Darwin Animal Doctors


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  1. International Slow Loris Day

    A wonderful team of people, committed to slow-loris conservation, including the team as ISCP, https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original, have decided to dedicate September 13th as International Slow Loris Day. In honour of this, this week, we are all about slow-lorises!!!!


    These beautiful, little, nocturnal primates have some unique adaptations that make them incredibly interesting. For a start they have a toxic bite!!! The only primate to have to have this trait! They have a gland on their upper arm that they lick, which combines with their saliva (made toxic from vegetation they eat), to form their toxic bite! It has been known to cause anaphylactic shock and even one reported death in humans!

    There are 8 different species of slow loris, found all across Southeast Asia, in tropical and subtropical regions in rainforests, bamboo groves and mangrove forests.

    The species our friends in Sumatra are dedicated to rescuing are the Sunda slow loris. These lovely little creatures are listed as ‘Endangered’, with all species being ‘Threatened’, ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’. The lovely, distinctive pattern around those huge eyes differs from each species.

    Slow lorises have a very low basal metabolic rate- they’re slow, very much like sloths! and yet they have a high calorie diet: fruit, gum tree, nectar, insects and small animals and birds. So why the slow metabolism? It’s so they can eat toxic foods to give them that toxic bite we talked about earlier. For example, slow lorises feed on Gluta bark, which can be fatal to humans.

    And because of their slow movement, the lorises’ defenses are to hardly disturb the vegetation as they move in the trees and they are almost completely silent. Once disturbed, they immediately stop moving and remain motionless. That and the toxic chemicals they brush into the fur of their young, help protect them against predators including snakes, hawk-eagles, cats, sun bears, binturongs, civets, and any other predators.

    Unfortunately, all slow lorises are threatened by the wildlife trade and habitat loss. Their habitat is rapidly disappearing and becoming fragmented, making it nearly impossible for slow lorises to disperse between forest fragments. And there are deep-rooted beliefs about the supernatural powers of slow lorises, such as their supposed abilities to ward off evil spirits or to cure wounds in traditional medicine. In many parts of S.E.Asia, certain parts of these poor creatures are also supposed to bring good luck.

    But what we’re seeing, seemingly ever increasingly in Sumatra, is the trade in slow lorises as exotic pets. Slow lorises are sold locally at street markets, as they are very popular pets, particularly in Indonesia. They are often seen as “living toys” for children by local people. Weekly, ISCP’s team in Sumatra are rescuing slow loris that are being kept as pets. Often the individuals keeping them hand them over willingly having not known previously that local laws prohibit the trade in slow lorises. As these groups educate the local communities, more people become aware that their actions are in fact illegal.

    Even sadder is the international smuggling of slow lorises to Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia for use as pets. They’re considered especially popular because “they’re easy to keep, they don’t cry, they’re small, and just very cute.”

    To protect people from their potentially toxic bite, animal dealers pull out their front teeth This results in severe bleeding, which sometimes causes shock or death.

    Without their teeth, the animals can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, and must remain in captivity for life. Slow lorises are also stress-sensitive and do not do well in captivity. Common health problems seen in pet slow lorises include undernourishment, tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure. Infection, stress, pneumonia, and poor nutrition lead to high death rates among pet lorises.

    Any rescued lorises at ISCP undergo a full medical before release, and are rehabilitated at the centre where necessary. In its lifetime, ISCP has rescued over 70 slow loris, along with leopard cats, macaques, gibbons, binturong, sun bears, raptors and over 1000 songbirds and other wildlife. 4 slow loris were rescued and released in the last week of August alone, with 6 being cared for at the rehabilitation centre right now.

    So we at DAD, with our partners at ISCP and other friends and NGO’s would love for these beautiful, shy creatures to be recognised and protected this September 13th.

    And I’ll finish with my favourite Loris fact… They first appeared in the Asian fossil record around 18 million years ago, and they are distant cousins of the equally beautiful lemurs in Madagascar.


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  2. Africa Animal Welfare Conference

    We have some exciting news this week. The wonderful Sarah, our Community Developer here at DAD, has been accepted to talk at Africa Animal Welfare Conference (AAWC) 2020. https://www.aawconference.org

    This is the 4th annual African Animal Welfare Conference, this year, a virtual conference, running from September 7 -10th and is a collaboration between a number of different organisations, with our position as a member of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia allowing us to participate, and raise awareness for our ongoing projects in Morocco and Tanzania.




    The conference provides a platform for different organisations, like us, who are animal welfare stakeholders in Africa to discuss developments in, and hopefully encourage further development and planning to realise animal welfare.

    Of course, one of the issues being discussed will be the implications of COVID-19 and any future zoonotic diseases and their effects on human health, animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation.

    But that is just a small part of the program. They’ll be looking at the progress in animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation, human and animal health and sustainable development in Africa: Discussing the role of governments, individuals, organizations, and communities in achieving responsible use of animals, improving animal welfare, and supporting environmental conservation in Africa: Assessing the role of natural solutions in tackling the challenges of development in Africa; and much much more.

