From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:
World Society for the Protection of
Animals field officer Neil Trent flew to Tbilsi
in the former Soviet republic of Georgia on
November 26 in an emergency effort to save
starving animals in the city zoo––among them
two tigers, several lions, a polar bear, a leop-
ard, a wolf pack, and 25 birds of two species
(down in recent months from 1,000 birds of 40
species). The animals have reportedly received
only a third of their normal rations for months.
They were to be sent to the better-funded Baku
Zoo in Azerbaijan, but the deal was vetoed by
the Tbilsi mayor for reasons of regional pride,
according to anthropologist Mary Ellen
Chatwin, who called WSPA after other groups
declined to help. The Tbilsi Zoo used to draw
500,000-plus visitors a year, with a staff of
120. Attendance fell with the economy when
civil war broke out following the collapse of the
Soviet Union; some of the present staff of 60
are paid under 50ç a month. Worldwide, the
menageries of at least four major zoos have
starved in the last two years, all due to war.
The Milwaukee County Zoo and the
American Association of Zoological Parks and
Aquariums may fight an order from County
Executive Thomas Ament to surrender three
Asian elephants to the Performing Animal
Welfare Society, of Galt, California. PAWS is
not AAZPA-accredited, and the transfer would
contradict AAZPA policy. HSUS. investigator
Michael Winikoff, who has long accused
Milwaukee Zoo elephant handlers of abusing
the beasts, is now trying to raise $150,000 to
help PAWS build appropriate elephant quarters.
Some elephant experts doubt the wisdom of
keeping the group together, as the Milwaukee
Zoo claims physical discipline has been neces-
sary because two of them tend to fight. Ament
said he doesn’t think the elephants were abused,
but wants their quarters for other species.
Although Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt recently vetoed a proposed panda
rental by the San Diego Zoo, as not in the best
interest of the highly endangered species, the
San Francisco Chronicle reports that the San
Francisco Zoo still seeks to arrange a similar
deal. China is sending a pair of pandas to two
Taiwanese zoos for six months, starting in
The $10 million Freeport-
McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center
opened near New Orleans in mid-December.
Located on 250 acres of a 1,200-acre site donat-
ed by the Coast Guard, the center will also
include a $15 million federally financed captive
breeding facility for endangered species, a 130-
acre wilderness park, and 500 acres of man-
aged habitat for native species, when complet-
ed in early 1996.
Curtis Krebs, who reportedly
invented a way to get sperm from donor bears
without using electroshock, hopes to affiliate
his newly formed Smoky Mountain Zoological
Society with Sevier County, Tennessee, hav-
ing been rejected by the city of Pigeon Forge.
Krebs envisions the 60-acre zoo as a breeding
facility for endangered spectacled bears and
Malaysian sun bears. More than 50 exotic ani-
mals including 16 bears are already on site.
Although the zoo is not AAZPA-accredited, it
has already received animals on loan from sev-
eral AAZPA members. Krebs needs either
accreditation or a municipal or county affilia-
tion to qualify for a permit to keep species
native to Tennessee. Local humane groups are
watching the situation, as Krebs’ funding is
apparently shaky, and he once headed a locally
notorious roadside zoo––where he was, howev-
er, credited with making major improvements.
A rare white rhino on a breeding
loan to the Orana Park Zoo in Christchurch,
New Zealand, drowned November 2 when her
prospective mate pushed her into a deep moat.
Several zoo staffers jumped in after her, suffer-
ing mild hypothermia in a failed rescue bid.
(The Klingon-like mating habits of rhinos are,
after poaching, the leading cause of their
scarcity. Calm grazers who can co-exist with
livestock, they have a dismal reproductive rate
both in captivity and in the wild.)