List of Concerns and Achievements from Association of Zoos and Aquariums followup inspections on Aug. 2-3, 2012.

Originally Posted Online: Oct. 07, 2012, 10:58 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 07, 2012, 11:05 pm
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By Stephen Elliott,


- With only two interior stalls, daily work cannot be accomplished unless the elephants are housed together in one stall, especially during winter.

- Outdoor elephant exhibit does not reflect modern zoological practices in appearance, complexity or minimum recommended space.

- Door operation is not continually monitored to prevent elephant and keeper injury.

- Drinking water is not regularly available in outdoor exhibit.

- Staff do not maintain an appropriate awareness of elephants during close proximity in daily cleaning and husbandry routines, while sharing the same unrestricted space.

- Niabi Zoo is not adequately prepared to deal with an elephant escape or veterinary medical emergency.

- It appears impossible for staff to hoist an elephant, if necessary, in the indoor holding space.

Other Concerns

- Basic feeding and cleaning duties appear to consume nearly all keeper time.

- All animal exhibits were immaculate, and holding areas were spotless. There clearly is great pride taken in these areas.The visiting committee, however, still believes that keepers are not performing many of the duties that keepers in modern zoological parks are expected to perform.

- Outdoor lion barrier fence includes sections that do not appear of sufficient height. During July 2011 inspection, the visiting committee found the hot wire on the lion perimeter fence completely dysfunctional. August 2012 inspection found the hot wire in working order, "but fence measurements were alarming." The visiting committee believes the fence height is inadequate to properly contain the lions and puts visitors and staff at risk.

- No written animal training program.

- Animal records have been deficient in all previous inspections, and they now are, so this concern has been elevated to a New Major Concern. "The VC (visiting committee) believes that without the serious investment of time, resources and professional mentoring of the entire Niabi Zoo staff, this issue is not likely to be rectified any time in the foreseeable future."


- "A large number of new risk management documents and protocols has been created and installed. The amount of work over the past year in this regard has been substantial."

- "The VC appreciated the hard work and accomplishments since the last AZA inspection one year ago. A much-improved morale was observed at the zoo as was a better sense of shared purpose.

- "Niabi Zoo faces additional challenges, but the VC expects this team of dedicated employees to continue moving forward, given the necessary resources to do so.

- Elephants are trained to reliably present Standard Elephant Program Behavioral Components.

- Demolition of outdated bear exhibit was a bold, positive move. Improvements to large cat displays are under way.

- New zoo director (Marc Heinzman) has had a positive impact on staff morale and clearly has gained the support of zoo staff, park management and the zoo society.

- Exemplary housekeeping was observed throughout the zoo.

- Mandy Turnbull also has assumed numerous duties beyond what is expected of an animal handler. She serves a key role in many improvements and current operations.

- Zoo staff were able to address a large number of previous accreditation concerns and produce numerous new policies and programs, including: Animal welfare process, Keeper training check-lists, Behavioral Enrichment Program, Risk management, Preventative maintenance, Education Program Plan, Natural Resource Conservation Program.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States.
1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment.
1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan.
1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war.
1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs.
1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.

(More History)