    Don’t worry if you’re interested but don’t have the time to watch. We’ll be updating on the conference again in the coming weeks, particularly on Sarah’s involvement. We’re very proud to see her there!!


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  3. Gibbons in Sumatra

    It’s only been a short while since we announced that ISCP, the Indonesian Species Conservation Program had completed construction on a primate enclosure in North Sumatra, with BKSDA. Well we’re over in Sumatra again to introduce the latest residents at the Sibolangit wildlife rescue center… a beautiful pair of Siamang Gibbons!!!!

    The gibbons were introduced to their temporary home on Thursday 23 July 2020, coinciding with the visit of the Indonesian deputy minister of forestry and environment, accompanied by the head of BKSDA.

    These two Siamangs were confiscated from illegal wildlife trade and will be rehabilitated at the rescue center before being released into the wild.

    The Siamang Gibbon (Symphalangus syndactylus) is one of 18 different species of gibbon found across Southeast Asia. You’ll find the beautiful, black-furred Siamangs in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand!

    Gibbons are classified as lesser apes. Like the great apes, they have no tails, and gibbons, when on the ground will walk around on 2 feet like a human, but with their arms in the air for balance. They are, however, arboreal: at home in the treetops, where they eat mainly plants. Up to 60% of the Siamang’s diet is fruit, mainly figs!

    The gorgeous Siamangs are a bit different to all their cousins. They have a big ‘gular sac’ or throat pouch, which can be inflated to the size of the siamang’s head, allowing it to make loud, resonating calls or songs. The Siamang starts its day by calling in the early morning; it’s an amazing wake-up call in the rainforest!!!

    They’re also the biggest of the gibbons, they can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 90 cm in height (35 inches), and weighing up to 12 kg (26 pounds)!

    Unfortunately gibbons are yet another species that is under threat. The illegal pet trade takes its toll on the population in Sumatra, as with these two rescued by ISCP and BKSDA, but the main threat is habitat loss.

    Deforestation through palm oil plantations and illegal logging has reduced their forest habitat immensely, as have the forest fires in recent years, leaving these amazing creatures listed as Endangered.

    Now with the primate enclosure in Sumatra, our partners at ISCP can work to do their bit to save these magical tree-dwellers!!!

    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:


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  4. Ismael’s Animal Shelter

    Today we’re taking at Tanzania and Ismael’s Animal Shelter, the very first animal shelter in all of mainland Tanzania! https://www.facebook.com/AnimalRescueTz

    In Arusha, in northern Tanzania, people have negative perceptions of dogs, with dogs generally viewed as ‘dirty, unworthy creatures’. It’s here that Ismael has decided to spend his life helping dogs. Ismael focuses on rescuing these poor, stray street-dogs and rehabilitating them for rehoming!

    In 2017, his story featured in the Dodo, https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/tanzania-street-dog-rescue, growing from Tina, the first street dog he rescued in 2016, who’d given birth to puppies underneath bush. Having taken them home, sheltered them in a box and fed them, he reached out on facebook and from there his network began to grow.

    With help from this new community, he was able to build a proper shelter, learn about vaccinations, spay and neuter the original puppies, and many more since.

    At the time of the article, Ismael had rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed more than 30 dogs, and this number has continued to rise in the years since. We’ll be sharing some of his wonderful rescue stories in the weeks to come via email, instagram and facebook.

    But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Ismael and his shelter. The Dodo article highlights an incident when Tina ran away and was shot in the leg and neck (it was a happy ending, with the vet being able to save her), but it shows the issues faced by street dogs in Tanzania: abuse, violence and neglect.

    Rescuing and rehoming unfortunate dogs is an issue very close to our hearts here at DAD, so we want to do what we can to help Ismael. Our goal is to help him to expand from 3 kennels to 6, buy a motorbike to transport essential supplies and puppies, and of course help with the everyday costs of food and vaccinations.

    The link below will take you to our paypal donation page where you can contribute directly to our fundraiser for Ismael’s Animal Shelter and stay tuned over the coming weeks for more adorable pupdates!


    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  5. UN Sustainable Development Goals

    As some of you may recall, back in February, Tod and Piggy attended the UN, as DAD became members of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

    The details of a political forum  can all be found here (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf), and makes for some very interesting reading, but their goals can be summed up in:

    “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, [which] provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.” (https://sdgs.un.org/)

    These 17 goals cover everything from poverty, hunger, health and well-being, gender equality, water and sanitation, clean energy, work and economic growth, industry and innovation, addressing inequality, life on earth, climate change, peace and justice, and of course, education.

    Just recently, our very own Dr Tara Clarke was involved with a project looking at the care, conservation and protection of animals (http://animalissuesun.org/). In her interview, Tara talks about animal smuggling and our work with the local communities around the world to preserve natural habitats.

    Please take some time to follow the link below for an interactive look into animal conservation, the realities of poaching and extinction, and to hear the interview with Tara, and others working on animal well-being and conservation.


    We are incredibly proud of our position as a full constituent member of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia, and we hope to be able to continue to do all that we can, through our own organisation and collaborations like this, to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals!

    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:


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