Johannesburg - Two Johannesburg Zoo officials have been suspended over illegal animal imports, the City of Johannesburg said on Friday.
“The two zoo officials have since been informed of their suspension pending disciplinary action against them. The city is also receiving legal counsel on laying criminal charges against all parties implicated in the investigation report,” said spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.
The mayoral committee on Thursday endorsed Johannesburg City Parks and the zoo board's decision to suspend the two officials implicated in the recent illegal import of eight sitatunga (antelope).
“The mayoral committee received the outcome of an independent investigation conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) into how the animals landed at the OR Tambo International Airport in August this year without the necessary permits.”
He said the investigation established that the name of the Johannesburg Zoo was used in an illegal transaction and details about the animals' destination were misrepresented.
A consignment of antelope from the Czech Republic via Germany landed at the OR Tambo International Airport on August 1 without all the necessary veterinary import documentation and clearance for the Schmallenberg Virus.
The animals had also suffered injuries during the trip and were euthanized by the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries department just days after their arrival.
The illegal imports resulted in the Johannesburg Zoo being expelled as a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (Waza).
“The City of Johannesburg views the expulsion in a very serious light and will engage the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Waza, and all other stakeholders in finding a resolution to this matter,” he said.