Pretoria News Weekend

Welfare of zoo animals ‘not at risk’

- RUDZNI MATSHILI

rudzani.matshili@inl.co.za

THE welfare of animals at the National Zoological Gardens of SA – or Pretoria Zoo – was not at risk, management said yesterday.

In recent weeks, visitors, and stakeholde­rs at the zoo, said the shoddy maintenanc­e at the zoo and a lacklustre workforce could place the animals in jeopardy.

According to visitors areas at zoo were overgrown some enclosures were empty, and animals were kept in enclosures unsuitable for them.

Visitors further raised concerns about animals appearing to be underfed, a bad smell at the flamingo enclosure and water not being replaced for days, and said there was apparently no drinking water in the elephant enclosure.

However, management said animals were not mistreated at the zoo, which has been in existence for more than 120 years.

It rejected the concerns of visitors, saying they were misconcept­ions, but would be taken into considerat­ion in the interest of improving the facility.

Yesterday, executive director Leslie Mudimeli said visitors had mistaken puddles in the elephant enclosure for drinking water.

“The elephant has a mud puddle, and the elephant needs that. But you have many people thinking that this is drinking water, which is not true. There is clean water, but the puddle is important as the animal enjoys playing in it,” he said.

At the flamingo enclosure, he said the smell originated from the birds. There had been no water in parts of the enclosure due to weekly cleaning operations.

Mudimeli said during December there was a huge influx of visitors to the zoo, when it had received more than 33 000 visitors.

He also outlined a cleaning programme in which debris brought to the zoo by the Apies River, was regularly removed.

On Facebook, Jaco Swanepoel said: “Disappoint­ed. Pretoria Zoo is getting worse every time we visit it (not unlike everything else in SA) .... Many enclosures are empty due to “maintenanc­e” (actually lack of maintenanc­e); water features not working, garden beds are overgrown with weeds; drinking/water holes in enclosures are dry, and facilities like the cable car etc are not working.”

But Mudimeli said the zoo was well maintained, and kept clean.

 ??  ?? LESLIE Mudimeli and Tracy Rehse at Pretoria Zoo, with the African elephant in the background. The two senior officials at the facility have dismissed claims that the welfare of animals is at risk. | JACQUES NAUDE African News Agency (ANA)
LESLIE Mudimeli and Tracy Rehse at Pretoria Zoo, with the African elephant in the background. The two senior officials at the facility have dismissed claims that the welfare of animals is at risk. | JACQUES NAUDE African News Agency (ANA)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa