February 15, 2014

Rare shrew born in Rotterdam zoo

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 9:15 pm

elephant-shrew-joey-makalintalThe Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam announced the birth of a rare mouse-like creature last Thursday, a Black and rufous elephant shrew.

These critters originally come from East Africa and have a conservation status of ‘vulnerable’. They are rarely born in captivity, in fact before this birth there was only one other instance known in Europe (a child of the same mother). The zoo calls it fortunate that father Gambit and mother Gloria even hit it off (it would be, considering the father was flown in to breed).

The zoo isn’t entirely sure when the young elephant shrew was born, in fact it was first discovered by a visitor. Despite being unsure of its sex, people have already named it Guusje.

(Photo of a shrew held in the US by Joey Makalintal, some rights reserved)

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October 21, 2013

NPR remembers Bert Haanstra’s Zoo (1962)

Filed under: Animals,Film by Branko Collin @ 4:13 pm

In 1962 Dutch cinema’s golden child Bert Haanstra visited the zoo of Amsterdam, Artis, during a sun-filled period and filmed the visitors as they were laughing, yawning, scratching themselves, chatting and taking naps. Then he filmed animals doing the same thing and edited the result to contrast the two groups and perhaps to say “we are not that different, you and I”.

The result seems comedic, making fun of the little people that are closer to the animals that they themselves seem to believe. The film itself is not too clear about which position its maker chooses. The editing and some of the videography is clearly done for comedic effect (ostriches’ heads popping up, the walk of the penguin), but the powerful walk of the tiger and the jazz music by Pim Jacobs do not fit the label ‘comedy’.

American broadcaster NPR seems to like the humane explanation the best:

Magically, [the film] makes the cages, the trenches, the walls disappear, and what you get is a real zoo — a mix-it-up porridge of animal life, where all the animals, the mischievous little boys, the oh-so-shy monkey, the proud baboon, the wide-eyed girl and the yawning lady trade moods, glances, worlds — our differences melt into little moments of us being like them, them being like us.

The name Artis was originally the zoo’s nickname. It came from a text written over the gates, “Natura Artis Magistra” (meaning “Nature is the teacher of art”). You can watch the video on the NPR page or by buying the complete works DVD set.

Thanks Fred Yoder for the tip.

(Photo: screenshot of the documentary)

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June 11, 2012

Polar bear tries to run, don’t get far

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 11:38 am

Last Tuesday the playful teen polar bear Vicks hurled rocks at the glass walls of his Blijdorp Zoo prison in Rotterdam , but ultimately shattered only 5 layers of the 7 centimetre glass wall (of an unspecified total number of layers).

Writes the zoo (in the video description):

The video shows that Vicks was simply playing with the stone and was not attacking the window deliberately. Shortly after 9 am Rob van der Horst (together with Ari Stolk) was unsuspectingly just shooting a film in he polar bear exhibit.

The strength of the window has been judged by various glass experts. Whether or not Vicks and his mum will be able to use their outdoor exhibit and the huge tank depends on the results of the investigation. The commitment of everyone in Rotterdam Zoo is to let Vicks stay in Rotterdam.

Some of the dialog at the end:

Gent 1: “Jesus, get out of here.”
Lady: “How is that possible?”
Gent 2: “The window is broken.”

And from there on it is a repetition of Jesuses and “The window is broken”. The matter-of-fact attitude by the people in the video may be explained by the fact that Blijdorp zoo has had high-profile break-outs in the past.

(Video: Youtube / Diergaarde Blijdorp. Photo of young master Vicks last summer by Flickr user jinterwas, some rights reserved. Link: Treehugger.)

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June 2, 2012

Amsterdam petting zoo looking for ‘Holland’s next Octopus Paul’

Filed under: Animals,Shows,Sports by Branko Collin @ 3:43 pm

In 2010 a German octopus called Paul made worldwide headlines by correctly ‘predicting’ the results of South African football World Cup matches.

A petting zoo called De Pijp in Amsterdam (after the neighbourhood) is now trying to ride Paul’s famous name by organizing an ‘eviction show’ called Holland’s Next Octopus Paul in which twelve animals compete for the honour of being the most prescient.

The format is similar to a lot of reality shows. Animals have to predict the outcomes of a 2012 European Football Championship match by eating from a container with the flag of a competing country. The animal that gets it wrong, gets the axe—not literally, we hope. Parool reports that the contestants include a sheep, a horse, a donkey, a mouse, a cat, a guinea pig and a chicken.

The first predictions, for the Netherlands v. Denmark match, are now in:

(Photo of an octopus by NOAA, which means it is in the public domain. Video: Youtube / ‘octopus paul‘)

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August 15, 2010

Zoo lures reporters with monkey see, monkey do story

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 4:43 pm

Ouwehands Dierenpark, a zoo in Rhenen near Wageningen, has successfully managed to lure reporters to its new orangutan enclosure with a story about behavioural conditioning.

The reporters’ banana took the shape of gymnast Epke Zonderland (silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships), who performed a couple of exercises on the parallel bars. The zoo had told the press it hoped Zonderland’s example would spur the orangutans on to use the climbing ropes in their new compound.

Reporters of amongst other BBC (video), Reuters and RTL Nieuws showed up last Friday to record footage of a lacklustre ape taking its first tentative steps on a tightrope. Seven trees in the enclosure contain a food lift that will carry fruit and other snacks upstairs as an incentive for the orangutans to walk their tightropes. In doing so the apes will alleviate both themselves and their human visitors of boredom, the zoo hopes.

(Photo by McSmit, some rights reserved)

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