Algae infected water, carcasses and faeces strewn in cages are some of the sights that you will find if you pay a visit to the Bloemfontein Zoo.
The zoo used to be a prime place in the province for families, school tours and Saturday picnics but has taken a turn for the worst in recent times. According to Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor, Maryke Davies, this is one of many mounting issues faced by Mangaung Metro Municipality. “This is a problem all over the municipality as most contracts have expired this year and last year,” said Davies.
According to Davies a contract for cleaning services at the zoo expired late last year. “They (the municipality) have basically been extending the cleaning services contract every three months,” she explained. The current conditions at the zoo were caused by a long periods without cleaning services for cages and enclosures.
Courant visited the zoo and found that numerous cages were filled with waste. The hedgehog enclosure shared by not just the hedgehog but rabbits and guinea pigs not only had faeces but a carcasses left to dry up among the feeding animals. The chimpanzee ring where a lone chimp lay in the sun, was surrounded by littered green water. Two rooms which housed snakes had ceilings covered with black mould while several cages containing zebras and hyenas were covered with faeces.
Davies said that the local zoo did not seem like a priority to the municipality despite a by-law being put in place stipulating conditions that animals should live in. “Mangaung is breaking its own by-law that animals are recognised as sentient beings that feel and have emotions. These animals have to be protected and live in healthy environments,” she said.
The zoo was earmarked to move to Kwaggafontein but this has not yet materialised. The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Baba Seblao stated that the municipality was currently out of its depth and that the move would limit access for many residents. “We are used to going to town to visit the zoo. If it is taken to Kwaggafontein it will be far from people in Mangaung,” explained Sebolao.
Mangaung Metro Municipality spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, could not be reached for comment.