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Berlin -The Berlin Zoo director apologized to his staff Tuesday for using a zoo sign for female animals to refer to women colleagues in an internal memo.

The sexism allegations stem from Bernhard Blaszkiewitz writing “0,1” next to the names of female staff members in a memo. In zoo shorthand, “0,1” denotes female animals and breeding mares.

He did not refer to male staff members with the “1,0” prefix, which denotes male animals.

Blaszkiewitz told staff his action had led to “misunderstandings and also misinterpretations” at the zoo, which six years ago gained international reknown as home to the polar bear cub Knut.

The zoo's supervisory board agreed to retain Blaszkiewitz during an emergency meeting on Monday.

Blaszkiewitz was also under fire for saying that staff members at the zoo had collected Christmas bonuses even if they were not Christian.

But in his letter, Blaszkiewitz said that staff members would receive their rightful benefits “irrespective of their religious affiliation.” - Sapa-dpa