Slam dunk for otter health!

Sea Otter HoopsTraining animals in zoos is not just about enrichment – although that is certainly a worthy aim. Increasingly, trainers are working with veterinarians to condition animals for medical examinations and even therapy.

The benefits are obvious – being able to undergo diagnostic tests and treatments without the need for sedation and general anaesthesia minimises the potential for iatrogenic harm and builds a bond between the patient and veterinary team. But staff at Oregon Zoo in the United States discovered another benefit when their efforts to assist an aging otter went viral in a public relations coup.

The patient, a 15 year old male neutered southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), was admitted for a routine veterinary examination last year. Eddie has lived at the zoo since he was abandoned off the California coast as a pup. According to zoo experts, he would not have survived otherwise. Continue reading Slam dunk for otter health!

Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam

The Vietnamese subspecies of the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in a report critical of Vietnam’s ‘poor protection and law enforcement’ that was jointly produced by the International Rhino Foundation and World Wildlife Fund.

Although widely believed to have perished during the Vietnam War, a rhino was hunted in the Cat Loc region of southern Vietnam in 1988, which led to the discovery of a small population of about 15 animals. The area was subsequently designated protected in 1992 and eventually incorporated into Cat Tien National Park, but despite conservation attempts by several organisations, the results of a 2004 survey identified only two individuals remained.

Further survey work by a research team from WWF and Cat Tien National Park, conducted between October 2009 and April 2010, involved the collection of 22 dung samples from the park’s core rhino area.

They were sent to Canada’s Queen’s University for genetic analysis, together with the skin and teeth samples from the mutilated body of a female Javan rhino, that was found soon after the official survey ended. The results confirmed that all the samples were from one individual. According to the WWF report the dead rhino was the probable victim of poaching: ‘a common problem in most protected areas in Vietnam that threatens the survival of many other species’.

WWF’s species program manager in the Greater Mekong Nick Cox said the report showed actions to save the Javan rhino in Vietnam were inadequate, and this continued situation would undoubtedly lead to the extinction of many more species from the country. Continue reading Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam