By The Canadian Press - Friday, April 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A tentative deal has been reached between the Toronto Zoo and its…
TORONTO – A tentative deal has been reached between the Toronto Zoo and its workers, avoiding a strike or lockout ahead of a much-anticipated giant panda exhibit opening next month.
The zoo and CUPE Local 1600 — representing more than 400 staff — were faced with a midnight strike deadline Friday but chose to continue bargaining. An agreement was reached shortly after 2 a.m.
CUPE says details will not be disclosed until members have an opportunity to review the tentative deal and hold a ratification vote early next week. Continue…
By Diana Mehta - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The Toronto Zoo may be facing some labour troubles as it prepares…
TORONTO – The Toronto Zoo may be facing some labour troubles as it prepares to open its much-anticipated giant panda exhibit next month.
The union representing more than 400 zoo staff is warning of a lockout after the zoo’s management requested a “no board” report from the Ministry of Labour last week.
But the facility itself says it is just trying to work through the process of reaching a new deal.
Under Ontario labour law, once the “no board” report is issued, either party can trigger a work stoppage 17 days later, which means the zoo could be in a legal lockout position at 12:01 a.m. on April 26.
By John Geddes - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 5:09 PM - 0 Comments
Many people, I’m given to understand, find a rhesus macaque in a double-breasted coat at a furniture store to be a charming sight, but for stylishness in a non-human I will take the rare black-footed ferret on its native prairie any day.
I cannot claim, however, that I held this opinion before a few hours ago, when a polite Parks Canada employee called to alert me to the fact that Maclean’s had mistakenly included North America’s only native ferret on a blog list of extinct species. As we were all thrilled to learn, not so!
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:43 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Toronto city council has voted to transfer the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining…
TORONTO – Toronto city council has voted to transfer the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining elephants to a sanctuary in California before the end of the year.
A motion accepted on Tuesday night calls for Iringa, Toka and Thika to be transferred to the Performing Welfare Society sanctuary in San Andreas on or before Dec. 31.
All funding for the move is to be paid by PAWS, despite concerns raised by Toronto Zoo officials about tuberculosis at the California facility.
Council said it accepted an independent infectious disease report from Dr. Susan Cork which found that PAWS is a safe facility and meets the requirements of the due diligence process.
The motion also calls on Edmonton to take immediate action to move their 37-year-old Asian elephant Lucy to a warmer climate as soon as possible.
Toronto City Council voted last fall to send the elephants to the U.S. facility after groups voiced concern about the animals’ welfare and animal activist Bob Barker promised to pay for a plane to fly the elephants to their new home.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
And offer zoo researchers insight into their brains
The three orangutans at the Milwaukee County Zoo have a new toy. Once a week, zookeeper Trish Khan brings out an old iPad for them to play with. “I downloaded a bunch of apps I thought might interest them,” she says. One favourite is Doodle Buddy, a fingerpainting program; they also like apps that turn the iPad into an instrument that can be tapped like a drum or strummed like a guitar. “They love to watch videos,” she says. The adult female, MJ, “loves David Attenborough,” who makes natural history ﬁlms. Khan carefully holds up the iPad instead of handing it over; the ape could easily break it in half.
Milwaukee’s project has been such a hit that zoos across North America, including Toronto, are clamouring to get some. “We’ve got about 20 zoos waiting,” says Richard Zimmerman, director of the non-proﬁt Orangutan Outreach, which is running a campaign called Apps for Apes that aims to get more tablet computers to zoos. Eventually orangutans in different zoos will be able to visit each other via Skype or FaceTime—maybe even start Internet dating. “Orangutans have to move zoos for mating,” says York University’s Suzanne MacDonald, who studies animal behaviour and cognition. “It would be really cool if they could meet over the Internet ﬁrst and see if they got along, or if they’re terriﬁed of each other.”
