EL zoo cops flak as worry grows over animals’ plight
As public outrage against the East London zoo grew with news of 35-year-old bear, Jenny’s euthanisation on Wednesday, so has AlgoaFM DJ Daron Mann and Ukraine- based bear expert, Lionel de Lange’s concerns about the remaining animals.
Mann has now brought the condition of remaining bear, Gina, who lived in the pit enclosure with mother, Jenny for more than 30 years into the spotlight. The concerned DJ has been campaigning since January to improve the conditions of other animals at the zoo.
Pictures of unhealthy-looking bears that circulated on social media early this year had sparked Mann’s interest, but after visiting the zoo and seeing a distressed jaguar housed in a small wire cage, as well as the state of other enclosures, Mann mobilised his campaign for drastic improvements, enlisting the help of experts and conservationists, among them De Lange, of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation.
“I honestly feel somewhere between anger and sadness on this right now. I have no words, what happens to the remaining bear?” said Mann, who's campaign and on-air remarks about the zoo led to a complaint being lodged by Buffalo City Municipality with the Broadcasting Commission of SA recently.
Speaking on Mann’s radio show on Thursday, De Lange said the remaining bear would need a lot more nurturing.
“She is going to stress if she’s got nothing to do but stare at a brick wall,” said De Lange, whose offers to cover the costs of a new bear enclosure have yet to be taken up by BCM.
BCM spokesperson, Samkelo Ngwenya acknowledged the enclosure was too small for the jaguar, said its health was not being compromised.
The jaguar appeared to be in good health following a visit to the zoo by the Daily Dispatch on Wednesday.
“Seeing that magnificent jaguar in that tiny cage just broke my heart and it would be a huge success to see him moved to a bigger enclosure,” Mann said.
“But that’s not the only animal suffering. There are endangered Cape vultures that barely have enough space to fly,” said Mann. Agreeing with Mann’s concerns, Kate Webster, an Eastern Cape representative of Vulpro, a vulture conservation and rehabilitation programme based in Hartbeespoort, said the vulture enclosure was also far too small.
Ngwenya, said the zoo had put out a tender calling for the upgrade of various enclosures and to move the jaguar to a larger one, but the time-frames were not met due to there being no qualifying “tenderer”.
“We hosted a number of zoo specialists a week ago and looked at every enclosure. Present challenges include the appointment of a qualified company to do upgrading of enclosures and it is out of our hands when contractors bidding on a tender do not qualify,” said Ngwenya.
De Lange said that his offer to help the zoo had fallen on deaf ears.
“We've offered help and they don't want to take it. As far as I'm concerned it needs to be shut down and all the animals need to be re-homed,” said De Lange...