The Bloemfontein SPCA will do intensive inspections of the Bloemfontein Zoo while the facility is temporarily closed. Gates were shut by the Free State Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) on Tuesday, after months of raised concerns over the welfare of animals kept at the city’s zoo.
According to SPCA inspector, Tebogo Maswanganye, the organisation will be doing inspections throughout the festive season every second day to ensure that animals are looked after despite the closure. “We did an inspection with Destea. The animals do have food and water and are in good condition. However, there were areas of concern, including cages with a lot of trees, unnecessary plants and some were dirty,” he said.
Mangaung Metro Municipality spokesperson Qondile Khedama, stated that the zoo will remain closed until Destea decides to reopen it. “The City only received such notice on 17 December 2019 and is busy studying the contents thereof to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, the zoo is temporarily closed until further notice,” he said.
The SPCA welcomes the closure as the facility has been a controversial issue for some time. “We believe that the closure is a good thing and hope that it will cause the management of the zoo to improve the facility. There has been a long period of back and forth that involved us giving them numerous warnings. They would clean up but things would go back to similar conditions again,” explained Maswanganye.
Khedama explained that workers will remain on the grounds throughout the closure period, however long that may be. “The City wishes to put it on record that the animals’ wellbeing and health are not compromised. Municipal workers will be on duty to take care of animals,” he said.
A petition to permanently close down the Bloemfontein Zoo is set to be handed to the Metro in January 2020. One of the petitioners, Nicole Viljoen, expressed that the closure is a step in the right direction for animal welfare. “To be honest, I’m very proud of the department because I didn’t expect such a quick response. This is a victory for the community and the animals,” she said.
Bloemfontein Courant requested comment from Destea but had not received one by time of publishing.