Horror as German zoos admit they will SLAUGHTER beloved animals over lost income

If it comes to it, I’ll have to euthanise animals, rather than let them starve

Verena Kaspari

Verena Kaspari, director of Neumünster Zoo in northern Germany, said she had already draw up a list of animals which will need to be killed first – with polar bear Vitus apparently in the firing line. Zoos across the world are struggling in the face of the lockdown, because they rely on the money provided by visitors to look after their animals – and with no clear indication of when they can reopen, the future is bleak. Ms Kaspari said: “If it comes to it, I’ll have to euthanise animals, rather than let them starve.

She added: “We’ve listed the animals we’ll have to slaughter first,”, admitting taking the final decision to go ahead would be “unpleasant”.

As a result of being unable to have visitors throughout Spring, Ms Kaspari estimated the Zoo could lose as much as €175,000 (£152,400) in income.

This money was needed to provide food, especially for larger animals – penguins and seals for example consume huge quantities of fish daily, while Vitus the polar bear will be on a diet consisting of fish, lard and a wide selection of fruits and vegetables.

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In normal times, if a zoo is struggling to feed one of its animals, it would be relocated elsewhere – but with the worldwide lockdown in place, this is not option with Neumünster Zoo losing out on its traditional Easter weekend windfall.

Additionally, animals such as three-and-a-half metres long-Vitus are too big to move in any case.

Neumünster Zoo is not entitled to any money from the country’s emergency fund for small business because it belongs to an association which does not is not covered by the category.

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Zoos across the country are appealing for public donations, as well as asking the Government for a €100 million-cash injection towards the cost of caring for the animals.

Jörg Junhold, who heads up Germany’s national zoo association (VdZ), suggests the average zoo may be losing up to half a million Euros a week.

Berlin Zoo, which is also closed, has recently welcomed the arrival of two baby pandas, Meng Xian and Meng Yuan.

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Spokeswoman Philine Hachmeister said it would be a shame if people were to miss them growing up.

Additionally, animals rely on zookeepers to look after them – meaning if the zookeepers fall ill with COVID-19, this could have dire implications.

Schwerins Zoo Director Tim Schikora said: “It would also be much more problematic for the animals if their keepers fall ill.”

London Zoo in Regents Park is likewise struggling in the face of the pandemic.

There is no suggestion any animals are likely to be slaughtered – although a appeal published on its website states: “COVID-19 has had a huge impact on everyone, and it is with a heavy heart that we’ve had to close ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos’ doors to the public for the duration of the crisis.

“But inside the zoos, life goes on, as our dedicated keepers and vets feed and care for our more than 20,000 animals.

“This costs many thousands of pounds every day, so we really do need your help.

“If you can, please support us with a donation – no matter how big or small, it will help us weather the storm, and you’ll be a part of our success story when we are ready to open our doors again.”

To make a donation, click here

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