Pygmy Three-Toed Sloths……

(repost because this is the most common blog to turn up in search engines and my friend just became head vet at DWA)

Isla Escudo is home to this pygmy sloth, one of four species of three-toed sloths. These folivores (suborder: Folivora), also known as Escudo sloths are not only smaller than mainland species, but they are considerably more docile. They are  threatened by the loss of mangrove habitat, and are  consumed by local fisherman. The fisherman will camp out on the island and cut down mangroves for fire. They feed on these xenarthrans when fishing is deemed unsuccessful. By the way, the brown-throated three-toed sloth may still be the only publicly displayed three-toed sloth in the US.  You can see one at the Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo, Texas.  Although sloths are known for their menacing claws I do remember a colleague who was seriously bitten by a two-toed sloth.

Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus

‘Zoophilia’ or ‘Philotheria’

It goes without saying that if you work in a zoo you are most inclined to be an ‘animal person.’  A gift from a zoo the other day, a publication of the institution’s history, reminded me of something that is not necessarily an important distinction, but it might reflect a cultural change or shift, if you will. I remember a time when there were more zoo historians among the cohort of animal care professionals and educators. There still may be, it’s just that most of the  classically diagnosed cases of zoophilia were reported in people who I know to be enjoying retirement right now. I categorize animal care and zoo educators as either ‘zoophiles’ or more general animal enthusiasts (philotherians). By my definition, ‘zoophiles’ are individuals who seem to be fascinated with all- things- zoo: History; exhibits; the evolution of living collections; zoo and aquarium culture; and the generations of personnel who have worked in these facilities. Others are not zoos aficionados per se. For instance, when on vacation they would be just as likely to be found eco-touring, horseback riding or playing with a local, domestic canid. Others would most certainly make it a point to visit the zoo first. Some would do both, but I think that there are two kinds of zoo people and they both are just as dedicated to their careers. However, one is much more interested in the zoo, beyond the living collection, while the other may be more focused on animals in general. Perhaps, the differences are not quite so discrete.  I found it interesting that people sometimes presume that because I found the zoo environment so enticing that I would feel the same way about a dog shelter or alternative livestock farm, or wholesale pet breeding facility. Hopefully some of you can relate to what I hope  not to be a novel concept. You can be a generalist, but it depends on the context.

Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus

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From Beavers to Kodiak Bears & Everything in Between….

Zoo Peep, Serena Bos (Animal Trainer, Discovery Wildlife Center, Alberta, Canada)
[Sunday, May 2, 2010; 9:00 PM EST]

Serena Bos, Discovery Wildlife Center (Alberta, Canada)

Serena Bos has trained small mammals, as large as beavers, to the largest subspecies of bears for wildlife documentaries and feature films……..

Off the List and Back in Trouble

I was home today and following the oil spill. Without going into detail  regarding the work of endangered species biologists working for the USFWS (Department of the Interior) or biologists with NMFS (NOAA-Commerce Department), I wanted to share this article to remind people of a contentious issue. The incident may remind you or make you aware of the controversy over delisting other species in the past.  Some endangered species’ numbers have  recovered sufficiently to warrant removal from the Endangered Species list (Endangered Species Act).  However, many would argue that several species that have recovered from the brink of extinction or at least a status of concern should remain on the list because they face an uncertain future and require continued protection under the ESA.