Mitchell Park Zoo, famous for its fauna and the over 100-year tortoise, Admiral is in the spotlight for allegedly neglecting some animals. Picture / Sibonelo Ngcobo / African News Agency
Mitchell Park Zoo, famous for its fauna and the over 100-year tortoise, Admiral is in the spotlight for allegedly neglecting some animals. Picture / Sibonelo Ngcobo / African News Agency

City promises action against negligent staff at Mitchell Park Zoo

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published Jan 15, 2020

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Durban -  Mitchell Park Zoo management will take disciplinary action against staff who have been negligent in their duties after a member of the public complained about condition of the zoo on social media. 

A post with a detailed list of complaints was made by Kerry Katz. She said she will visit the Zoo on Wednesday to meet management. 

Her complaints were circulated on social media platforms on Tuesday. This went viral prompting action from the municipality. 

Katz said that on her recent visit to Mitchell Park she discovered that it's not in the condition that we were used to seeing it in. Katz claimed that water bowls have not been changed in quite some time; a broken water pump in the mongoose and meerkat enclosures mean stale green water that is not being changed; an Emu has a large open wound on its neck; some of the birds have eye infections; the turtle pond and crocodile enclosure is green with algae; the Koi pond water has turned green making it difficult to spot the fish and a pipe was leaking in the ladies toilet.

She also claims that social creatures like cockatoos, mongoose and iguanas cannot be kept in solitary confinement. They need a mate or a family. 

“A  miserable macaw was plucking at it's feathers. A  chicken needs its beak filed down so it can eat. There is a lone cockatoo without a perch, it's water bowl in the sun and no toys for stimulation. There are holes in roofs that are not being fixed, so vervet monkeys get in and polish off all the animal’s food,” Katz added. 

She said she saw a duck that was struggling to walk and appeared sick. 

Ethekwini Municipality’s Spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said, the umbrella cockatoo was bred at the Mitchell Park Zoo. He said the city is in the process of obtaining a mate from Umgeni Bird Park

In response to the allegations Mayisela said the Mongoose at the zoo is very old and would not tolerate a mate. Due to the age of the animal socialisation is not possible.

"The Iguana is an invasive species and legally not allowed to breed or pair. It was donated to the park. It will form part of the Zoo’s education programme highlighting the negative impact of the pet trade," he said. 

Mayisela added that the water bowls were changed on a daily basis. He said where possible dishes will be moved to cooler parts of the cage. He said a supervisor was tasked to check this daily. 

He said the pump was inspected and found that it was not broken.

“The manager will take disciplinary action against staff who have been negligent. The wound on the Emu is a result of aggressive mating behaviour from the male. A veterinarian has treated the wound,” he said.

Mayisela said eye infections were common in old birds. He said no birds are being treated for an eye infection. A veterinary nurse is conducting full health assessments on the entire bird collection.

"The Macaw has been at the zoo for over 20 years. Zoo staff have tried various enrichments to distract the bird from plucking its feathers. The city is considering getting a mate for the Macaw. The filtration system of the Koi Pond will be attended to this week. Will check on terrapins but no sign of algae or assorted infection. The beak of the chicken has been trimmed and the Cockatoo perch was installed," he said. 

The city said some of the cages were rusted and will be repaired with mesh wire. Repairs to the toilet were underway. He said the crocodiles needed murky water when breeding. A sign will be put up to explain this to visitors. 

"The Duck was taken to Umgeni Bird Park hospital clinic for treatment. It was suffering from eye infection and symptoms due to old age," Mayisela said

Durban and Coastal SPCA  spokesperson Tanya Fleischer said any welfare concerns will be addressed directly with the park and followed up on. 

"In the meantime the animals all have food, shelter and water. None of the animals were needing urgent veterinary care," Fleischer said. 

Katz said the feedback made her heart happy.

"Action is what we want. That was the goal. It's a good day," she said.

Daily News

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