Zoo experts gather in Pittsburgh to discuss state of rhinos, elephants
With the number of elephants and rhinos dwindling in the wild, about 200 zoo experts from around the world are gathering here to discuss poaching, conflicts with humans and illnesses to reduce threats to the animals.
“We all want to make sure the elephants and rhinos are still around,” said Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
The conference, which began Tuesday and ends Saturday, brings together researchers, scientists and keepers who may not know what is happening to the animals outside their facilities.
“There is good news and bad news,” said Terri Roth, vice president for Asian programs for the International Rhino Foundation. “The good news is the number of rhinos has been increasing, but a lot of these are African white rhinos.”
In contrast, she said, the number of Sumatran rhinos has declined from about 400 in 1996 to about 100. The Javan rhino's decline has not been as pronounced, but still fewer are left, only about 45.
Roth blamed the decline in Indonesia on poaching, loss of habitat and construction of roads.
The Pittsburgh Zoo has three black rhinos and seven African elephants in Highland Park and five elephants at its International Conservation Center in Somerset County.
Willie Theison stood in the elephant enclosure on Wednesday in Highland Park as Tasha sneaked from behind and nuzzled him. He patted Tasha in return.
Theison said most zoos require keepers to have contact with elephants through a protective barrier. The Pittsburgh Zoo allows keepers to share space with the elephants.
“What Willie's doing is perfectly safe,” said Daryl Hoffman, curator of large animals at the Houston Zoo, which uses a barrier. “You wouldn't do that with male elephants of the same age or with keepers that don't have training to do it.”
Lauren Horner, spokeswoman for the Gorongosa Restoration Project in Mozambique, attended the conference to tout the National Geographic film, “War Elephants.” She said a civil war in Mozambique between 1972 and 1997 killed 1 million people and decimated the population of animals at the country's national park.
The film highlights the partnership between an American nonprofit group and the government of Mozambique to restore the park.
“We hope that everyone at the symposium enjoys the film and that they're inspired to visit Gorongosa, either as a tourist or research scientists,” she wrote in an email.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless OKs land development plan for potential Wal-Mart
- Peduto says city dropped UPMC lawsuit to help nonprofit payment talks
- Corbett christens $960K bus shelter, bicycle station in Robinson
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion
- UPMC, Pittsburgh drop tax-status fight
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Grand jury report says Western Psych failed to cooperate with police
- Evacuees return to Young Hotel apartments in Pitcairn
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- TSA finds .380-caliber handgun in carry-on bag at Pittsburgh International Airport
- Pittsburgh crime down overall in 2013 but rapes, homicides increased