Executive Mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Olly Mlamleli, has revealed that she made a few startling discoveries following an unannounced visit to the Bloemfontein Zoo recently.
Mlamleli said that upon her visit to the zoo, she was shocked to find out that the zoo does not have a policy on how to discard animal carcasses or dispose of animal skins and that the zoo had donated a bull calf to the Western Cape without informing the municipality.
“I also found out that they have stopped with animal auctions, which does not make sense to me because many of the animals which were at the zoo are old and some of them did not even have their teeth. Auctions were one way of keeping the zoo going but the zoo manager, Darryl Barnes, told me that they had stopped the auctions following an outrage from the community that animals should not be auctioned off,” Mlamleli said.
When she asked Barnes to provide
a detailed account of the parties who were enraged by the animal auctions as well as which areas they live in, Mlamleli alleged that Barnes was unable to provide her with answers. She also added that she was angered by the zoo management’s insistence to make decisions on its own without the involvement of the municipality. “The zoo does not even have an elephant. The elephant is one of the Big 5 animals. What kind of zoo does not have an elephant?,” Mlamleli quizzed rhetorically. She said this lack of transparency has led her to question the policies in place at the zoo and whether the zoo management has been acting within these frameworks.
“We know that carcasses are often used by other zoos and some parts of the carcasses are donated to other zoos for preserving the animal tissue. We also know that skins can be sold to parties who stand to use and benefit from them, like African leaders, chiefs, and kings who use skins as part of their royal garments. If there are no policies governing what the zoo does with dead animals and the skins thereof, how can we say for sure that people at the zoo are not sneaking the carcasses and skins out of the zoo and selling them elsewhere?” Mlamleli quizzed.
She said she would be investigating the policies on these matters, the auctioning of animals as well as the donating of female animals with urgency as she was not happy with the way the zoo was handling them. Neither Mangaung Municipality’s spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, nor the Bloemfontein Zoo’s manager, Darryl Barnes, had responded to Bloemfontein Courant’s written queries by the time this article was printed.