From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1996:
The Lincoln Park Zoo and
Chicago Bulls sports surgeon Dr. John
Hefferon teamed up January 24 to perform a
first-ever arthroscopic repair of an arthritic silverback
gorilla’s knee, allowing him to
resume his sex life. Frank, 32, caught in
Cameroon in 1966, is esteemed not only for
having sired 11 offspring in captivity, but
also because since 1986 he has accepted and
protected nine infants who were rejected by
other gorilla troupes.
Two years after the death of the
Lincoln Park Zoo’s highly endangered 21-
year-old Asiatic lion stud, the Chicago zoo
has replaced him with a captive-born African
lion, imported from the Kapama Game
Reserve in South Africa (a drive-through zoo)
to increase the genetic diversity of the U.S.
captive lion population. African lions are
plentiful in the U.S., both in zoos and in private
ownership, but only 43 lions divided
among 14 zoos are certifiably not inbred.
One of twin Indian lion cubs born
January 1 at the Zurich Zoo was killed and
eaten four days later by his parents, who were
donated to the zoo by the government of India
in 1991 and reared two cubs in 1993 without
incident. Fewer than 200 Indian lions remain
in the Gir Forest, their only wild habitat
Two years after opposition rallied
by Friends of Animals influenced the
Mohegan Park advisory board and the city
government in Norwich, Connecticut, to
drop a plan to kill the 54 whitetailed deer at
the 30-year-old park zoo, the plan is back.
City manager William Tallman says the city
can’t afford the $45,000 a year that keeping
the deer costs, let alone the $60,000 required
to bring the fencing up to state specs.
The Turtle Back Zoo in West
Orange, New Jersey, will be closed o n
April 1, says Essex County Executive James
Treffinger, unless an alternative to public
funding appears. The 434-animal zoo reportedly
costs about $1 million a year to operate.
A 17-year-old and a 19-year-old
were arrested on January 6 for allegedly
stomping, strangling, and shooting 36 rare
exotic birds at the Plashet Park Zoo in East
Ham, East London. Common farm animals
in the petting section of the zoo were unhurt.
The tiny, financially struggling zoo had just
been saved from closure by public outcry.
Captive breeding at the San Diego
Zoo may be the last hope for the northern
white rhino. No more than 40 of the rhinos
survive: 10 in captivity, and about 30, protected
by 35 wardens, in the Garamba
National Park in Zaire, which was recently
overrun by about 130,000 Sudanese refugees
including heavily armed rebels. There is
hope, however: only 40 one-horned Asian
rhinos survived in Chitwan National Park,
Nepal, as of 1975. Today there are 450 in
Chitwan, 50 more have been reintroduced to
a second Nepalese national park, and two
were donated on January 3 to the London Zoo,
to stimulate growth of the captive population.
On January 7 the Philadelphia
Zoo extracted and froze sperm from Billy,
43, the oldest captive breeding greater Asian
one-horned rhinoceros on record, then put
him down with a lethal injection, due to an
apparently incurable digestive disorder.
Captured from the wild in 1955, Billy sired
five calves during the past 16 years.
Unable to afford arrow bamboo,
after losing $1.8 million in 1995, the Beijing
Zoo is reportedly feeding 14 captive giant
pandas meat and vegetables. The diet “has
caused digestion disorders, abdominal distension,
diarrhea, loss of weight, and a lowering
of their resistance to disease,” the Xinhua
news agency said on February 6.
Several years after ceasing to
chain elephants overnight, the Philadelphia
Zoo chained two African elephants for about
two weeks in early January because of a broken
gate in their enclosure. Repairs were
delayed by the January blizzard that paralyzed
much of the east. Petal, at 40 the older of the
pair, reportedly became chronically exhausted
by fighting the chaining all night every night.
The Kiev Zoo’s bull elephant
arrived with just one tusk, lost the other in colliding
with a fence last summer, and has been
alone for seven years. He may soon receive
restorative surgery courtesy of the Colchester
Zoo in England, and a mate from the
Muenster Zoo in Germany, if the Kiev Zoo
can provide the elephants with better fencing
and a heated floor. Fundraising is underway.
A Calcutta Zoo tiger on January 1
killed one inebriated youth and maimed another
when they dared each other to place a garland
around the tiger’s neck.