cut reptile and amphibian mortality from 40% to 1%. The difference came largely because Graham  culled the oldest animals, keeping as young and vigorous a collection as possible.

This in turn led to the accusation, voiced by Doris Dixon of the Fund, that, “Graham wants mommy, daddy, baby for his  exhibits,” and therefore bred animals needlessly. Instead of denying it, Graham rambled to reporters about the “considerable educational experience” for zoogoers in seeing “the mother-infant bond.” He rarely sterilized Detroit Zoo animals, instead relying upon sexual segregation for birth control, because he wanted the collection to be a repository of genetic diversity.

As far back as 1976, Graham warned fellow zookeepers that, “Surplus animals are the greatest problem facing zoos today.” While Margaret Shivener of Defenders of Animal Rights charged Graham with “irresponsible overbreeding,” Graham and Robert Wagner, then executive director of the New York Zoological Society, pushed AAZPA to adopt policies to discourage breeding except to preserve endangered species, provide collection replacements, and feed
carnivores their natural diets.

In 1987 Graham and Wagner were instrumental in getting AAZPA to adopt a code of ethics pertaining to the disposition of surplus animals that is now the primary instrument of gradually cutting off the supply of zoo-born wildlife to roadside zoos, canned hunts, and auctions. Graham was villified for that, as well, losing several close elections when he ran for AAZPA office and incurring public opposition from the San Diego Zoological Society and former Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna, whose popular anti-euthanasia policies were achieved by releasing animals to facilities Graham considered substandard.

“It hurts all of us when he talks about euthanizing animals,” Hanna complained. “He’s saying euthanasia is the way to go. How can he say that when we are bending over backward in most zoos to explain to people that we want their public money to preserve endangered species?”

It was a familiar argument to Graham, who had already dealt with the unhappy paradox of euthanasia when obliged to kill dogs and cats at the Antietam Humane Society. Graham never liked euthanasia. He just liked the alternatives less.

Native species, natural habitat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

WATERTOWN, New York––”The Thompson
Park Zoo was one of the worst in North America until
1990,” admits a fact sheet for visitors, “when it was
closed for renovations. Its old, smelly monkey and lion
cages were turned into a visitors’ center, the old stainless
steel aviary was turned into a walk-through wetland, and
drive-by deer yards have become large natural habitat
exhibits for species native to New York state.”
That’s a quick version of a spectacular turnaround
at a former concrete-and-bars facility built 80 years ago
with contributions raised by school children. The zoo was
considered state-of-the-art then, but over the years the art
changed, as the goal shifted from public amusement to the
protection and preservation of species. Initially a huge
money-maker for the city, the zoo gradually became a
loser––and the less it earned, the less there was to spend
on upkeep and improvements.

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