Animals in Bulgaria zoo shiver without gas heating

Date: 09-Jan-09
Author: Anna Mudeva

SOFIA – About 1,300 animals in a Bulgarian zoo were left without gas to heat their enclosures on Thursday, the latest victims of the Russia-Ukraine supply row.

The zoo in the capital Sofia rushed to switch to electric heaters to keep its elephants, monkeys, parrots, rhinos and hippos warm in the sub-zero temperatures.

“About a third of the animals are vulnerable to cold,” said the zoo’s director Ivan Ivanov said. “Only the Siberian tigers feel comfortable in these temperatures.”

All Russian gas supplies to Europe were halted over a price dispute a day earlier.

Heating was sharply reduced in snow-covered Sofia and hundreds of thousands of people across the Balkans were left in the cold as the impact on the hardest-hit region grew.

Bulgaria and the western Balkans rely almost entirely on Russian gas supplies which are crucial in the winter because utilities use gas to heat homes, offices and factories.

(Reporting by Anna Mudeva)


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S.F. wants $75,000 back from tiger attack survivor

By TERRY COLLINS – 2 days ago

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials want a survivor of a tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo to reimburse the city more than $75,000 for his medical treatment and are asking that the money come out of any cash settlement the victim may receive.

The city cited regulations that let liens for city-funded medical care be placed against damages recovered in wrongful injury or death cases.

The tax department said in a lien filed this week in federal court that Kulbir Dhaliwal has yet to pay for medical treatment provided by the city after the mauling on Christmas Day 2007.

Dhaliwal, who was 23 at the time of the attacks, suffered deep cuts and bites and underwent surgery to repair damage to his knees, according to a claim he and his brother filed last spring. The lien does not specify what medical care Dhaliwal received from the city.

The filing comes less than two months after Dhaliwal and his younger brother, Paul Dhaliwal, sued the San Francisco Police Department, the zoo and a public relations firm hired by the zoo in the days after the attack.

The lawsuit accuses the zoo of negligence because the tiger enclosure was lower than recommended national standards. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also claims the zoo started a smear campaign against the brothers following the attack.

Police investigated the maulings for more than a month while considering whether to charge the brothers. The lead investigator said in January 2008 that the victims may have taunted the animal, and the department did not recommend charges.

The city has not said why it has not sought reimbursement from Paul Dhaliwal.

The 243-pound tiger Siberian tiger, named Tatiana, escaped from its enclosure, seriously injuring the brothers and killing their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. of San Jose, before police shot and killed the animal.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, declined to comment Friday on the city’s filing. Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwals, said Friday that the city’s request had been expected and that he would not comment on whether a settlement was being discussed.

Sousa’s parents filed a wrongful death suit last month in San Francisco Superior Court alleging that zoo officials ignored employee warnings that the wall was not tall enough. The parents’ attorney said the family hopes a settlement can be reached with the city.

(This version CORRECTS that Kulbir Dhaliwal was 23, not 19, at time of the attacks and that Paul is his younger, not older, brother.))


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N.Y. nature center takes abandoned "pet" cougar

Mountain Lions Attract Visitors

A pair of big cats is star attraction at N.Y. animal preserve.
Posted: Dec. 17, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

The Brookhaven Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve on Long Island, N.Y., is the new home of Morgan, a 14-month-old male mountain lion from a zoo in Puerto Rico, and 8-year-old Simba, who was rescued from a veterinary clinic where his owners had abandoned him. Now, the pair lives together like brothers, with the younger Morgan playfully teasing his older “sibling,” Newsday reports.

The pair is on display with the rest of the 100 animals at the Brookhaven Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve’s free zoo, open 9 a.m-4 p.m. every day except major holidays in Holtsville, N.Y. Other animals include bears and a bald eagle, all of which cannot be released back into the wild.

Simba and Morgan are the latest in a line of mountain lions to live at the wildlife center. Kimo came in 1987, rescued from an owner who kept him locked in a cage meant for a dog. Sasha was rescued in 1991 from an apartment where she was kept illegally as a pet. Both big cats lived out their lives at the center, eventually dying of old age in 2000 and 2007, respectively.

Owning a mountain lion is illegal in New York, where the animals are considered extirpated, or locally extinct. The habitat for mountain lions — also known as cougars or pumas — ranges from northwest Canada to southern Chile.

Though not able to return to the wild, Simba and Morgan seem to enjoy their space at the wildlife center. “We try to always keep the animals in pairs,” said April Perry, a horticulturist at the center. This gives the animals companionship — and the opportunity for regular play.

“It’s funny to watch them because they are just like watching a house cat,” Perry said. “You forget how dangerous they can be.”


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White lion cubs born in Belgrade zoo

Belgrade zoo celebrates lions’ birth

Updated: 17:38, Thursday December 11, 2008

A zoo in Belgrade is celebrating the birth of two rare white lion cubs.

The tiny animals have been taking their first tentative steps around their cage, and getting to know mum and dad.

White lions are a genetic rarity, and most now live in zoos where they’re bred deliberately for their colour.


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Drive underway to help save lion in Romanian zoo

By Susie Boniface, 30/11/2008

Animal lovers have launched a race against time to save the sight of Bella the lioness – and give her a new life.

Three lions who shared her prison in a decaying Romanian zoo were rescued last year and taken to a wildlife sanctuary. Tragically, seven-year-old Bella had to stay behind because she was virtually blind.

Now the animal charity Born Free is hoping to raise £22,000 to pay for an operation to remove the cataract in her remaining eye and fly her to Africa.

Space has been found for her there at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi. But Bella’s sight has to be saved first if she is to have any hope of settling into her new home or finding a mate.

British vet John Knight said: “Despite everything life has thrown at her Bella is remarkably calm and has adapted to everything. I’m sure she will do well if she gets a new home in Africa.”

Little is known about Bella before Born Free found her in Buhusi Zoo in East Romania. As a cub she is thought to have been used as a tourist photographer’s prop on the Black Sea coast.

Kept on a chain, she was reared on cow’s milk which didn’t give her enough proteins or vitamins, so her knees became malformed and her spine was damaged. An eye also became infected.

Once she became too big Bella was dumped at the zoo. John was appalled when he first saw her condition. Blind in one eye and barely able to see out of the other, lonely Bella stumbled around her dirty pen, soaked in her own stale urine.

“She was actually locked up for the whole winter in an indoor shed without fresh air or much light,” he said. “The stench of urine was so bad it burned my eyes and made them weep.”

Together with ophthalmic vet David Donaldson, John operated to remove Bella’s damaged eye. “During the operation we discovered she had a cataract in her other eye, which means the only sight she has is like looking through smoked glass,” he said. “That will only get worse if it is not removed.”

Born Free has now moved Bella to Brasov Zoo, one of the best in Romania, but she can only stay there for a couple of months.

“If we can raise the money I’m sure Bella will do well in Africa,” said John. “After all she’s been through, we owe it to her to do our best for her.”

To help Bella call the Born Free hotline on 0870 777 4321, go to


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