February 2010 Newsletter - National Zoo


February 2010 Newsletter - National Zoo

Calendar 1

News 1-4

Conservation Program Updates 5-6

Meet a Member 5

Meet Our Cats 7

Steering Committee Members 7

Conservation Program 7


February 2010

Felids of Tropical Asia


April 19 to 25, 2010

Felid TAG Annual Meeting, SSP Meetings, and Husbandry Course,

Hosted by Louisville Zoo

The meeting focus is Felid Husbandry and Safety

The Husbandry Course and all meetings (SSP and TAG) will be at the Louisville

Crown Plaza hotel. To make reservations visit www.cplouisville.com or call

888-233-9527. You need to use the code "felid tag" to get the conference rate.

Room cost is $109.00 per night.

Potential speakers should contact Bill Swanson at

william.swanson@cincinnatizoo.org by March 1st.


Congratulations to Felid TAG Co-Chair Norah Fletchall in her new position

at the Indianapolis Zoo! Her new contact info is:

VP of Conservation and Marion L.

McConnell Fellow

Indianapolis Zoo

1200 W. Washington

PO Box 22309

Indianapolis, IN 46222-0309


While Norah will remain active as

Felid TAG Co-Chair, she will be

stepping down as Coordinator of

the Clouded Leopard SSP and

manager of the

international studbook. A search is

currently underway for someone to

fill her very experienced shoes.


News (continued)

H1N1 Virus Reported in Zoo Cheetah

The first known case of the H1N1 virus in a zoological institution

in the United States was reported in early December. The

afflicted cat, an eight-year-old female cheetah, resides at

Safari West Wildlife Preserve in Santa Rosa, California. The

cat was tested after exhibiting signs of a possible respiratory

infection. It has since made a complete recovery.

Are Tigers “Brainier” Than Lions?

From ScienceDaily, 13 September 2009

A study by Oxford University scientists has shown that tigers

have much bigger brains, relative to body size, than lions,

leopards, or jaguars. Although comparisons showed that lion

skulls were larger overall, the tiger‟s cranial volume is

largest—around 16% larger. Oxford‟s Wild CRU Director

Professor David Macdonald states “It is truly amazing that tiny

female Balinese tiger skulls have cranial volumes as large as

those of huge male southern African lion skulls.”

It has sometimes been assumed that social species, such as

lions, should have larger brains than solitary species, such as

tigers, because of the need to handle a more complex social

life within groups or prides. This study demonstrated, however,

that there is no detectable positive relationship between

relative brain size and sociality among these four big cats.

Yamaguchi et al. 2009 Brain size of the lion (Panthera leo)

and the tiger (P. tigris): implications for intrageneric phylogeny,

intraspecific differences and the effects of captivity. Biological

Journal of the Linnean Society 98, 85-93.

Increasing Efforts to Save Tigers

As India announces 2010 as Year of the Tiger, a partnership

between the World Bank and the Smithsonian‟s

National Zoo will establish and support a Conservation

and Development

Network that will train

hundreds of rangers,

foresters, and other

habitat managers in

the latest cuttingedge

practices in biodiversitymanagement,

with a specific

focus on preserving

and increasing wild

tiger populations.

The World Bank will

dedicate more than

$1 million over the

next year toward

these efforts and will

also work with the

Zoo to expand the alliance and raise additional funds to

implement the program. Program efforts also include

stricter enforcement of conservation laws and reducing

poaching and illegal trade.

In other tiger news, the largest-ever tiger count in India

will take place this year. The All India Tiger Estimation

will consist of three phases: a search for tiger signs, the

use of remote-sensing techniques, and camera trapping.

The count will also include the previously uncounted

tigers of the Sunderbans and clarify the often disputed

numbers of tigers found in the country‟s tiger reserves.

Unusually Colored Florida Panther Cubs


During a check of a monitored den site of a Florida panther,

biologist Mark Lotz was startled to discover two five

day old cubs colored an unusual whitish-gray. “They were

healthy. Just the color of their fur was different,” said

Lotz. “We have had some litters in the past that were

lighter colors, but nothing like this. That‟s the lightest I‟ve

ever seen. I‟ve seen nothing to that extreme.” Lotz believes

the cubs‟ coloration will change as they grow up,

eventually becoming the normal tawny color.