Milwaukee got its ﬁrst iPad almost by accident. “Our gorilla keeper was on Facebook and saw a picture of a gorilla on an iPad,” Khan says. “She commented, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could get my gorillas an iPad?’ So a gentleman who’d just bought a brand new one gave his older one to the gorillas.” The zoo now has four split between gorillas and orangutans, but orangutans seem to prefer them. “Gorillas have a different way of interacting,” MacDonald says. “They look at things sideways, because it’s a threat to look at it directly. Orangutans like to look directly at things and ﬁgure them out.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 1 Comment
Toronto’s gay penguins will see their bond broken for the good of their species
On a grey and blustery November afternoon, the lovebirds nestle together for warmth. Scrunched into a corner by a large boulder, they seem oblivious to the gawkers and shutterbugs that ring the path above. Even another couple mating furiously at their feet fails to draw much more than a quick, beady-eyed glance. Buddy and Pedro, the Toronto Zoo’s suddenly famous gay penguins, are lost in the moment. Or maybe they are simply digesting lunch. A gut full of smelts and enduring passion are difficult to differentiate when it comes to small, flightless waterfowl.
Truth be told, there is little to set the pair apart from the 10 other African penguins that make up the park’s newest exhibit. At 21, Buddy is more portly and has a notched beak—the sign of a distinguished older male. Pedro, 10, while not exactly a hardbody, could be described as lithe, and tends to be more energetic. Both are around standard Spheniscus demersus height, just a tad over two feet. But even zoo officials rely on their colour-coded flipper bands to pick them out—pale orange for Pedro, flamboyant yellow for Buddy.
In the beginning, few took notice of their May-December romance. When they arrived in Toronto from an all-male colony at the Toledo Zoo last November, they were placed in quarantine, then gradually introduced to the other penguins, imported from two different U.S. facilities. The group then spent the winter indoors, in a building next to the exhibit, getting to know each other and their keepers. In May, when the display opened, they moved outside to the large pool—a former seal pen with vantage areas up top and windows down below for the underwater view. Zoo workers were pleased: the penguins spent about 70 per cent of their time this summer swimming, a sign of contentment for the species. But Buddy and Pedro proved to be a little aloof—especially to the girls. While the others frolicked, they would repair to a shady nook underneath a large rock for alone time. Soon it was apparent that they had bonded.
By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 3 Comments
Toronto Zoo gorillas are eating more but losing weight. Could a high-fibre diet do the same for people?
Charles used to have big rolls of fat around his neck, and chunky legs and thighs. These days, he’s much less pudgy. Charles dropped 19 lb. from June to October, which—for a 400-lb. male silverback gorilla—is no small feat. “The zoo regulars have been commenting on how good the gorillas look lately,” says Heidi Manicki Claffey, who’s been a gorilla handler at the Toronto Zoo for the past 25 years. Charles, 39, still has a big pot belly, she says, “but that’s normal for a gorilla.”
Charles is on a diet of sorts. Instead of the high-sugar, high-starch foods that zoos have fed gorillas for decades, he and the six others at the Toronto Zoo are munching on parsnips, cabbage, nuts and tofu. (As a treat, they get cinnamon-flavoured herbal tea.) This winter, for the first time, they’re also being given “browse” each day: branches they strip of edible leaves and bark, as they would in the wild. These gorillas are actually being given a greater volume of food, but they still seem to be shedding flab. From June to October, Josephine, a 40-year-old mother gorilla, dropped 22 lb.
Obesity is a growing health problem for virtually all zoo animals, from elephants to dolphins, and certainly for gorillas. In zoos, “about 40 per cent of adult male gorilla deaths are from heart disease,” which is now the number one killer of male western lowland gorillas, the only species in North American zoos, says Elena Hoellein Less, who’s finishing a Ph.D. in biology at Case Western Reserve University. Less, who works at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, is leading an effort to bring gorilla diets closer to what the animals eat in nature. Several zoos, including Toronto, are collaborating with her, feeding gorillas a greater volume of food—and more calories—than before, with a focus on high-fibre vegetables and browse, instead of starch and carbohydrates. This work could have implications for our own obesity epidemic, too.