08/30/10 Guilty for the Death of Four Animals

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Skopje Zoo to raise charges against Zagreb Zoo

Several weeks ago, the Zagreb Zoo came into the focus of publicity because of, as it was announced at that time, two deer dying during the transport from the Zagreb to the Skopje Zoo, which included six deer and two gnu antelopes. On that occasion, Davorka Maljkovic, manager of the Zagreb Zoo, and Dane Kuzmanovski, manager of the Skopje Zoo, denied all responsibility for the death of those animals, shifting it to other parties, such as Berislav Jokic, owner of the transport company Bero Ltd. from Sveti Ivan Zabno near Vrbovec. Berislav Jokic confirmed that the animals had died, saying that "Animals die just as people do. This is not the first time that animals have died, it happens rather often," which means that he sees nothing illegal or ethically dubious in that fact. As such statements show that he has been repeatedly violating laws and regulations by transporting animals in inadequate conditions, resulting in their suffering and painful death, Animal Friends has raised charges against him for misdemeanour and the violation of penal law.

The Macedonian animal welfare association Anima Mundi and Macedonian mass media have published information from the press conference held five days ago in Skopje. On that occasion, the manager of the Skopje Zoo, Dane Kuzmanovski, informed the public and the media that early in August, during the transportation of three gnu antelopes and six axis deer, rather than eight animals as was originally published in the Croatian media, four animals died, not two. Two deer and two antelopes died because of unbearable heat, as confirmed by the autopsy. Macedonian veterinarians have established that, during the journey over a thousand kilometres, the animals were cramped in narrow wooden boxes. The measured length of the boxes was 72 cm, while the span of the antelopes' horns was 75 cm, which means that the animals spent the whole way with their necks twisted and the only survived antelope remained without one horn. Owing to the lack of air-conditioning, there was no fresh air in the vehicle and the animals were also deprived of water. Upon arrival, the temperature in the vehicle measured 40 degrees Celsius.

The manager of the Skopje Zoo persistently denies his guilt, announcing that he will raise charges against the Zagreb Zoo, claiming that the latter had agreed to organize the transportation and take all responsibility. According to him, it was the Zagreb Zoo that had hired the transportation company, while the Skopje Zoo only covered the expenses, given the fact that there are no registered animal transportation companies in Macedonia. The veterinary service at the Zagreb Zoo had authorized the transport, even though it was its duty to secure a safe and adequate transportation vehicle and to check the conditions in which the animals would travel. Moreover, Kuzmanovski is of the opinion that it was the fault of the transportation company that there was no air-conditioning or water, since it was fined 500 EUR already upon entering Macedonia, at the border, by the veterinary inspection, on account of inadequate conditions in the vehicle. Because six animals were pregnant, the Zagreb Zoo had postponed the transportation to the Skopje Zoo from May to August.

The Zagreb Zoo is a member of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), while the Skopje Zoo is not a member of any professional organization. The Animal Protection Act and other legal regulations define for registered zoos with whom they may cooperate and under what circumstances. This includes checking the transportation vehicle in which animals from the Zoo should cross such long distances, in summer and heat, as well as checking the adequacy of the travelling equipment and preventing the transportation of animals if the appropriate conditions for their safe trip are not ensured. Thereby it is not the issue who pays for the transport. The Zagreb Zoo, with its long experience in transporting animals to other zoos, was responsible for taking care of that and for assessing the conditions of the animal transportation abroad, which always causes great stress in animals even when the conditions are adequate.

Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped in narrow spaces, lonely, far from their natural homes, at the mercy of people. Animal Friends calls on everyone to stop supporting these animal prisons and to teach their children about animals through documentaries that show animals in their natural habitat, instead of taking them to see captive and depressed animals. For other charges raised because of animal death during transportation and for additional information on zoos please visit www.animal-friends-croatia.org.

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