Ten Lynx Kittens Found in Colorado Survey

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) announced it

found ten lynx kittens during last spring‟s survey. The

kittens—seven females and three males—are the first

found since 2006. Especially encouraging is the fact that

two dens held kittens from Colorado-born lynx.

Since 1999, 218 lynx have been introduced into southwest

Colorado from Canada and Alaska. From those cats, 126

kittens are known to have been born. The snowshoe hare

population was down this year, causing some anxiety to

biologists. But the discovery of so many kittens has been

an encouraging sign. Because the lynx are dispersing and

reproducing, the DOW says the program is strong.

Bobcat Skin Exports on the Rise

According to a report by the AP, the number of bobcat

pelts exported by the United States has nearly tripled in

five years, to about 50,000 in 2006. The pelts now draw

some of the highest prices among trapped furs, recently

commanding as much as $550 for a single hide. The rise

in price can be attributed to the growing demand for

bobcat fur coats in Russia and China.

Wyoming, Nevada, and New Mexico have the region‟s

highest number of bobcats and no trapping quotas. Some

wildlife advocates are concerned that because most states

don‟t have a good measure of their bobcat populations,

this trapping pressure may be causing their numbers to


Number of Endangered Cat Species on the

IUCN Red List Increases in 2009

As part of a multi-year effort by the IUCN to reassess all

mammalian species, the status of members of the Felidae

was re-evaluated in 2007-2008 and distribution maps were

updated. In November, the 2009 Red List was launched

with 16 of the 36 felid species, or 44%,

included in the three threatened categories: Critically Endangered,

Endangered, or Vulnerable. The flat-headed cat

and the fishing cat were uplisted to Endangered status,

bringing the total in that classification to six. Listings were

also made for many Critically Endangered and Endangered


Visit www.iucnredlist.org to see the entire list and view the

updated distribution maps.

Does the Fishing Cat Inhabit Sumatra?

Despite decades of the inclusion of Sumatra as part of the

distribution of the fishing cat, recent efforts to verify these

references were unable to confirm the species‟ presence


In their article in

CATnews 51

Autumn 2009,

J.W. Duckworth

et al. detail their

extensive review

of felid

records from

Sumatra in an

effort to determine

the species‟


on the island. Examining historical records, the authors determined

that in 1940 one key reference stated that fishing

cats inhabited Sumatra. Since that time, fishing cats were

assumed to be found on the island. However, the authors‟

review could not verify any records of their occurrence

there. No verifiable museum specimens of wild fishing cats

from Sumatra could be found in this study and camera trap

photos labeled as fishing cats were found to instead be

leopard cats. Long term camera trap surveys primarily used

in tiger field studies do not include a single image of fishing

cats. However, when targeting tigers, camera trapping efforts

would have a low likelihood of capturing fishing cats

due to differences in habitat use.

The authors conclude that until more surveys are undertaken,

the occurrence of the fishing cat in Sumatra should

be considered hypothetical. With the new status listing of

the fishing cat as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, further

surveys to resolve the question are even more crucial.


Fishing Cat Field Studies in Thailand

In the Autumn issue of Cat News, Passanan

Cutter and Peter Cutter provide an update on

the Thailand Fishing Cat Research and

Conservation Project. Since 2003, the team has

been surveying four areas in southern Thailand

where the presence of fishing cats has been

previously recorded. Sign surveys and camera

trapping yielded no evidence of fishing cats in

two of these areas, both inland wildlife sanctuaries.

The other two coastal locations did yield

both photos and signs of fishing cats. In particular,

studies in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

eventually documented at least sixteen individuals

as well as evidence of successful reproduction

taking place.

Prior to this study, there have been only three

credible reports of fishing cats in Thailand in the

last fifteen years. This study determined that

fishing cats have been the target of hunting and

poisoning in response to their habit of taking


Additional indirect threats to fishing cats include

habitat loss and its impact on prey populations.

Much of the habitat of fishing cats has been converted

for agricultural use, especially for rice and

shrimp farming.

One encouraging note is that the areas where

fishing cats were located are areas of significant

human use. Therefore their occurrence there

demonstrate that fishing cats appear to be

capable of persisting in areas of high human

activity and impact.

