Thousands of locals have come together to show their support for a petition to close the Bloemfontein Zoo. The petition has gained over 4000 signatures on Wednesday after it went viral on Tuesday.
According to Nicole Viljoen who started the movement, the closure of the zoo is the only sustainable way to ensure that the animals are taken care of.
Viljoen, who co-presents the Radio Rosestad Middag Jol show with Bernie Naudé, claimed that conditions are worsening after she paid a visit to the zoo about two months ago. “As we made our way through the entrance towards the enclosures, the gardens looked terrible and you could see trash between the plants,” she explained.
Viljoen expressed that many of the animal’s living spaces were neglected. “The hippo area was disgusting. There were no animals in sight. The large camp close to the road barely had grass and the animals were taking shelter under the little shade provided. It felt like I was moving through an animal concentration camp,” added Viljoen.
However, according to Managung Metro Municipality spokesperson Qondile Khedama, the cleanliness of enclosures are prioritised. “Cleanliness of the zoo is given priority. However, there are enclosures which are currently empty, and those enclosures are overgrown.
Enclosures which have animals in them are kept in a good state,” explained Khedama.
He added that many of the animals are out of sight during the day to avoid the heat. “Due to the October and November heat waves, the animals do not willingly come out of their sleeping quarters. The City is looking into other best practices to ensure cooler environments for the animals,” said Khedama.
The initiative aims to gain 100 000 signatures from locals to close down the zoo and then hand the petition over to the Mangaung Municipal Manager. “The Middag Jol team wants to join hands with the community in this regard and calls for the zoo to be closed. We will go so far as to approach the courts,” said Viljoen.
Bloemfontein SPCA Senior Inspector Reinet Meyer expressed that although the organisation is against keeping wild animals in zoos, the creatures at the local zoo are indeed taken care of. “We inspect the zoo at least once a month and our last inspection was on Sunday but if there are complaints, we visit immediately,” she explained.
“We found that all the animals have food and are in good condition but there were three filthy cages, which we issued a warning over. They were rectified that afternoon,” added Meyer.
If you want to sign the petition, visit www.chng.it/cXYYFCBG6p