For more information visit the project website at


This project is supported by many AZA

institutions holding fishing cats.


Meet a Member:

Ken Lang, The Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Conservation and Research Center

Ken started working as a keeper at Brookfield Zoo “way

back” in 1972. His interest in cats began when he was

transferred to the Zoo‟s Small Mammal House with its

wide variety of small cats. Another transfer to the Lion

House provided Ken the opportunity to care for many species

of large cats as well. In 1978 Ken gained his position

at the National Zoo‟s Conservation and Research Center

and started working with clouded leopards, becoming a

self-professed “clouded leopard freak.” Under Ken‟s guidance,

the CRC has produced over 70 clouded leopard

cubs. In 2002 Ken went to Thailand with Rick Schwartz

from the Nashville Zoo and helped found the Thailand

Clouded Leopard Consortium. During the first two years of

the project, Ken spent many months in Thailand overseeing

its development. Since that project started, there have

been over 40 births, with 6 of those cubs imported into the

U.S. population. Ken has definitely made a significant contribution

to clouded leopard conservation!

Conservation Program Updates


Submitted by Dave Orndorff , Fishing Cat SSP Coordinator

We are busy putting all the data together so we can do a

master planning session at the Felid TAG meetings in

April. If anyone hasn‟t yet completed their wants and

needs survey, please do so as soon as possible. I will be

getting back with those institutions that have not yet responded.

Jessica Kinzer, our studbook keeper, is getting ready to

submit the studbook to the PMC for data verification.

News from the Field

From Fishing Cat Biologist Namfon Cutter

“Well, up to a week ago we captured and collared a large

male fishing cat (13kgs) „Chogun.‟ He was stealing some

domestic chickens and villagers were reporting the

incidents. They were ready to capture and kill the cat but

they were nice enough to ask us to capture it and remove

it. However, one villager was really into conserving fishing

cats and he is from the community and he helped us

convince people to give the cat another chance. So, we

collared him and released him back where we caught him.

He is now being tracked.

I have been

busy working

with the community.


have offered to

help secure

chicken houses

for those who

lost their chickens.

So, much

more funds will

be needed. It

will be much appreciated if you could give me some advice

on how we can raise funds for that purpose. We also need

more collars as we are expanding into the wetland areas

inside the park.

We still have a lot of work to do in the field and it would be

great if we could get more help. It seems that the community

work is the priority right now because we are trying to

reduce the killing of fishing cats (in retaliation for taking

livestock) and securing their day-time refuge patches

because more of our cats are living on private lands and

these lands get converted every year.”

Namfon‟s team produced posters to display in the

community and at a Wildlife Seminar held in

Thailand a few weeks ago. These posters contain some of

the most up to date information of their work. If you‟d like to

see them, contact Dave Orndorrf at dorndorrf@mmzoo.org

and he will send you PDF versions.


Conservation Program Updates


Submitted by Laura Arriaga, Amur Leopard SSP Secretary

In the summer of 2009, the Amur Leopard (Panthera

pardus orientalis) population was upgraded from a PMP to

an SSP. In November 2009, Dr. Julie Napier, Amur Leopard

SSP Vet Advisor, sent out a survey to all institutions

that hold Amur Leopards. In an attempt to compile medical

information on this species, 40 institutions received the

survey. The deadline for each completed survey is January

15, 2010. If you house this species, please help collect this

vital information and return it to Dr. Napier. She can be

contacted via e-mail at: julien@omahazoo.com.

There is also a lack of generic husbandry information on

Amur Leopards. The SSP will put together an Excel sheet

of past and current practices that will eventually be able to

be used for Husbandry Manuals. Pete Laline from Staten

Island has offered to coordinate this task. The SSP also

started an AZA list-serve for Amur Leopards. All Institutional

representatives were added to the list-serve. If for

some reason, you were not added, please e-mail Laura

Arriaga at larriaga@southbendin.gov.

Congratulations to Erie Zoo who successfully imported a

founder male from the Tallinn Zoo in Estonia. Born May 15,

2008, “Edgar” arrived at the Erie Zoo on December 16,

2009. He is still in quarantine but getting settled in to his

new surroundings. What a great genetic addition to our SSP

population. The SSP is planning a management group

meeting at the 2010 Felid TAG in Louisville.


Submitted by Ron Tilson, Tiger SSP Coordinator

and Tara Harris, Generic Tiger Coordinator

As of June 2009, when the Tiger SSP held its annual

meeting, there were 396 tigers in AZA-accredited zoos: 130

Amur, 73 Sumatran, 54 Malayan, and 139 generic tigers.

AZA recently mandated that the substantial population of

generic tigers be managed as part of the SSP. At the

annual meeting, the Tiger SSP management committee

unanimously approved a new set of recommendations regarding

generic tigers:

“AZA-accredited institutions

should not breed, acquire,

or transfer generic tigers

unless otherwise approved

by the Tiger SSP‟s management


Exceptions may

include transfers of tigers

that are on loan to AZAaccredited

institutions from

private holders or for

transfers that free up space

specifically for studbookregistered

tigers. In such

cases, these tigers should

be neutered or spayed

prior to transfer.”

These recommendations are currently in effect, and each

generic tiger will receive an annual management recommendation

from the SSP. Forty breeding recommendations

currently stand for the Amur, Sumatran, and Malayan tiger



Meet Our Cats

By Barbara Palmer,

San Francisco Zoo

Angelfish, Goldfish and Sunfish are

sibling fishing cats born in two litters

at The San Francisco Zoo in

2003. They live in our Feline Conservation

Center (off display breeding

facility), but are soon moving to

a specially renovated exhibit in the

main zoo with both shallow and

deep pools. Though they began

fishing for goldfish when they were

only months old, as adults they occasionally

will dive to catch carp

that weigh up to 4 pounds.

Felid TAG Steering Committee Members

Alan Sironen als@clevelandmetroparks.com

Bonnie Breitbeil bonnieb@centralfloridazoo.org

Danny Morris dannym@omahazoo.com

Don Goff dgoff@beardsleyzoo.org

Dusty Lombardi dusty.lombardi@columbuszoo.org

Gary Noble gary.noble@disney.com

Hollie Colahan hcolahan@houstonzoo.org

Karen Goodrowe karen.goodrowe@pdza.org

Ken Kaemmerer kkaem@earthlink.net

Kim Davidson Kdavidson@hoglezoo.org

Norah Fletchall nfletchall@indyzoo.com

Ron Tilson Rtilson@mail.mnzoo.state.mn.us

Steve Bircher bircher@stlzoo.org

Tammy Sundquist tsundquist@thephxzoo.com

William Swanson william.swanson@cincinnatizoo.org

Conservation Program Coordinators

Ann M Konopik akonopik@ci.salisbury.md.us Jaguarundi Phase-in

Barb Palmer BarbaraP@sfzoo.org Caracal PMP

Bonnie Breitbeil bonnieb@centralfloridazoo.org Serval PMP

David Orndorff dorndorff@mmzoo.org Fishing cat SSP

Diana Weinhardt diana.weinhardt@state.mn.us Amur leopard SSP

Don Goff dgoff@beardsleyzoo.org Canada lynx PMP

Hollie Colahan hcolahan@houstonzoo.org Lion SSP

Jack Grisham grisham@stlzoo.org Cheetah SSP

Jay Tetzloff jtetzloff@cityblm.org Snow leopard SSP

Kara Akers kakers@livingdesert.org Sand cat SSP

Ken Kaemmerer kkaem@earthlink.net Ocelot SSP

Martha Caron marthacaron@zmee.net Pallas‟ cat PMP

Michelle Schireman pumacoug@aol.com Puma PMP

Norah Fletchall nfletchall@indyzoo.com Clouded leopard SSP

Ron Tilson Rtilson@mail.mnzoo.state.mn.us Tiger SSP

Stacey Johnson sjohnson@livingdesert.org Jaguar SSP

Steve Wing steven.wing@louisvilleky.gov Black-footed cat SSP


Felid TAG Times is edited by Shasta Bray, Felid TAG Education Co-Advisor. Please send comments, suggestions, and

submissions to Shasta.bray@cincinnatizoo.org. Submission deadline for the May 2010 newsletter, highlighting Felids of

Temperate Asia, is April 1.


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